02-03-2014, 11:03 AM
Is staring at the rock.
Join Date: Jul 2012
NBA Raptors Mid season report card
2014 Midseason Report Card | NBA.com
FRONT COURT C
Jonas Valanciunas hasn't developed as quickly as most would have hoped. Amir Johnson is still the ultimate glue guy up front. Terrence Ross has been inconsistent since replacing Rudy Gay in the starting lineup.
After a strong start, DeMar DeRozan has cooled off, but his passing has improved steadily. Kyle Lowry has picked up some of the scoring slack and has arguably been the best point guard in the Eastern Conference.
After ranking in the bottom 10 on that end of the floor last season, the Raptors are a top-10 defensive team for just the second time in their history. In Lowry and Johnson, they have strong defenders outside and inside.
The Raptors have had one of the league's best benches since the Gay trade, with three (former) Kings -- Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Greivis Vasquez -- leading the way. Salmons was a plus-110 in his first 19 games in Toronto.
Dwane Casey made a couple of brutal late-game decisions early in the season, but has his team in the top 10 defensively and led them on a 14-6 stretch after they rid themselves of their high-usage, low-efficiency "star."
You're not supposed to lead your division with a .500 record, but that's where the Raptors were at the season's midway point. The futility of the rest of the Atlantic was the biggest factor, but it was trading their highest paid player that turned them from a mediocre team to a good one.
They improved on both ends of the floor after the Gay trade, putting the kibosh on additional shopping of Lowry and giving general manager Masai Ujiri little choice but to go forward with the team he has. Really, even if the Raptors traded Lowry, they'd have a hard time getting into Andrew Wiggins territory in this year's draft.
So Casey gets to keep coaching a roster he can make use of, and Ujiri will still have cap space to work with in the summer. The Raptors are still a few rungs below the best teams in the league, but they've given their fans something to cheer about for the first time in a long time.
Last edited by LX; 02-03-2014 at 11:47 AM.