WOLSTAT: Watanabe a revelation, Siakam a star again by abandoning outside game and Lowry’s a bounce-pass maestro

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Chris Boucher was the feel-good story of a feel-bad start to the season overall for the Raptors, but even his biggest fan had to know Boucher’s ridiculous play wasn’t sustainable. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a solid bench big man for the team, because he can, just that he wasn’t as obvious a choice as the starting centre as many believed. Which is what this corner was arguing in the first place when saying Aron Baynes should still be given a chance to start, even if it made sense to yank him quickly and go to Boucher (or even to Norman Powell if he isn’t starting).

In any event, Baynes has found his game. The rebounding numbers (team season-high 16 against Orlando, along with 10 in the previous game) are obvious, but more importantly, Siakam finally looks comfortable playing alongside him. That’s a huge development, if it continues. Baynes also did a great job on Vucevic, contributing to a poor 5-for-18 shooting night (and only three free throw attempts) for the extremely talented big man.

Fun with numbers:

Boucher is still fourth in blocks per game and third in points per game amongst undrafted players. The currently sidelined OG Anunoby now leads the NBA in steals per game (2.1), since Cleveland, flush with big men, decided to bring Larry Nance off the bench. Nance was the leader pretty much all season, but only has one steal over his last two games.

Was cool to see Montrealer’s Boucher and Khem Birch battling against each other. Montreal has another Quebecker, rookie Karim Mane, in its system and right behind Boucher in scoring amongst undrafted players is … Lu Dort, from his same Montreal neighbourhood.

THREE STARS

1 — Pascal Siakam

2 — Kyle Lowry

3 — Yuta Watanabe

December-January totals

(Three points for first star, two for second, one for third)

Fred VanVleet 17

Pascal Siakam 17

Kyle Lowry 12

OG Anunoby 9

Chris Boucher 8

Norman Powell 5

Yuta Watanabe 1

Surprised Siakam caught VanVleet, but his recent surge has lifted him significantly. First time Lowry’s ever been third in a monthly roundup (when healthy) since I started doing this.

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