After defeating the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Washington Wizards, the Toronto Raptors entered this past week on a two-game win-streak. Sitting atop of the division lead at (6-7), the Raptors looked to sustain their (mediocre) success, in hopes of being a .500+ team (which as we know, can take you pretty far in the East). While already in the midst of a season-high, four–game home stand (which saw them win the first game), the Raptors entertained the likes of the Brooklyn Nets, the Miami Heat, and the Denver Nuggets for the remainder of it. In what could’ve been a potential up rise for the Toronto Raptors in this early season ended up being a complete mischance; failing to come victorious in any of their three games last week. Yet, despite their current three-game losing-streak, they still sit atop the Atlantic Division at (6-10). Make of it what you will.
Team Grade: C+
I’ll give the Toronto Raptors a passing grade for the week, only because they were able to thoroughly compete against the Brooklyn Nets, and Miami Heat, despite being down by double-digits in the second-half of both games. Overall though, the offense as a whole was abysmal throughout crucial moments in just about every game last week, while their defense showed various signs of promise. Lack of ball movement continues to be a problem on this team; and the same goes for shot-selection. The defense has shown positive strides, but needs to be better throughout a consistent 48-minute stretch.
DeMar DeRozan: A-
Although the Raptors’ success has been limited as of late, that’s not to say it’s been the same for DeMar DeRozan. Heading into the week and playing some of his best basketball yet, DeMar’s torrid offensive-stretch continued this past week, as he posted some fairly respectable numbers. Averaging 23 points, on just under 50% shooting, DeRozan has not only looked like an elite-scorer (he’s 12th in the league in scoring), but a definitive All-Star as well. It’s unfortunate that his efforts have had nothing to show for in the standings thus far.
Rudy Gay: C-
While continuing to shoot under 40% on the season, Rudy Gay’s offensive woes were on full display once again this week, as he continued to produce at an inefficient rate. He averaged 17.6 points for the week, but shot just a poor 39% from the floor. To his credit, he’s had the task of handling the likes of LeBron James, Paul Pierce, and Wilson Chandler, which can be a handful for just about anyone. His rebounding and defensive-intensity is probably the only silver-lining to this young season for him thus far, as he’s evidently shown to be our best defender. Too bad he doesn’t get paid 17.9million this season to simply showcase his defensive-attributes.
Kyle Lowry: B+
While ball movement continues to be a common flaw on this Raptors team, the finger can certainly not be pointed to Kyle Lowry. While finally setting aside from all his injurious, the Philadelphia-native has done whatever he can to help penetrate this offense, despite what others have been doing. He’s a vital component to this Raptors’ team, and showed exactly that during Toronto’s efforts to comeback vs Brooklyn/Miami. He averaged 18.6 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals last week, and looked a lot more comfortable than he normally has.
Jonas Valanciunas: B-
While seeing just over 20 minutes of floor-time against the likes of Brooklyn, and Miami, Valanciunas was deprived of being able to showcase his talents earlier in the week, as Dwane Casey chose to go with a smaller lineup (which wasn’t necessarily a bad idea). After remaining on the sidelines for the majority of the Nets/Heat games, Valanciunas got the call on Sunday afternoon, and answered the bell. Shooting 8/16 from the floor, Valanciunas scored a respectable 18 points, while hauling down 11 rebounds as well. It was one of JV’s most promising performances of the year, as he failed to shy away from various offensive possessions, and demonstrated his assertiveness as well.
Amir Johnson: F
It’s not every day you see Amir Johnson receive a failing grade on “The Weekly Rap”, but it certainly is for good reason. While being known for his motor, and continuous work-ethic on and off the floor, Amir Johnson was absolutely non-existent this week, failing to make an impact on either end of the floor. His play caused him to lose his starting job for the time-being, and will come off of the bench as the team’s 6th man, where they hope he’ll provide a spark once again.
Tyler Hansborough: C+
While his stat-sheet won’t appeal anyone on a nightly-basis, it’s the passion and energy that Hansborough brings to the floor that ignites his team’s play. Playing substantially bigger minutes in the Raptors’ three games this week, Hansborough was able to insert himself into the starting lineup for the time-being, thanks to his momentous play.
Terrence Ross: C+
While sustaining a solidified, and valuable spot in the Raptors’ rotation, the sophomore guard out of Washington appears to be a lot more confident than he did last year. Receiving some crucial minutes in crunch-time, Terrence Ross has showcased his ability to hit the outside shot, while demonstrating his defensive-intensity that both Bryan Colangelo, and Dwane Casey raved about coming out of college. He will certainly be a significant piece going forward for the Toronto Raptors, especially coming off of the bench.
Steve Novak: C+
Playing limited minutes in a justified role, Steve Novak continues to do what he does best; shooting threes. His floor spacing evidently helped the Raptors’ efforts this week, and was able to showcase his smooth-stroke during his limited action on the floor (shot 41% from deep).
Dwight Buycks: C-
The back-up point guard battle continues to be nothing but a mystery, and Dwight Buycks continues to get every bit of an opportunity to lock it up. Unfortunately for him, he hasn’t done a good enough job to do so, thus leaving the door open for both DJ Augustin and Julyan Stone to steal it from him. His minutes continue to decrease, and that’s in large part due to his disastrous play. Aside from Lowry, the point-guard play has been horrendous this year.
Landry Fields: C-
While his minutes have drastically decreased, it appears as if Fields’ contribution towards the Raptors’ rotation will be limited for the time being. Despite what appeared to be positive play from him earlier on this season, it has seen him ride the bench for the vast majority of games. That was the case this week as well.
DJ Augustin: C-
He played just over 4 minutes against Brooklyn on Tuesday night, and hasn’t gotten another opportunity to hit the court since then, thanks to a couple of DNP’s – Coach’s Decision. Luckily for him, Buycks hasn’t been superb in the backup PG role. There’s still hope for the Texas product!
Julyan Stone: C-
Julyan Stone played just over 9 minutes against his former team the Denver Nuggets on Sunday afternoon, in hopes of finding some sort of spark on both ends of the floor for Dwane Casey. He was held scoreless, while grabbing two rebounds, dishing out two assists, and recording one steal. He too, remains in the hunt for the backup PG spot. Yup, it’s a mess.
Quincy Acy: C-
Not much to evaluate from Acy here, as his role on this team continues to be miniscule.
Aaron Gray, Austin Daye: N/A
As expected, neither Aaron Gray, nor Austin Daye has received any sort of floor-time this week.
On another note, for any NFL fan, this is a must read. Check out this NBA/NFL comparison done by Best Tickets blog, comparing and contrasting various figures and statistics.