As you’re probably aware from the notices that show up in place of ads (if you have AdBlocker) and the reminders at the end of each post at Raptors Republic, we’ve been running a Patreon campaign for the bulk of 2016. As Zarar explained in a post in January:
What I do feel needs to change for sites like Raptors Republic to continue functioning at a high level is to not rely on ads at all. I truly do want to personally apologize to every single reader that they have to suffer through the ads that they see on this site. They’re distracting, useless, click-baity, and get in the way of a good read. At the same time, they’re necessary to keep the ball rolling and produce content at the rate we do. In fact, we’re going to try and give Patreon a try and see if we’re able to muster up enough revenue to keep rolling.
So, if you’re inclined, pledge something and if we meet our goal, we’ll kill the ads. Promise. If you’re a millionaire, just pay the whole damn bill and I’ll send Blake over to shovel your driveway.
We’ve tried not to be invasive with it, and all you’ll usually see as a remind is something like this:
Before we go ahead: We’ve started a Patreon page at patreon.com/RaptorsRepublic. If you appreciate the content we produce, want to support RR, and have the means to do so, any contribution is greatly appreciated and will help us continue to do what we do (and try to do even more).
As small as it may seem, the Patreon support we’ve received from reader has been greatly appreciated and gone a long way toward helping us continue to produce the quality and volume of content that we do. Today’s post is not a call for more support – though, if you have the means ahead of the season, it definitely helps – but a thank you to those who have contributed. The donations of this group, even if it’s just $1 each month, have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.
Admittedly, I didn’t do the best job giving podcast shoutouts to those who reached that pledge level, but allow me an apology and a sincere thank you here to: Joseph, Mark, Brahm, Garrett, Andrew, Adrian, Taylour, Michael, Adam, Julian, and Mercedes (I didn’t want to use last names here, but hopefully you know who you are).
Some people pledged and checked the option not to receive the “reward,” which in this case was only a shoutout anyway, so I’ll avoid naming their names, but they know who they are and I’m sincerely grateful. In addition, we owe a big thank you to anyone who donated below that arbitrary shout-out threshold. (There are also a small handful of people who decided to pull their pledge, and that’s cool, too! Every little bit helped, and we’re still super thankful. If there’s anything we did, though, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know at email@example.com.)
And finally, there’s one pledge level at which I promised I’d pen an essay on a topic of the patron’s choosing. These people are the don mega patrons, the superstarras with the para, the Kyle Lowry with the dowry, the Bruno Caboclo when the float’s low, the…you know what, I’ll stop there. Anyway, a massive thank you to Graeme, who’s idea for an article is something that’s in the pipeline ahead of the season already, and to Keith, who’s request amounted to describing what each Raptor would be as a professional wrestler. Right up my alley. So, here it is, the first ever Patreon Thank You Essay.
Patreon “Thank You, Keith” Essay: The Raptors and their WWE Equivalents
Jarrod Uthoff, Yanick Moreira – Still at the Performance Center
I don’t have enough of a read on these personalities to give a proper connection to, so we’ll have to wait and see until camp.
Fred VanVleet – Austin Aries
An elite track record against lesser competition, what seems like a bit of a chip on the shoulder due to being told he’s too small, questions about whether that size limits an upside at the next level, and a genuine feeling they’ve flown under the radar relative to their talents. I might have to start calling VanVleet “V-Double.”
Drew Crawford – Roderick Strong
Both have shown they can be one of the best at a level just outside the very top. Now’s the chance for either to show their technical proficiency and maturity working with the younger stars can translate on the big stage.
E.J. Singler – Tye Dillinger
This goes beyond the interesting hair choices. Like “The Perfect 10,” watching Singler gives you the feeling that he could pretty seamlessly translate what he does in the D-League/NXT to the main roster in a similar supporting role. Capable of manning multiple positions (working face or heel) and technically sound, it may take a bit of time still, but he’s close.
Jerry Stackhouse – Kane
A bonus one here, because while Stack is no longer an active player, he joked with me at 905 tryouts that if need be, he’s ready to go all player-coach (more on that Friday). So, consider Stack to be Korporate Kane until the roster gets thin and he has to dust off the mask and chokeslam, in this case his jab-step and long-two jumper.
Bruno Caboclo – Tom Magee
Dream on the body, Vince McMahon. Maybe this comparison is too cruel, but for those unaware, Magee was the pinnacle of the “Vince McMahon drooling over a bodybuilder with no actual skill,” a Canadian weightlifting champion with The Look who produced some of the worst matches of all time (one of which Bret Hart talked about at length in his book and apparently WWE employees get in trouble for asking for in the vaults, seriously). For now, Caboclo has only shown he’s a height and a wingspan with a bit of a 3-point shot. Maybe Braun Strowman is a more apt comparison, since Caboclo has shown some flashes of potential and optimism remains cautiously optimistic heading into his third season (more on that next week, by the way).
Pascal Siakam – Apollo Crews
Right now he just looks like boundless energy and a bright smile, but there’s enough showing if you look beneath the surface that you see why the organization is higher on him than those outside.
Jakob Poeltl – Every young big man ever
I’ve got nothing. His finisher is definitely the big boot, though.
Delon Wright – Zach Sabre Jr.
This is high praise on strictly a talent/quality scale, but stick with me. What’s clearly Wright’s biggest strength so far is that he sees the game at a different level, envisioning passes and paths to the rim that aren’t realistic for most players, or even noticeable. Sabre Jr. is known for his ring psychology (on offense, anyway), and an array of holds and submissions few wrestlers before him (save for Chris Jericho, Man of 1,004 Holds) have ventured to attempt. Wright’s biggest weakness is probably his size (hopefully the fact that he’s back in the gym now helps him maintain his early-offseason progress), and the knock on Sabre Jr. is that he looks like he weighs about 120 pounds. Both could pretty clearly be backup-level players at the top level right now, but questions remain as to whether their unique gifts can get them to the top.
Lucas Nogueira – Nathan Jones
There’s a ton of size to dream on and occasionally he’ll pull out a ridiculous spin kick nobody that size has any business doing. Move-to-move and possession-to-possession, though, there’s still a lot to work out, and after a certain amount of time, it can get tougher to believe polish will come. Like Jones, Bebe would make one hell of an actor if he feels like trying something new after his rookie deal expires. More on Nogueira’s situation entering 2016-17 next week.
Terrence Ross – Dolph Ziggler
Has a player ever had an entire fanbase in and then out and then in on them as often as Ross? The only answer may be Ziggler, who has long been miscast as a babyface when he should be taking a cue from Ross, growing out an “Evil Parallel Universe” goatee, and just doing him. The similarities go further – Ross was rebranded from Terrence to Terry to T.J. last year, while Ziggler went from Kerwin White’s caddy to a Spirit Squad member to the Ziggler character. And yes, Ziggler’s double-turn with Alberto Del Rio is the 51-point game here.
Norman Powell – Gran Metalik
Doesn’t speak much and does so quietly when he chooses to. Expectations were somewhat muted as he entered the mix, but match by match, he impressed, first enough to earn a contract and eventually enough that the rocket could conceivably be strapped to him at some point. Metalik somewhat unexpectedly became the (masked) face of the Cruiserweight Classic, while Powell, the lowest-drafted in the group, is the face of the Raptors’ young guns.
Patrick Patterson & Cory Joseph – The Revival
Steady hands that do great work that mostly goes unnoticed if you’re not looking closely or just perusing the box score. The second-unit tag team champs, both have left the impression they could start in the future and make everyone who plays with bench-heavy groups better. Nothing flashy here (no flips, just fists). Top guys, out.
Jared Sullinger – Baron Corbin
I mean, the obvious stomach jokes write themselves. (I really couldn’t think of a good Sullinger comparison.)
DeMarre Carroll – Mark Henry
Another tough one to peg down, because there’s not exactly a great track record of “real” WWE injuries with which to compare Carroll’s list (liver disease, shot in the ankle, arthroscopic surgery). I would have gone with Ken Kennedy for the injury proneness, but Kennedy also had a bunch of other issues. So we give the nod to Henry, a strong veteran presence who brings some good experience and maturity, and who showed flashes of All-Star caliber play when given the chance and not slowed by injury.
Jonas Valanciunas – Roman Reigns
The most polarizing man in our comments matches up with the most polarizing man in the WWE Universe. Based on old-school logic and the way the game’s traditionally been played, both players should be a slam dunk to build a franchise around – Valanciunas can be a back-to-the-basket behemoth, Reigns the good-looking ass-kicker extraordinaire. The issue becomes that tastes have changed and both have developed a little slower than the masses would like. As a result, some see Valanciunas as a relic of a bygone era who won’t improve enough to fit in the modern game, while others think the team should bend more to make use of his talents. For Reigns, it means a good section of the fanbase will boo him no matter what he does, even when he’s good, while another large group still want to see the rocket strapped to him. Sound familiar? In both cases, the objective truth lies somewhere between the two extremes.
DeMar DeRozan – Randy Orton
He’s been near the top level for so long at this point that the discourse sometimes forgets just how well he does the things he’s good at. Sure, he’s inconsistent, the defensive effort can wane, and there’s a sense others could collectively fill the role without losing a ton, but that doesn’t change the fact that fairly often, he’s the second-best player on the court. A career at a point just below superstardom is tough to find and, apparently, even tougher to appreciate.
Kyle Lowry – Daniel Bryan
Undersized, overlooked, attitude concerns (in kayfabe, for Bryan), darlings of the smart fan, reaching All-Star status against all likelihood, and some injury concerns that started to flair up once they reached the top. Yes. Yes. Yes. Now, let’s hope Lowry’s peak and longevity are better ahead of the team giving him a big-money deal into his mid-30s.