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Toronto Raptors Weekly Rap: Average Is The New Awesome

This past week was fairly average, but the Toronto Raptors would definitely take a .500 record over nothing. Starting off with an entertaining game – unfortunately a loss – you were able to see some of the bests of Andrea Bargnani – likely his best game all season – and Rudy Gay against the Golden State Warriors. T. Dot went on to take a blowout victory over the Phoenix Suns, where Sebastian Telfair was able to get sample time, and make use of it against his former team. Another entertaining game – resulting in a loss – against the Los Angeles Lakers, saw a young man DeMar DeRozan take the spotlight in his home state, was countered by the greatness of Kobe Bryant. The Raps ended the week with a comeback win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, which saw Amir Johnson and Mr. Kyle Lowry step up, and help the team get over the hump against a young Cavalier club.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors

Team Record: 2-2

Team Grade: B

The team deserves a B. Why? Because in their losses – Los Angeles, Golden State – they fought extremely hard, and they were able to put up a valiant effort against two teams that are quite frankly much more talented than the Raptors are. Beating a team they should have in Phoenix, which ultimately lead to a blowout, resulting in a feeling the Raptor fans haven’t felt in awhile. Overcoming a 17 point deficit isn’t an easy feat, and even though it’s against the Cleveland Cavaliers, they are a young bunch that are extremely athletic, and lead by the first time NBA All-Star, Kyrie Irving. Effort was definitely there, but they just didn’t have enough in the gas – or enough talent – to get over the hump in those close losses.

Rudy Gay: C

He had a terrific game against the Warriors, but after his performance, his numbers and effort steadily declined, thus ending this respective week in an injury. Didn’t contribute much to a blowout win in Phoenix, and could have helped a lot more to the Raptors down the stretch of the Laker game, missing two easy, open shots. But, when the coaching staff is putting the trust in you, you had better deliver. Unfortunately, he didn’t do it this week.

Kyle Lowry: B-

He’s been solid, nothing great, nothing bad. He’s been a steady point guard for this club. He played within a balance this week, and while you wish he could be more aggressive and or assertive throughout the duration of the games, he’s been running the team with control, and whenever he’s off the floor, the offense just doesn’t flow as well. Or, that could mean John Lucas III is the back-up.. Oh, having a near triple-double isn’t all too bad in helping your grade.

Andrea Bargnani: C+

Probably the one week where we’ve seen the best performances, and efforts out of him. He was rebounding the ball, he was engaged defensively, he was ready to help, and he was playing within the flow of the offense. Golden State was a great example, 26 points, 7 rebounds and a blocked shot is a great stat-line for him. Phoenix came by, and being a blowout, he wasn’t needed the full duration of the game. Reason he’s not getting an above average of a grade was him getting injured in the first half of the Laker game. As much as Raptor fans have been hard on him, he was really getting it rolling, and it looked like he was finally finding his ‘niche’ on the team.

DeMar DeRozan: A

DeMar DeRozan. He’s had a fantastic week. He struggled in Cleveland, but he was able to get to the free throw line, and helped his teammates with 6 assists. Other than that game, he was efficient. He was able to contribute to the team by playing hard in different facets of the game, but his best performance was against his idol growing up, and in his home state, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. 28 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and while those stats don’t tell the whole story, he passed the eye test. The post game was in full form, he was attacking the rim, and was a factor in other parts of the  game. Hopefully he can keep this play up, and many will be expecting that from him.

Jonas Valanciunas: B+

He seriously needs to play in the 4th quarter. He was battling hard with Dwight Howard in the Laker game, and throughout the week, he brought his ever persistent energy, rebounding, and low post banging. He’s showed some signs of brilliance on the offensive end, and while the future is bright, he’s looking pretty darn good right now. Good week for him.

Amir Johnson: A+

I honestly don’t think this has to be explained. This guy is a warrior. Fights through pain, plays through injuries, and does everything in his power to get his team over the hump. His performance this past week was magnificent, and to say that he isn’t getting much credit, that’s an understatement, especially for the things he does on the court.

Alan Anderson: C

Streaky, streaky, inconsistent, inconsistent. It was another one of the those weeks. This man is a great perimeter defender, he’s a solid offensive player, and a good character. BUT, he is not an NBA superstar, and while you credit the confidence, he’s starting to get too much free reign on the offensive end, and needs to go back to being the tough, experienced role player he is. Anderson, when someone is playing great on the offensive end – *cough* Demar Derozan *cough* – please, don’t keep shooting. Just, please, just pass the ball.

Terrence Ross: C+

Got minimal time, but ended the week off with a bang. With an injured Rudy Gay, Coach Dwane Casey decides to plug Ross in at the starting five. Against a young athletic Cleveland team, it was good to be able to replace Gay with another athletic wing with perimeter capabilities. 14 points, 5 rebounds. He was inefficient, but he was making use of his time, and while on the court, his confidence was obvious. He tries those highlight plays, and has a stage presence only some great players have. He has all the tools to be a solid NBA starter.

Photo credit to USA TODAY Sports, John E. Sokolowski

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