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Raptor of the Week: Gary Trent Jr. still has Canada swooning

After a long five-game week, the Toronto Raptors will look to regain some health and perhaps try to get some relief somewhere.

The shorthanded Raptors finished the week 2-3, picking up wins against the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, while dropping games to the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, and New York Knicks. The Raptors once again found themselves without three starters over the course of the week, losing Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet to injury and the team opting to rest Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby on either side of the back-to-back set.

Still, the team continued to compete all week, never giving up despite finding themselves down early and clawing back from double-digit deficits in each of the three losses to make it competitive. They needed players to step up, and they received some remarkable performances as they tried to make up for the shortage of players. Still, one player stood out above the rest, and is continuing his sensational play since arriving on the scene.

For the second consecutive week, the Raptor of the Week is…

Gary Trent Jr.

Raptors' Gary Trent Jr. hits buzzer-beating game-winning 3-pointer (video)

This Week’s Stats: 20.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 48.8% FG, 38.9% 3FG

As much as I wanted to avoid going with the same Raptor two weeks in a row, after the week Trent had, it simply could not be avoided.

Gary Trent Jr. is making one heck of an introduction to his new teammates, coaches, and the entire country of Canada right now. Just a week removed from scoring a career-high 31 points, Trent decided to one-up himself on Saturday and scored 44 points versus the Cavaliers on 17-of-19 shooting.

Oh, and don’t forget about this one from Monday:

Despite the two stinkers in between against the Lakers and Bulls, by sheer virtue of the two jaw-droppers he had against Washington and Cleveland, he has to earn the honours once again. To cap the week, he had a nice game against the Knicks as well, dropping 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting.

Trent is proving that he can be an impact player for this team on a nightly basis, and it’s not just about the volume of scoring; he is showcasing the ability to score off the dribble and getting to his spots. Offensively, he has played fluidly and is getting good separation to create open shots for himself. Defensively, he’s been holding his own, showing an impressive ability as an on-ball defender, which is the way Nick Nurse likes to play.

Trent is fitting in seamlessly on the Raptors, and he is endearing himself to Canada already. The Raptors acquired him with the idea that he still has room to grow and that he could be a fixture on this team for years to come, and so far, that gamble appears to be a success.

Congratulations to Gary Trent Jr. on this prestigious award, and the first to win twice in a row!

Honourable Mention – Malachi Flynn

This Week’s Stats: 12.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 6.2 APG, 2.0 SPG, 39.7% FG, 45.5% 3FG

While Trent stole the spotlight with some highlight reel moments this week, Malachi Flynn deserves a shout out for the incredibly solid string of games he’s put up as of late as well.

The rookie made his first two career starts this and posted a double-double against the Cavs, finishing with 20 points and 11 assists. Just as the guard situation was looking bleak due to injury, Flynn has stepped in and provided excellent effort on both ends. He even earned fourth quarter minutes in the game against New York, hitting a key triple to give the Raptors the lead (it was originally back-to-back triples, but one was later nullified due to stepping out of bounds).

His decision-making and court awareness is improving by the day, and this experience is going to be extremely valuable for him as he looks to establish himself as a rotational piece going forward. His energy and playmaking has been a huge plus — especially given how decimated the backcourt currently is — and I expect that this stretch has established him as the first guard off the bench from here on out.

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