Title: Thon Maker leads the list of unlikely players who regularly kill the Raptors
Date: October 30, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I tried to quantify the “Gerald Henderson phenomenon” whereby unheralded players seem to regularly kill the Raptors, coming up with the Raptor Killer All-Stars in the process.
Follow any sports team long enough and you’ll build a sense for when an outlier performance is coming from an opponent. This is not scientific, and in most cases it’s probably not even statistically accurate. Still, the throes of fandom are such that moments, big nights and certain players stand out. These are the players that kill your favorite team, the ones you dread seeing across the court, diamond or ice, the ones who you track in the offseason hoping they head out-of-conference.
Toronto Raptors fans seem to have this sense more than most. Chalk it up to nearly two decades of stumbling to even sustain competence or a best-era-ever run that was prone to hand-wringing and bizarre lapses. Whatever the reason, the Raptors have long seemed to facilitate big nights for otherwise unspectacular competition. That’s why William Lou of Raptors Republic has created the Gerald Henderson Award, which he gives out after each game dating back to the start of the 2016-17 season. Named for one of the most inexplicable Raptor killers ever, the GHA gives a nightly nod to the role player or relative unknown who looks like an all-star against the Raptors. There are always — always — candidates.
Monday was just the latest example, and the Milwaukee Bucks apparent roster-building strategy of “get guys who kill the Raptors” is a heck of a long-con ahead of a potential second- or third-round playoff rematch this year. Tony Snell has the former-Chicago Bull juju on him that makes him a lock to frustrate the Raptors, Thon Maker has never looked better in his career than when opposite his pseudo-hometown team, and, well, Ersan Ilyaosva looks full Turkish Josh Hartnett when he gets Toronto in his sights.