Title: Raptor Recalibration, Game 1: Leonard responds to traps, ignoring non-shooters, McCaw minutes and more
Date: May 31, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, my playoff day-after playoff column looked at the Raptors starting their first NBA Finals appearance off with a win against the Warriors.
As Pascal Siakam was turning in one of the best NBA Finals debuts of all time, I joked on Twitter that I was surprised at everyone’s collective surprise. After all, I’d watched him win a G League Finals MVP.
The joke was lost on some people. It probably says something about my realtakes that the implied “dropping 30 on Darius Morris is the same as doing it on Draymond Green” or “Klay Thompson is just a shorter Kyle Wiltjer with a cool dog” comparisons were taken seriously. Of course performing at the highest level of the G League takes several leaps to translate to the NBA. Like, obviously this is a joke, right? I digress.
There were a couple of other not-so-serious responses about how it was a very “Blake” tweet, and I wanted to reflect on it just briefly. Samson Folk of Raptors Republic discussed this a little on his podcast the other week, too. There is a bit of an investment in guys I’ve covered through the G League when they start to succeed in the NBA. That can’t get in the way of objective analysis, but it’s cool to have been covering a player from the start when, say, he finally becomes an NBA player in Memphis, makes it to the NBA via the call-up route or begins establishing himself as the league’s Most Improved Player. There is an enormous G League presence in this series, and with Alfonzo McKinnie having played for Raptors 905 from the Golden State side, too, there are a lot of pieces contributing in the NBA Finals who not that long ago I was covering as they tried to get a foothold in the league.
I love telling those stories at that level. I love getting to continue to tell them at the highest level, on the biggest stage, even more. So yes, you’re going to hear a lot from me if Siakam winds up doubling down on the whole “Finals MVP” thing. (Let’s give it a few games before we discuss that in earnest, though. Fred VanVleet Jr. still has the best odds on the Raptors’ side.)