The Toronto Raptors’ success story is secret no more. After a surprising first half of the season, the Raps sit 4 games above .500 at 28-24. After getting praise from superstars Kevin Durant and LeBron James, it is clear that everyone is starting to take notice of the sole team north of the border.
It’s evident that a significant amount of their success is due to their phenomenal back-court of Kyle Lowry and all-star DeMar DeRozan. Considering DD made the all-star team when the consensus by analysts has been that Lowry deserved it more than him, it speaks volumes about just how great both of them have been.
One can now make a valid argument for these two consisting of an elite back-court, and possibly the best in the Eastern conference.
I was supposed to do this a while ago, thus the stats are a bit outdated (Jan 29th), but nothing has really changed.
PER for Eastern Conference back-courts (figures courtesy of RealGM)
1. TOR Lowry/Derozan 38.4 (74.0mpg)
2. MIA Chalmers/Wade 36.4 (62.0)
3. WSH Wall/Beal 34.4 (69.6)
4. BKN Williams/Johnson 32.8 (64.0)
5. CLE Irving/Waiters 32.6 (64.1)
6. ORL Nelson/Afflalo 32.3 (70.9)
7. CHA Walker/Henderson 31.7 (68.9)
8. IND Hill/Stephenson 30.1 (66.9)
9. ATL Teague/Korver 30.0 (67.2)
10. PHI Williams/Anderson 28.8 (63.6)
11. MIL Knight/Mayo 27.2 (58.3)
12. DET Jennings/Pope 26.0 (61.3)
13. CHI Rose/Butler 23.4 (67.0)
14. NYK Felton/Shumpert 22.7 (60.3)
15. BOS Rondo/Bradley 17.6 (55.3)
PER of league-wide back-courts
1. LAC Paul/Redick 45.9 (63.6mpg)
2. PHX Bledsoe/Dragic 41.9 (68.0)
3. TOR Lowry/Derozan 38.4 (74.0)
4. MEM Conley/Allen 37.6 (61.2)
5. GSW Curry/Thompson 36.6 (75.7)
6. MIA Chalmers/Wade 36.4 (62.0)
7. POR Lillard/Matthews 36.2 (70.2)
8. HOU Lin/Harden 35.9 (69.7)
9. WSH Wall/Beal 34.4 (69.6)
10. DEN Lawson/Foye 33.5 (62.0)
11. NO Holiday/Gordon 33.1 (66.2)
12. SAS Parker/Green 33.0 (53.8)
13. DAL Calderon/Ellis 32.9 (68.0)
14. BKN Williams/Johnson 32.8 (64.0)
15. CLE Irving/Waiters 32.6(64.1)
16. ORL Nelson/Afflalo 32.3 (70.9)
17. MIN Rubio/Martin 32.3 (63.7)
18. OKL Westbrook/Sefolusha 32.0 (59.2)
19. SAC Thomas/Thornton 31.9 (57.7)
20. CHA Walker/Henderson 31.7 (68.9)
21. UTA Burke/Hayward 31.4 (67.2)
22. IND Hill/Stephenson 30.1 (66.9)
23. ATL Teague/Korver 30.0 (67.2)
24. PHI Williams/Anderson 28.8 (63.6)
25. MIL Knight/Mayo 27.2 (58.3)
26. DET Jennings/Pope 26.0 (61.3)
27. LAL Blake/Bryant 24.6 (61.4)
28. CHI Rose/Butler 23.4 (67.0)
29. NYK Felton/Shumpert 22.7 (60.3)
30. BOS Rondo/Bradley 17.6 (55.3)
PER is a simple, raw measure of payer performance, and it’s evident that Klow and DD are near the top. It would be hard to argue against them being the best back-court in the East when considering everything. Lowry has been the best point guard in the East thus far, and one can argue DeRozan has been the best or second to only Dwyane Wade who sits out half of his games (thus inflating his PER as well).
The eye test favors the Raps as well. Historically, a Deron Williams/Joe Johnson back-court would have looked nice, however at this point in their respective careers, it doesn’t even compare. I’d say the only back-court in the East that is close is John Wall/Bradley Beal, however I would still give a significant edge to the Raps’ duo.
Considering the rest of the Raptors roster, it’s clear that the back-court has had to shoulder the load, and they have led this team to the 3rd seed in the East. That feat right there is more impressive than anything else – the Wiz have players like Nene and Marcin Gortat. Lowry and DD are the undisputed leaders of the team, and have created situations for young guys like Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas to thrive in.
Moving towards the rest of the league, I would rank their back-court third behind Chris Paul/JJ Redick and Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson.
While Redick is nowhere close to DeRozan, Chris Paul compensates for that. The guy is without a doubt the top point guard in the league, and JJ is an above average shooting guard. Thus, the edge goes to the Clips back-court. I would say Curry/Thomson are also (slightly) better as well. The Raps duo has the advantage defensively, however from a pure offensive standpoint the edge goes to the ‘splash bros’. Mind you, this is very very close.
Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe have been extremely impressive as well, but with Bledsoe’s injury, you have to think those stats are inflated. Regardless, these two have led the Suns, a projected lottery team, to a playoff spot in the West.
The bottom line is that DeRozan is an indisputable top 5 SG, and Lowry is at the very least a top 7 PG this season. Try to find me another back-court with those feats.
Where do you think the Raps duo ranks? Leave a comment and let us know!