Jack Armstrong returns midweek with his thoughts on Jonas Valanciunas's recovery process, the injury to Dillon Brooks, the impending return of Boogie Cousins and more.
1. JONAS VALANCIUNAS (Raptors): It looks like it will be sometime in February when he makes his return from his thumb injury, based on a team update on Wednesday. Obviously the team has missed his scoring punch, screening, rebounding and physicality. As we all know, you’d rather have it happen now than during the playoffs. Serge Ibaka and Greg Monroe have done a solid job with the centre spot as coach Nick Nurse continues to mix and match his lineups. It’s not an ideal situation, but you deal with the cards dealt to you. At 31-12, the Raptors have dealt with adversity quite well so far this season.
2. DILLON BROOKS (Grizzlies): Tough blow for the young Canadian, who has a lot of promise. A toe injury suffered against the Spurs could sideline him for the remainder of the season. Memphis is high on his potential and will be very cautious in bringing him along.
3. RYAN SAUNDERS (Timberwolves): I was thrilled to see him earn his first career win last night. He’s an outstanding person and excellent basketball man. The son of the late Flip Saunders, he’s worked hard to develop his resume. It was great to see how his team responded after their game last night. That’s a sure sign the players both genuinely like and respect their coach.
4. DEMARCUS COUSINS (Warriors): It appears that he’s shooting to make his season debut in the next 10 days. Despite his volatility, he’s a very good talent. Once he’s on the floor and gets some games under his belt we’ll have a much truer and accurate read on Cousin’s play. I think he will be outstanding. The Warriors are far from done.
5. DEWAYNE DEDMON (Hawks): I really like this guy. Productive with 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, he’s shooting a solid 46 per cent from the field, 34.1 per cent from deep and 84.6 per cent from the free-throw line. Dedmon can step away from basket and shoot it, but he also works tirelessly in the post. It’s a good opportunity for him in Atlanta to earn major minutes and develop as a player. He’s taking full advantage of it.