June 21, 2019, 10:40 am
The Toronto Raptors are NBA Champions.
It was a long and winding road, but the Raptors have reached the mountaintop.
From their inception, the Raptors were a novelty act. A team whose name has nothing to do with its city or its sport; a gimmicky outpost in a hockey town on the wrong side of the border. For a long time, the Raptors’ greatest impression on the league was that they forced NBA players to keep a valid passport.
At each opportunity, the best Raptors opted to skip town for brighter lights and bigger stages. They could not be blamed for their choices.
Even this Raptors team began as an accident, brought about by good fortune and better chemistry. Kyle Lowry was supposed to be out the door until an unlikely connection with DeMar DeRozan led to an era of relative prosperity. The Raptors kept chipping away, adding pieces around their foundational guards, but found LeBron James to be an insurmountable road block. And still, that was fine. For the most part, it was fun. Fans liked those Raptors squads despite their shortcomings.
For a long time, getting close and finding some players worth rooting for was enough. Basketball was meant to entertain, with only a select few lucky enough to enjoy generational talents and a full ride to a championship. If the Raptors could find their way into the dance and bring some quality people to the forefront, that felt like a worthwhile effort.
The NBA, however, at least on the inside, is a results-oriented business. Masai Ujiri knew that second-round exits would eventually grow tired. Even though consistent quality is admirable, without a genuine championship push the most it would lead to was overpaid secondary stars. The Raptors brandished the reputation of being chokers and fakes; acting as a speed bump for the real teams as they wilted against elite competition. Good is the enemy of great, so they say.
The Raptors have spent the last few years trying to change the narratives that surround them, attempting to free the organization from the weight of past failure. It was perhaps the most arduous of their endeavors, but also the one that the city needed most. If the Raptors were to ever be more than also-rans, they needed to be more than a joke. And if you’re going to go far enough to shed that label, why not go win the whole damn thing?
Peripheral tweaks were not enough, and Ujiri took a home run cut in trading the beloved DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard – a mercurial superstar that had just spent almost a full year in the shadows, willingly departing the league’s model franchise with a reported disinterest in ever playing for the Raptors. Set to depart after one year, Ujiri had put a big bet on a major unknown, with a painful, necessary rebuild waiting on the other side of July 1.
Sometimes, however, boldness is rewarded.
Any discussion of this championship must begin with Leonard and the daring trade that brought him to the Raptors.
Leonard was a dominant force throughout the postseason, lifting the Raptors past their toughest test in a seven-game battle with Philadelphia, going toe-to-toe with the presumptive MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and proving unstoppable in the Finals, all with the postseason’s iconic image under his belt. You know the one.
Still, the Raptors trailed in every series through the first three rounds. Each time, they were met with skepticism and cries of “Same old Raptors.” Leonard, obviously, is the difference in that. It is easy to follow a no-nonsense leader, especially when you’re imbued by the fearlessness that his greatness allows. There was never any uncertainty about whether the Raptors could beat any of their opponents – only if they would play well enough to do so.
So many of Toronto’s dances with Cleveland felt like the team trying to convince themselves that they could hang. So much of this postseason felt like the team ignoring the idea that they could not. That starts and ends with Leonard.
There will be much made of Leonard’s free agency decision. The organization can rest easy knowing that they’ve made the best possible sales pitch, with fans tossing in house plants, free dinners and maybe even a new house as sweeteners. Leonard could stay given his firsthand knowledge of how good the Raptors can be, solidifying his status as a legend in the city and a hero in Canada. The impact of this run cannot be quantified for years, until the Canadian kids inspired by this championship reach basketball’s higher levels.
And yet, if Leonard leaves, it will be fine. He delivered on the promise of a raised ceiling, emptying the tank when it was speculated that he never even wanted to show up in the first place. The immediate future will take a hit, but the present is the point.
This is the point. Monday’s parade is the point. Not that his decision won’t matter, but the Raptors have already achieved what they set out to achieve. That Larry O.B. is the endgame. If Leonard heads home, as is his prerogative, there will be no sense of unfinished business. Everyone has cashed in on Ujiri’s bet.
If Leonard ends up back in Los Angeles, Raptors fans will continue to root for a superstar-less outfit with this unforgettable season acting like the ultimate safety blanket. More titles would be great, but there would no longer be the same shame in cherishing the work of good-not-great teams.
Beneath its cosmopolitan veneer, Toronto is a city that ties itself to the hard-working underdogs. It is why players like Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon are still greeted with cheers. It’s why DeRozan’s candor and vulnerability made him a favorite, with his reciprocity of the city’s love elevating him to a franchise icon.
They’ve seen plenty of talented individuals come through, but rarely had someone that was definitively the best player on the court, field or ice. The city took a liking to its underdogs and castoffs, cherishing a good story or commendable, blue-collar effort as the trophy cases collected dust. For every Donaldson there was a more-loved Bautista, for every Sundin a Gilmour or a Clark.
Toronto’s favorites are not simply the best players to represent the city – they are the ones with complex likability and a story worth rooting for.
While Kawhi gave Toronto its first real crack at having the capital-B Best player in the game, it is only right that he did not dominate Game 6 against the Warriors. The narrative of Leonard carrying dead weight was proven wrong in front of the largest possible audience. The Raptors entered the fourth quarter of Game 6 trailing by two, and it was assumed that Leonard would need to author another superhuman performance to stave off a Game 7, where all of Toronto’s anxieties would unleash in 48 high-wire minutes.
Leonard, the Finals MVP, did not score from the field in that fourth quarter. He did not score at all until there were 0.9 seconds left in the game, with things essentially settled. That he did not have to is fitting, because the Raptors have always been about the collective.
Fred VanVleet scored 12 of his 22 points in the final frame, hitting three triples to add to his resume of tough playoff shots. After looking unplayable against the Sixers and getting the peanut gallery riled up for Jeremy Lin, VanVleet responded with a mid-series resurrection against the Bucks and huge effort against Golden State. His lethal step-back on Quinn Cook to give the Raptors a lead they would never relinquish is one for the history books:
BET ON YOURSELF! pic.twitter.com/7klN1G9FwO
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) June 14, 2019
Beyond his offensive exploits, VanVleet did a beautiful job chasing Steph Curry around defensively. For the series, Curry was guarded by VanVleet for 198 possessions and came away with 51 points on 14-of-42 (33.0%) from the field and 7-of-25 (28.0%) from behind the arc, shooting about 20 percent less frequently than usual. VanVleet, sporting some stitches and a chipped tooth, took on the toughest defensive task and did as much as anyone could’ve asked for, all while averaging 14.0 points and shooting 40 percent from deep on the other end.
Pascal Siakam put up a big double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 10-for-17 while knocking down three triples. There is no more debate about who should win Most Improved Player, with Siakam averaging 19.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.8 3-pointers in the Finals while shooting 50.5 percent from the field – all with Draymond Green drawing the bulk of the defensive work. Siakam’s most frequent matchups in the playoffs were Green, Joel Embiid, Jonathan Isaac and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Siakam started his Finals with a 32-point bang, but was largely kept in check by Green up until cracking the code somewhat in Game 6. A lot of that had to do with Siakam simply knocking down his corner threes – he went 2-for-3 in Game 1, 3-of-6 in Game 6 and 0-for-12 in between – but Siakam still came through against one of this era’s defensive wizards, hitting Green for 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 55 possessions in the closeout effort.
His meteoric rise is the greatest victory yet for Toronto’s player development program.
Some of the initial draft grades on Siakam include lines like, “GM Masai Ujiri must see something in him that others don’t, but there’s no doubt that the Raptors could have done so much better with this pick,” “Deyonta Davis and Skal Labissiere both should’ve been taken before Siakam, and each has a skill set that would’ve aided the Raptors’ quest to get over the Eastern Conference hump,” and “This is a reach, pure and simple, on a guy who dominated in college basketball’s worst conference. He’s an all-energy, motor type player that is long, but he has the game of a 6-9 center to pair with stiffness in his mobility and leaping ability and somewhat below average hands.”
Siakam earned G-League Finals MVP honors in 2017, on a team that also got big contributions from VanVleet, and had emerged as a key cog in the Raptors rotation before shattering the ceiling this season. Siakam was expected to pitch in, but in no world did anyone expect him to be this good so quickly. Kawhi’s arrival raised the ceiling, but Toronto’s long-term work in player development allowed the team to hit it.
Still, the season does not end this way without Leonard’s brilliance. The Raptors were diligent about load management, keeping Leonard away from extra in-game reps but doing plenty of off-court work to keep his body ready for May and June. For the frustrations that may have emerged as Leonard sat for 22 regular season games, the Raptors knew that the payoff would be worth those shorthanded nights. Leonard led to the payoff, but the setup is not possible without Kyle Lowry.
Like all things in this era of Toronto basketball, it always comes back to Lowry.
It is Lowry that was just impactful enough to prevent Ujiri from pursuing a full rebuild when opportunities arose. Lowry’s growth forced the Raptors to juggle the incongruent tasks of winning at a high level while developing their late draft picks into legitimate players, often propping the team up with Lowry-and-the-bench units that consistently delivered great numbers even as the bench cast turned over three or four times. None of this exists without him.
There’s something deeply poetic about Lowry, derided for playoff shortcomings and failures regardless of his actual play, coming through in the biggest game of his life. It is not exaggeration to say that Lowry delivered the best 24 minutes he’ll ever play in the first half of Game 6, guiding Toronto through a raucous building and setting the tone with extreme confidence.
So many times, the Raptors squandered the very best of Lowry. The masses only showed up for the failures, missing out on the overall body of work as he tried and failed to drag teammates along for the ride. Playoff Lowry is a thing, after all – and don’t let the fact that Lowry was Toronto’s best player by a country mile in the last three postseasons get in the way of good memes.
In the opening minutes it was established that Lowry would not be wasting another chance. This time, he had a cast of teammates that could rise to the occasion in equal measure.
Lowry was once the go-getter for this franchise, dropping big scoring lines every night out of necessity. That’s no longer the case, but the total package still gave the world a Kyle Lowry Over Everything – or KLOE, as you’ve likely seen – performance.
Here’s Lowry in the midst of a red-hot start, passing up a scoring opportunity to give a struggling teammate a clean, early look.
Here’s Lowry sacrificing his body to take the ball to the rim and hit a huge bucket, preserving a 2-for-1 opportunity in the process. It turns out you can hit all kinds of shots from all kinds of angles when you don’t care about landing on your feet.
Here’s Lowry erasing a fastbreak opportunity for the Warriors, quieting the crowd and controlling the flow of the game as he typically does. This is a four-point swing that brings the Raptors to within one early in the fourth quarter.
And of course, here’s Lowry hitting a much-needed shot late in the game. As we’ve said before, Lowry doesn’t hit everything that you might want, but he always comes through with it when the Raptors need it most.
The most remarkable part of his game is how generally unremarkable those plays are. They are plays borne of effort and smarts. They are things that most NBA players should be able to do, and yet it is almost always Lowry who gets it done. 50-50 balls are toss-ups in name only, as Lowry has built his career on turning every inch into a mile. There’s a certain frenetic tenacity that drives his game rather than otherworldly physical talent, but it is enough to lift he and his teammates above opponents. Whatever it is, it gets the job done.
More than that, Lowry, the longest-tenured Raptor, is a symbol of the journey. He was there when Paul Pierce sealed Game 7 for Brooklyn, for the embarrassment against Washington and for the torture at the hands of LeBron. Lowry had been through it all and was the last man standing of the group that captured Toronto’s attention in the first place. In Lowry, the prickly, hard-working All-Star, Raptors fans can see a bit of each ex-Raptor that made them care about the team to begin with.
To erase the past in the Raptors’ journey is to rob their triumph of its joy. The story is an unlikely one, filled with missteps and defeats that make the ending so richly fulfilling. Nobody deserved this championship more than Lowry, and it is telling that his teammates made sure he was the first to get the trophy on the floor of Oracle, as well as the one to carry it throughout Monday’s absurdly long festivities.
In Game 6 Lowry scored the Raptors’ first 11 points of the night and wound up with 26 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and four 3-pointers on 9-of-16 from the field with a game-best plus-16 mark. To long-time viewers, it was hardly surprising. This is who Lowry is. A player so long defined by his worst moments finally got the chance to be appreciated at his best. Playoff Lowry is dead. Long live Playoff Lowry.
This run made two things abundantly clear: Leonard is undoubtedly the best player to ever put on a Raptors uniform, and Lowry is undoubtedly the best Raptor ever.
That Leonard even played for Toronto is surreal, and that Lowry hung around long enough to lay definitive claim to the franchise’s all-time throne is nearly as unlikely. Those events are the culmination of a season that featured plenty of things going against the grain.
These Raptors are not constructed like the other champions of this era and have not been able to lean on free agency as a way to juice the roster. They do not have a Big Three in the conventional sense, unless you’re a serious basketball dork and are feeling generous.
Toronto’s hopes were pinned on the one-year rental of a superstar. Unpredictable growth from a raw player, buttressed by contributions from late-first or second-rounders and undrafted free agents, allowed Ujiri to double-down on his risky play at the trade deadline, shipping off a quarter of the rotation for a 34-year-old Marc Gasol. All of which, mind you, was made possible by the improbable progression of an undersized, unathletic malcontent who was nearly dealt to the Knicks all those years ago.
And all of that happened under the auspices of a first-time NBA head coach after the Raptors dismissed Dwane Casey – fresh off his Coach of the Year win – and replaced him with a lead assistant rather than a flashier, out-of-house candidate.
Full marks to Ujiri, whose educated bets all came through. He took full responsibility for previous failures and took a massive chance on pushing this team upwards. Beyond all the gutsy moves made last summer, Ujiri’s long-term work paid off in spades.
His creation of Raptors 905 gave the team a viable place to develop their young, late-round talent under the watchful eye of the team’s staff. VanVleet and Siakam are different players if they’re splitting minutes with other teams’ prospects on the Fort Wayne Made Ants.
His teardown and reconstruction of the Raptors’ culture paved the road for all of the team’s achievements. Ujiri oversaw major investments in analytics, sports science and the training staff. Again, he literally created a G-League team as well as a brand-new training facility. The Raptors managed to deliver on all of their promises – building the organization up, competing at the highest level and still managing to develop young players. The players delivered, but Ujiri’s off-court maneuvering supported the team’s growth at every level.
At Leonard’s introductory press conference, Ujiri minced no words about the team’s goals and what it would require to achieve them. He dumped the past when the rest of the city could or would not, imploring people to believe in the cause and be proud of what the Raptors have become.
Ujiri, by acquiring Leonard, made believing possible. He changed the narrative that dogged the organization for so long. Finally, Toronto has something to truly be proud of.
Kawhi Leonard is a Raptor. Marc Gasol is a Raptor. Pascal Siakam dropped 32 points in his Finals debut. Playoff Lowry went 26-7-10 in the Finals. Fred VanVleet outscored Steph Curry in the final game at Oracle. The Toronto Raptors are NBA champions. It’s all very unlikely.
Unlikely and impossible, however, are different things entirely.
– Marc Gasol is an NBA champion. Aside from Lowry, this victory seemed the most meaningful to Gasol. You can hardly blame him after 878 career games. The Raptors initially tried to acquire Nikola Mirotic, deciding to swing big on Gasol after the Bucks acquired the market’s best stretch four. The timeline where Toronto ponies up is very different given the role that Gasol played in the second round, and it has to be noted that Mirotic had been played out of the rotation by the end of the Eastern Conference Finals. Gasol was also MVP of the parade, and it’s a shame that he ‘enjoyed himself’ a bit too much to speak to the crowd. Although his passive nights earned more talk than his great ones, the Raptors do not win without Gasol neutralizing Nik Vucevic and Joel Embiid, or without him rediscovering his game against the Bucks and Warriors. It’s a great achievement that will highlight an outstanding career from a player who never quite got the hype he deserved.
– Serge Ibaka is an NBA champion. Ibaka, like Gasol, had some wild swings in quality throughout the postseason but ended up playing a massive role more often than not. Ibaka is Toronto’s most emotional player, and the swell of energy that he provides on nights where he’s rolling is incredible. It’s wild to think that Ibaka is the second of the old OKC core to win a title, behind Kevin Durant and ahead of Russell Westbrook and James Harden. In the end, Ibaka came through with multiple big games in each series. They do not get through Game 7 against the Sixers without him, and Ibaka roared back to life halfway through the Finals. His improved playmaking was notable in the Finals, as he dropped some pretty dimes that seemed unimaginable even a few weeks ago.
– Nick Nurse is an NBA champion. Nurse, the man behind the revamped offense last season, was put in a tough spot for his first lead gig in the NBA. He looked like the leader of a team that was about to gently slide into a retool, only to be handed one of the best players on the planet and an immediate win-now situation. Nurse’s playoff adjustments were largely spot on, and he’ll be best remembered for the “janky” box-and-one that gave the Warriors fits. Golden State scored five points against Toronto’s zone defenses in 21 possessions throughout the Finals. Nurse kept his Raptors on their toes, delivering on preseason promises of flexibility and busting out a deep cut in the Finals. Lowry in particular has said that Nurse only yelled at the team a couple times all year, and he, along with Leonard, deserves massive credit for creating the team’s overwhelming sense of calm. That sort of stuff flows from the top down, and Nurse succeeded in every spot where previous iterations of this team came up short. As for Game 6, credit him for putting Lowry back into the game late in the third quarter despite four fouls. Lowry needed to be on the court as much as possible and Nurse was able to gamble and win. What a year.
– Norman Powell is an NBA champion. Powell is a fan favorite and has been since he burst onto the scene against Indiana in 2016, coming out of nowhere to serve as the team’s best Paul George antidote. He, like VanVleet and Siakam, was overlooked coming out of college and needed to grind his way to this point in his career. The Raptors do not get through Milwaukee without Powell’s bounce-back – he did not play in Game 7 against the Sixers – and his aggression kept the team moving when they looked ready to freeze up. Powell has consistently been able to raise his game in the playoffs, and he fits the team’s underdog ethos nicely.
– As a Taiwanese-American myself, it is beyond cool to see Jeremy Lin holding the trophy. Lin has had one of the stranger story arcs that you can imagine, with his rise to superstardom happening quite literally overnight before settling as a complementary player and having to re-prove himself at each new stop. Though he did not impact the team’s playoff run, Lin saved wear and tear on Lowry during the second half of the season when VanVleet was sidelined and was one of the players to console Danny Green in the aftermath of his horrific turnover that gave the Warriors a chance to win Game 6. Representation matters a ton, and it is amazing to see Lin deal with everything that has happened throughout his career while also carrying the flag for Asian-Americans.
– Each player that wins a championship has a fun backstory worth diving into, and that extends to all of the Raptors’ complementary pieces. Danny Green’s self-deprecating speech at the parade was a nice touch, and you can be sure that his teammates let him know how invaluable his contributions were even while his shot was astray. Green had a few big games against Philly and Golden State that make up for his off nights, and the defense was always huge on a team with two undersized point guards. Chris Boucher had a reportedly messy exit from Golden State, and this win had to be immensely satisfying. His run in backup minutes when Jonas Valanciunas was injured was part of Toronto’s success. Patrick McCaw has never not been an NBA champion, passing up a chance at a larger role on a worse team to contribute to a contender while working with a renowned development staff. Jordan Loyd, two-way player and bench celebration captain, was tasked with mimicking Curry in practices, putting all his effort into preparing his teammates even though he was ineligible to suit up in the playoffs. Championships are made by the entire roster, not just the guys who log big minutes.
– The only real shame of this run is that OG Anunoby was unable to participate. Anunoby dealt with a hellish year, first losing his father and then battling a concussion before getting an emergency appendectomy on the eve of the playoffs. He remains a part of the core going forward and will hopefully enter next season recharged.
– Kawhi Leonard going self-referential with his parade laugh is outstanding work. It was great to see him open up a bit more in the aftermath of the championship, and he genuinely does seem like a fun guy.
– Despite the tragic injuries that befell the Warriors, their performance, even in defeat, was incredible. They had no business making Games 5 or 6 as close as they were. Taking Game 5 may go down as one of the most impressive feats of their dynasty. Klay Thompson is terrifying. If there were any doubts about whether Klay is a max player, they should be dead and buried after his performance – on an injured hamstring, no less. It may take a while, but these Warriors will eventually be remembered as the greatest team of all time.
– Draymond Green is next in line for the max player conversation, and he certainly put up a monstrous Finals. Green delivered 11 points, 19 rebounds and 13 assists in Game 6, and although a few of his eight turnovers were absolute backbreakers, you can forgive him considering the massive load he had to shoulder as the other Warriors hit the sidelines. Green does an insane amount for this team and looks like the straw that stirs the drink for most of his time on the court.
– Andre Iguodala was superb in Game 6, putting together a throwback night with 22 points and three triples. We may never see him take 15 field goals again, but there was something fitting about Iguodala stepping into the spotlight in Oracle’s final game. With the way that so many players insist on playing “their” game until father time catches up, it is admirable to see how Iguodala has been able to age gracefully while still making vital contributions in a new way.
– Kevon Looney earned himself a ton of money in the Finals, illustrating some serious toughness and playing through obvious pain when it was clear that he was the only hope at the center spot. DeMarcus Cousins also put forth a commendable effort, crushing his rehab on a left quad tear and returning to the court ahead of schedule. His on-court play was a lot less consistent, and there were plenty of apparent weaknesses, but Cousins did have a number of strong moments in the Finals. Both guys get tons of credit for gutting it out.
– It has been a pleasure covering the Raptors’ championship run and I want to thank anyone who has stopped in to read along and share that experience. I consider myself very fortunate to have witnessed the journey from start to finish, and even more fortunate that anyone would care what I have to say about it. This is part of our effort to expand the breadth of coverage on the site, so stay tuned as we continue to grow. That I was able to dip my toes in the deep end as the Raptors made history is a true gift. One day you’re projecting Roko Ukic and the next Marc Gasol is drunk dancing on a double-decker bus. Talk about a glow-up.
– He Stay.
January 27, 2020, 11:48 pmDonovan MitchellSG, Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell did his best to carry the Jazz in Monday's 117-126 loss to the Rockets with 36 points on 14-of-25 shooting to go with three boards, four assists, three steals and three 3-pointers.
Mitchell tried to keep the Jazz in the game and the lack of numbers outside of scoring were due to the fact that no one on the Jazz had it going on offense besides him and Bojan Bogdanovic. The good news is that he kept up his efficiency with his high-volume scoring tonight. The rest of the stats will trickle in soon.
January 27, 2020, 11:48 pmRudy GobertC, Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert double-doubled on Monday with 12 points and 14 rebounds to go with a steal and two blocks.
Gobert did his best against a Rockets offense that sought to drag him out on the perimeter. He was still able to grab double-digit boards, but he didn't look comfortable all game against Houston's small ball lineups.
January 27, 2020, 11:47 pmJoe InglesSF, Utah Jazz
Joe Ingles started on Monday, but his shot was off as he scored seven points on 2-of-8 shooting to go with two rebounds, six assists and a 3-pointer.
Ingles drew the start again on Monday, but was off the mark with his shot again. He's getting enough minutes to keep up his top-100 play, but he just isn't producing as of now. He's worth holding on to for a few more games as he was too good prior to this stretch to let go of after a few bad nights. Mike Conley () had a decent stretch as well, but the bench role will severely limit his upside. It's hard to imagine a world where both players produce high level fantasy lines.
January 27, 2020, 11:47 pmBojan BogdanovicSF, Utah Jazz
Bojan Bogdanovic was one of the few Jazz players to hit any shots on Monday, scoring 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting to go with one rebound, two assists and seven 3-pointers.
Bogdanovic was able to put up his usual scoring numbers alongside Donvoan Mitchell. He'll continue to be a solid source of points and triples.
January 27, 2020, 11:47 pmEric GordonSG, Houston Rockets
Eric Gordon drew the start on Monday and responded by setting a new career-high with 50 points on 14-of-22 shooting (16-of-20 FTs) to go with six rebounds, three assists, two steals, a block and six 3-pointers.
Gordon was the trigger man tonight and did his best James Harden impersonation. The Jazz just couldn't stop him on the pick-and-roll dives and couple that with his hot shooting from deep and you have what may be his best game of the season. His value goes back to 3-point streaming specialist when the Rockets are healthy as Gordon usually doesn't handle the ball this much.
January 27, 2020, 11:46 pmDanuel HousePF, Houston Rockets
Danuel House started and logged a game-high 45 minutes on Monday, scoring 21 points on 6-of-14 shooting to go with 11 boards, two assists, five steals and two triples.
House looked much more aggressive out there tonight on both ends of the floor, as displayed by his stocks. Maybe this game will snap him out of his cold spell as the Rockets desperately need him to stay this aggressive on offense.
January 27, 2020, 11:46 pmAustin RiversPG, Houston Rockets
Austin Rivers started on Monday and scored a season-high 21 points with four rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks and two triples.
Rivers drew the start and was in attack mode from the beginning. He was comfortable out there as the main pick-and-roll ball handler, seeking out mismatches and attacking the rim. His fantasy value dips back to irrelevancy when either Russell Westbrook (rest) or James Harden (thigh) return, but his streaming appeal is there when either sits.
January 27, 2020, 11:46 pmPJ TuckerSF, Houston Rockets
P.J. Tucker scored nine points on 2-of-4 shooting to go with 10 boards, five dimes and a triple-one line on Monday.
Tucker continues to play through his stinger, but his minutes were much lower than usual tonight as Coach D'Antoni ran a nine-man rotation. This is actually good news as Tucker can still provide a triple-one in around 30 minutes a night.
January 27, 2020, 11:43 pmKris DunnPG, Chicago Bulls
Kris Dunn was active as usual in the Bulls' 110-109 win over the Spurs on Monday as he produced 10 points (5-of-9 shooting), six rebounds, eight assists, three steals and one block in 35 minutes.
Dunn played tough defense on DeMar DeRozan, though nothing seems to be able to stop him at this point. With Otto Porter Jr. out, Dunn has carved out a good role this season. Fantasy-wise, he's most valuable for his elite steals and decent assists. In fact, this marks six straight games with at least two steals for Dunn. Most fantasy teams could use an elite specialist like him.
January 27, 2020, 11:36 pmLuke KornetPF-C, Chicago Bulls
Luke Kornet had a strong game on Monday in a win over the Spurs with 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes.
Kornet has been hit-or-miss since he joined the starting lineup, mainly due to low minutes. In this game, however, he showed some of his Knicks magic from last season. He should have a handful of games left in the starting lineup, so if you're looking for some blocks and threes, give him a look. Thaddeus Young was solid in his starting effort as well, putting up 13 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a pair of threes in 29 minutes in the win.