1. RAPTORS RING AND BANNER CEREMONY: Tuesday night’s championship celebration was really cool. So much attention was on the court – rightfully so – but I made sure to try and look into the stands at the faces of so many of the loyal fans who’ve been through all the ups and downs and stayed loyal to the cause. The reactions on their faces were priceless. There was a lot of joy in the house.
2. PASCAL SIAKAM, FRED VANVLEET (Raptors): The Toronto duo combined for 68 points, 23 rebounds and 12 assists on opening night. Both were brilliant. It was another testament to the shrewd scouting of the front office and the focus on player development by the coaching staff. The Raptors have done a fabulous job identifying guys others undervalue and getting huge returns.
3. DANNY GREEN (Lakers): There was so much hype about Kawhi Leonard’s debut with the Clippers last night that folks tend to forget this guy. Green is a true pro who plays the game right on both ends. His 28 points on 7-for-9 three-point shooting made a pretty good first impression.
4. QUIN SNYDER (Jazz): Smart move by Utah’s ownership and management to lock this guy up with a long-term deal. Snyder is an excellent coach who connects with his players and has a great feel for preparation and in-game adjustments. Stability is important. First the Jazz had Jerry Sloan for 23 seasons and now they have Snyder entering his sixth. Hire a guy you believe in, stand by him and positive things will happen.
5. BLAKE GRIFFIN (Pistons): The Detroit forward is out for the start of the season with hamstring and knee issues. He was terrific last year but unfortunately wore down late in the season and couldn’t help them into the playoffs. Griffin is a huge impact player for the Pistons. It’s critical that they get him right and have him on the floor. If Griffin plays, they have a shot at the playoffs. If he doesn’t, Detroit is in big trouble.