Raptors @ Pelicans

Anthony Davis is a tall, good basketballer.

I could end my article right here, but I have a feeling that wouldn’t fly with the editors. So, let’s talk about the Pelicans. With the offseason addition of Julius Randle, the Pellies added more intrigue. After never having attempted more than 0.9 threes per game throughout his career, Julius has found himself in a tough spot. Considering the NBA’s current climate (with the league’s best teams come seemingly infinite spacing), Randle is likely going to expand his game to the three-point line, à la Jonas Valanciunas. In his three preseason games so far, he has already attempted six three-pointers, a trend that I anticipate will stick this season. If Randle can open up the floor next to Anthony Davis, it would dramatically help offset Elfrid Payton’s inability (and unwillingness) to shoot threes (career 30 percent from downtown).

At the beginning of last season, the Pelicans trotted out the league’s eighth-worst defensive rating (if you didn’t know, this is quite bad); however, after DeMarcus Cousins went down with an Achilles injury this past January, New Orleans finished off the regular season with the NBA’s fourth-best defensive rating. The Pelicans are poised to make a defensive leap this year, employing a starting lineup with two seriously staunch defenders and a revitalized, switchable Julius Randle.

But, let’s forget about the Pelicans for just a second. This is a Raptors website, and Kawhi Leonard lives in Toronto now. I feel obligated to, at the very least, mention his name in every article I write (even though it’s extremely unlikely he plays tonight). So far, it looks like Kawhi fits right in. With every minute Leonard spends on the court, he appears increasingly comfortable. With every bucket Leonard makes comes another quote about how he “looks like he feels at home” (excuse me while I swoon so hard the ghost of Hedo Turkoglu gets freed from purgatory). Seeing a true, top-level talent put on a Raptors jersey and perform to the height of his abilities is not something I’ve grown accustomed to. If all goes according to plan, I’m accepting resumés for an intern to pinch me full-time. You know, just to make sure I’m not dreaming.


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