If the season-opener is an indication, these aren’t the same old Toronto Raptors. In fact, they’re a much younger version.
The Raptors conquered the Chicago Bulls by a 117-100 count — and while veteran starters such as Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas did their thing, it was the bench bunch that made all the difference.
It’s true that the reserves are led by 30-year old swingman C.J. Miles, a newcomer who delivered with 22 points. But it also features second-year guards Delon Wright and Fred Van Vleet, second-year center Jakob Poeltl, and rookie forward OG Anunoby.
All they did was lead the Raptors to a 17-0 run the minute they stepped on the floor. Not bad for a bunch of young guns.
“I was really impressed with the young group — (they) came in and didn’t look like there were deer in headlights,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters.
Valanciunas was outstanding with 23 points and 15 rebounds. But Lowry and DeRozan didn’t make their usual huge impact. Lowry finished with 12 points and DeRozan scored 11. They combined for just 16 shots.
Meanwhile, Wright had 13 points and Anunoby nine.
“Everybody has another level they can get to offensively and defensively,” Casey said. “It wasn’t a great game. We scored a lot of points but there’s a lot of room for improvement on both ends of the floor.”