The Rap-Up: Toronto Raptors Video games March 15-21
Buckle up for 10 bumpy days!
Scripting this weekly column will get actually fascinating each time the commerce deadline approaches. Who’s commercially obtainable? Which groups purchase or promote? How is each good participant associated in a technique or one other in commerce rumors to contenders?
Take this week for instance. The Pistons unofficially kicked off the business season with a minor deal (Hamidou Diallo for Svi Mihailiuk plus a 2nd spherical choose). Has Troy Weaver completed processing or is there some reality behind the Jerami Grant rumors? Is Current signing of Utah Ersan Ilyasova, a precursor of larger strikes for one of the best crew within the NBA? With Larry Nance Jr. and Kevin Love (keep in mind him?) Again within the lineup, will Javale McGee be part of Andre Drummond on the Cleveland commerce block?
For the Raptors, many of the enterprise speak has been about Kyle Lowry (accurately), however there is not sufficient speak about Norm Powell. His $ 11.6 million participant choice subsequent season is manner beneath his market worth – the truth is, it is nearly double that quantity! Earlier than you balk at that evaluation, take one other take a look at his stats as a starter this season.
22.2 factors, 52% FG%, 46% 3 factors FG%, 91% FT%, 121 offensive ranking, in 33.5 minutes.
Let’s examine these numbers with one other participant with comparable stats, additionally in his sixth season.
23.8 factors, 49% FG%, 44% 3 factors FG%, 91% FT%, 122 offensive ranking, in 32.7 minutes.
The second participant is Steph Curry in 2014-15, his first MVP season! That is to not say that Norm is on his technique to spectacular materials, or value most enlargement, however his worth is actually within the vary of the others incomes $ 20 million (Terry Rozier, $ 18.9 million; Aaron Gordon, $ 20 million; Gary Harris, $ 21 million).
There is a feeling of Ibaka-Gasol déjà vu on the horizon, as Toronto might solely have sufficient to supply Lowry. or Powell the contracts they want. With the grace with which his sport has aged, in addition to its apparent significance to the franchise, Lowry would doubtless get the primary supply. All of this results in the query of the day: Is Norm Powell probably the most tradable asset?
The worth of Norm has by no means been greater. He has confirmed himself to be one of many league’s high bench scorers and hasn’t missed a beat – improved, the truth is – in transitioning to a starter function. For all of you, together with Aron Baynes in all of your bogus trades, take into account that Powell solely earns $ 4 million greater than him.
If Lowry had been traded, Raptor followers would really feel devastated whatever the comeback. If Powell had been traded, I assume the fan response would rely upon what Toronto will get in return. We have all witnessed his development from being chosen within the second spherical to the norm of the playoffs, to sixth candidate of the 12 months, and now to being a stable starter.
The choices of Bobby Webster and Masai Ujiri over the subsequent 10 days will present clearer course on the course the crew will take this 12 months and past. Powell might not match into Toronto’s future, however he is taking advantage of his current!
Now let’s transfer on to this week’s picks.
The seventeenth of March @ Detroit Pistons
One of many many miserable results of the pandemic is the lack of a house sport at Little Caesars Area. Oh, what would I give for listening to a “Let’s Go Raptors” chant within the Toronto house away from house (sure, I simply slandered Tampa and Detroit in the identical sentence).
When these groups met earlier than the All-Star break, the Pistons lacked a Most Improved Participant candidate, Jerami Grant. He is averaging 23.6 factors, which is an effective bounce from final season (12.0). He is additionally seen his FG% drop (48% to 43%), his FG% 3 factors (39% to 35%), and none of his different conventional stats have seen important will increase, regardless of elevated utilization ( from 18.0 to 27.4). Wait, why is he a candidate for the MIP?
In any case, the Celtics are apparently focused on his companies. My take? Go forward and (lastly) use these strengths to make a great, not a giant one. Grant has a wonderfully symmetrical taking pictures array – 33% in every of the three taking pictures areas: on the edge, mid-range and past the arc. In forwards, his accuracy is the same as or lower than common in all three areas. With the return of Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby (in addition to Fred VanVleet), Grant might be in for a tricky night time on the offensive finish.
Enjoyable reality that may solely curiosity me
The enjoyable reality of this match has nothing to do with Detroit, however every part to do with the vilification of Grant’s MIP candidacy!
Chris Boucher is extra worthy of the award and here is why. He acquired the keys to the bench (minutes skipped from 13.2 to 24.0) and improved his rating percentages in all areas, have greater than doubled his rating (6.6 to 14.1), and has extra makes an attempt blocked at 3 factors than 28 … the groups!
Boucher has 16 on the season (the third highest crew whole is Denver with 15) and the Raptors have 28 as a crew. Matisse Thybulle is second with 10, whereas his Sixers have a complete of 23. The third highest particular person whole, sarcastically, is Jerami Grant with eight.
The Raptors by no means (ever) lose 24 factors in opposition to Detroit. Mason Plumlee and Dennis Smith Jr. don’t compile a triple-double (that is earlier than acknowledging the returns of Grant and Delon Wright, who each missed the final assembly). With 3 days off and, presumably, the return of three starters, Toronto is not going to waste time in revenge. The Raptors beat the Pistons, 120-107, in entrance of a crowd with out Pistons followers … as is normally the case in downtown Toronto.
March 19 vs Utah Jazz
The Raptors have their first probability at one of the best crew within the NBA. Utah is reaching three at a historic fee.
The Raptors’ defensive philosophy of converging on all readers within the paint and operating out of 3-point shooters was profitable final season (33.7% 3-point opponents FG%, No.1 in NBA ), however not a lot this season (37.8)%, # 25). Utah having a great historic 3-point offense will not be excellent news for Toronto.
In a weird function reversal, the Raptors should fear about Utah’s transitional offensive. The Jazz have the # 1 transition offense, in factors per play, whereas the Raptors have the # 27 protection on this space. Yeah, that is not excellent news for Toronto both.
Thanks largely to Rudy Gobert, the Jazz rank fifth in offensive rebound proportion. The Raptors are twenty eighth to defend this explicit stat. Say it with me: this isn’t excellent news for Toronto.
Enjoyable reality that may solely curiosity me
If the Utah Jazz proceed their robust sport and find yourself as a seed within the West, that bodes effectively for the Raptors on this sport.
Final season, the Lakers completed the season because the No. 1 seed within the West. Toronto swept the collection this season.
Two seasons in the past, the Warriors completed the season because the No. 1 seed within the West. Does anybody keep in mind how this season unfolded?
Three seasons in the past, the Rockets completed with one of the best document within the West. You guessed it, the Raptors have swept this season as effectively.
Toronto kicks off this intimidating combat with a six-game profitable streak in opposition to the West’s high crew.
In the event you like fashions, try the current historical past of this rivalry. Within the 2013-14 season, the Raptors gained the primary of a potential four-game profitable streak in opposition to Utah, which was a greater crew for Toronto. The Jazz prevented Toronto from claiming the primary 5-game profitable streak in November 2015. Later that season, the Raptors gained the primary of one other 4-game profitable streak. In January 2018, the Jazz would forestall the streak from hitting 5. The subsequent sport was the beginning of one other 4-game profitable streak in opposition to Utah – the place we’re at this time. In the event you’ve ignored that sample and ignored the truth that the Raptors should be shorthanded (or not less than nonetheless work their starters on the type of play) and ignored the splits of their respective crew information, Utah is one of the best crew, interval. Jazz blows up the Raptors, 128-115.
March twenty first @ The Cleveland Cavaliers
After Cleveland missed the bubble, Kevin Love was desperate to return to the sphere in December. Sadly, he suffered from calf pressure within the second sport of the season. He would spend the subsequent seven weeks recovering, nonetheless desperate to return, this time after the All-Star break. In a merciless accident, Love pulled out of Sport 2 of his comeback after feeling uncomfortable along with his injured calf. With 13 seasons and practically 25,000 minutes of mileage, it is arduous to see the previous All-Star battling damage.
On the intense facet, Cleveland additionally hosted Larry Nance Jr., who had missed the earlier 12 video games after present process left hand surgical procedure. Previous to his damage, Nance was among the many league’s leaders in interceptions and deflections. Pairing him within the frontcourt with Jarrett Allen is a constructive signal for Cleveland’s future (and a giant dose of wishful pondering for Raptors followers).
Enjoyable reality that may solely curiosity me
Andre Drummond is in his ninth NBA season and has performed 624 profession video games.
Chris Boucher is in his 4th NBA season and has performed 129 profession video games.
Drummond is youthful than Boucher!
If there was a silver bullet to the lack of the Raptors, it is a date with Cleveland. The Cavs have the worst 3-point protection, surrender transition alternatives at a frequency that ranks twenty ninth, return the ball on the worst fee within the league and are additionally the worst 3-point taking pictures crew. Toronto excels in all 4 of those areas. So despite the fact that (when) the Cavs are oblivious to downtown – as we all know Cedi Osman goes to hit 4 threes within the first half – the Raptors ought to nonetheless expose Cleveland’s different weaknesses. The Raptors finish the week on a excessive notice, beating the Cavs, 125-110.