Raptors bench Canadian big man Chris Boucher, but he'll be back

Rotation not set in stone

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Game 1 is in the books, 81 (and maybe more are still to come).

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Our Raptors Blog returns for another season (unofficially, believe this is season 13 for it, but it could be closer to 15) of analysis of what happened and what might be coming for the Raptors.

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Some thoughts:

— Don’t get too worked up by who was or wasn’t in the rotation on opening night. It’s a long season. Injuries happen, some teams even trade players more than once a year.

Right now, Chris Boucher is out of Darko Rajakovic’s 10-man group and so are veterans Otto Porter and Thaddeus Young. That’s even though Boucher started a pre-season game (when Jakob Poeltl was out), Young was the first reserve in two of the four contests and with Porter being the team’s top free-agent signing a year ago.

On a team with too many wing and big-man options, and not enough guard choices, some players will be left out. Right now, Boucher is the main guy, which has to be tough for the second-longest serving Raptor.

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But Rajakovic cautioned after the game that nothing is set in stone.

“Listen. Chris is (the) ultimate professional. I have high expectations for Chris. I met with him. I talked with him and I told him what I expect to happen in the next days, the next weeks,” Rajakovic said.

“And how he needs to stay ready, and what I expect from him in order to be back in [the] rotation and help us. Chris is (a) very important player for us. There’s no doubt about that. This time, we decided to go with a couple of different players there. They’re still learning. I’m still learning. And you will be seeing Chris over the course of the year, for sure.”

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— Rookie Gradey Dick and free-agent acquisition Jalen McDaniels were the choices ahead of Boucher and Porter. That’s not surprising. The team is high on McDaniels, who does many things well, aside from shooting the basketball, and Dick is a key part of the future who will get a chance to slowly learn the NBA ropes.

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— Pascal Siakam had some issues with Minnesota’s size, shooting only 2-10 in the paint, but still knocked down three three-pointers and handed out six assists while playing well defensively. Siakam has traditionally had a hard time against Rudy Gobert-led defences, like many players.

Overall, Rajakovic says it will take time for Siakam to adapt to a different offence and different expectations, but he’s happy with how he’s doing.

“Just one game, he’s really trying to do what we ask him to do. It’s getting a feel for spacing, for where the shots are coming from, how we can help him to put him in the best situation to create for our team,” Rajakovic said when asked about it by Postmedia after practice on Thursday. “It’s one of those things, it’s a work in progress but I think he’s really trying to do the best.”

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Siakam said he felt great after playing 34 minutes, about 10% fewer than he averaged a season ago, when he led the league in the category.

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— It felt different seeing Dennis Schroder operate. After a decade of Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet at point guard, Schroder is a completely different look.

He’s far quicker than either of the former Raptors and, while not nearly as sound defensively, still disruptive. He brings a new type of threat to the offence, something we haven’t seen in years.

He won’t regularly also hit half of his three-point attempts (4-8), but if he even approaches 40% from deep he’ll be tough to contain.

THREE STARS

1. O.G. Anunoby

2. Scottie Barnes

3. Dennis Schroder

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