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Toronto Raptors Season Review: Backcourt

With the departure of Cory Joseph, it looked to be a worrisome beginning to the season for the Toronto Raptors. Losing a player the calibre of Joseph is no easy task as he was debatably one of the best backup points in the league. It became Wright and VanVleet’s time to shine and shine they did. So much that some in Raptors Nation are wondering if some of these stars are shining too bright to be in the same spot for long in an already crowded backcourt given Kyle Lowry’s presence.

Delon Wright

20.8 MIN, 8.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG, .366 3P%, .520 2P%, .829 FT% 

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It seemed like a roller coaster year for Delon but after the injuries and inconsitencies he settled into a valuable role for the Raptors – a swiss army knife guard that at times slid all the way to Small Forward to fit the Raptors needs. After two previous seasons hampered by injury Wright appeared in 69 games for the Raptors and showed us the rangy defender we expected him to be out of college. More unexpectedly, Wright seemed to channel the family jumper this season as he averaged a very respectable 36% from three. He was crucial to the Raptors’ success in the Washington series as their backcourt had difficulty beating his length off the dribble as he also showed his range and unpredictability on the offensive end.

Verdict: B

  • The season started with some regular worry for Wright, will his health stay or will he go down again for a significant amount of time. It seemed to be the latter, but he bounced back and gave us what we’ve wanted out of him since he was drafted. At 26 he’s older for a third-year player but he’s got saavy and a lack of mileage that shouldn’t worry too many Raptors fans. With the emergence of VanVleet, it’ll be interesting to see if the Raptors maintain their three-headed monster at point or dangle one of their assets for an upgrade. Delon is a valuable piece.

Fred VanVleet

Placed third in ’18 Sixth Man of the Year voting

Re-signed with the Toronto Raptors on a two-year, $18 million contract

20.0 MIN, 8.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .414 3P%, .437 2P%, .832 FT% 

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Who in the world saw this coming? Fred entered the season as the definitive third point guard. Despite the departure of Joseph, it was expected that Wright would take that spot in Casey’s two guard lineup. Why, it was even expected that two-way Lorenzo Brown – who has more NBA experience than Vanvleet – would see minutes as the third guard. Instead, the undrafted and undersized guard took the position and ran with it. Becoming a calming force for the bench mob while being a threat from deep and off the dribble. Finishing third in sixth-man voting was a great accomplishment that not only represented his own success but seemed to be a vote for the bench mob as a whole.

Verdict: A

  • Fred re-signed with the Raptors for two years, $18 million. A great deal that is not only deserving of his production but also coincides with the expiration of DeRozan, Ibaka, and Lowry’s contract. A lot of players have had excellent seasons off of relatively unknown season. Now that the book is out on him, let’s see if his success can be improved on.

Kyle Lowry

Re-signed with the Toronto Raptors on a three-year, $100 million contract

32.2 MIN, 16.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .399 3P%, .474 2P%, .854 FT% 

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In a culture changing season for the Toronto Raptors, Kyle Lowry seemed to embrace his role change almost immediately. Don’t be mistaken, he still put up some incredible performances – scoring 36 against the Hornets and 40 in a loss to the Timberwolves. But Kyle Lowry’s style of play this year was almost a complete contrast to his more individually successful seasons. By limiting his usage and shaving five minutes of his shifts, we saw a significant improvement in late-season and post-season Lowry. Regardless, the result of the season was the same and many are left wondering what the future holds for a 32 year-old Lowry with two years and about $60m left on his contract.

Verdict: B

  • As one of the leaders of this squad he’s graded more harshly and he’s still rewarded with a B. Kyle has the type of game that is going to last in this league for a while. Reminiscent of Chris Paul, what we saw out of Lowry this season was that he has the mind and skill to be productive with less usage on the court. Difference being, as a dead eye shooter he doesn’t need the ball to pick his spots. The new system fits him great, but with the off-season in flux for every NBA team we wait and see what’s next for Lowry and the Raps.

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