Raps Up 9 (7–2)

Nine random observations from the last nine Raptors games

  1. Holy Shit! Demar Darnell Derozan is currently the best scorer in the world. And it wasn’t by listening to everyone’s offseason wish by working on his three point shot. It’s like he received a Malcolm Gladwell video game achievement. Shoot 10,000 mid-range jump shots in order to achieve mastery. Ironically, Derozan’s averaging 34 points a game in a league that has preached against any shot in between the three point line and the restricted area. Yet that’s his home and defenders are being forced to work in an unfamiliar, thus uncomfortable, area. He draws fouls on defensive impulses. He’s decisive in pulling up when given space. He unleashes gorgeous pivot moves when you think you’ve got him trapped. He can use both hands, and has a floater, off of euro-step moves. Haters will tell you that 52% shooting in the 15–19 foot range, where he has taken the majority of his shots, is unsustainable. Longtime fans will tell you to shut up and watch the man cook.
  2. How about the rookies? Pascal Siakham, the 27th pick in the draft, looks like he could develop into an elite defender. Jacob Poetl’s shown defensive positioning instincts ahead of his years. Bebe’s hair, length on defence, and PNR chemistry with Lowry has been incredible over the last couple of games. Who’s this Sullinger and Biyombo?
  3. Beware the Huskies. MLSE is trying to inception the idea of a franchise name change. The whole “paying homage” to a team that played one season in the 50s is bullshit. They’re testing the waters. I went to the game. They put a lot of effort into the whole thing. New court, new jerseys, and a couple well done videos. It all made too much sense. The blue they used was the same blue on the other major Toronto franchises, the Leafs and Blue Jays. The husky is more relevant to our geographic location and branding. Admitedly, it’s a pretty cool animal. But not cooler than a freaking dinosaur! Is the franchise just going to keep riding hot media moments? Raptors from Jurassic Park. “We the North”/Huskies from Game of Thrones. At the game it felt to childlike and similiar to the Timberworlves. We’ve all learned to love the Raptors. Why change it?
  4. All that partying in Brazil with team U.S.A. has led to the end of “skinny Kyle Lowry”. Sub-optimal physical shape, as well as possible fatigue from the summer, has reflected on his shooting numbers. 38% from the field and 29% from three. Yikes. But it’s his heart, not body, that matter, goddamit! He still has the best net rating of any starter and judging by the fact he’s leading the league in minutes, Coach Casey seems to realize this. We’ve already done the whole record-breaking regular season thing. Reduce the mans minutes please.
  5. Dwayne Casey’s got a flexible roster to work with. Last game, with Carmelo Anthony off, the options were on full display. First, it was Norman Powell’s pressure, quickness, and overall psychopathic fearlessness. Yet, he was too weak to withstand Melo’s bully ball style. There was a period of Siakham, but he made a couple mistakes. Ultimately, they settled on Patterson’s strength and size funnelling him into the long arms of Bebe. Demarre Carrol was resting. Remember when we had to live with whatever Terrence Ross and John Salmons gave us?
  6. Jonas Valanciunas in crunch time. For years I was frustrated with the lack of touches that JV got, especially at the end of games. Good or bad game, Casey would exclusively feature Lowry or Derozan in the important plays. Yet, with DD becoming Michael Jordan I know longer scream at my TV nor do I yearn for Valancuinas’s involvment. In fact, I’ve realized he’s kind of an awkward fit. His talent as a post scorer goes to waste. His weakness as a PNR defender gets exposed. I feel for him, but it just makes sense for him to ride the pine during crucial stretches.
  7. It looks like my prediction that Boston would have a better record than the Raptors was wrong. Injuries to Crowder and Horford have killed their win projection. Now it’s the Atlanta Hawks that have emerged as our competition for the second spot. They’ve maintained their elite defensive identity from last season and the Dwight Howard resurgence has resolved their rebounding problem. But I’d still pick the Dinos in a series. We can keep up on the boards, and while Dennis Schröder and Thabo Sefolosha are good defenders, Lowry and Derozan should be able to outplay them. The problem is that we’re still not beating Cleveland. Unless we get BOOGIE COUSINS!
  8. S/O to the Talking Raptors podcast for inspiring this idea. Terrence Ross now has two nicknames. The ability to select one caters to his inconsistent play. If he’s the poor defender, turnover prone, hesitation exuding mess on the floor, he is Terry. If he’s pulling up from deep, wetting shots off the PNR, getting steals in the passing lanes, and dumping off passes to the bigs down low, he is Trey Rozay.
  9. Patrick Patterson’s free throw mind games. Watch him the next time he’s on the floor and the other team is shooting two free throws. During the first free throw most players just face the sideline due to box out habits. Instead, Pat decides to just turn his body and stare at the opposing player that’s going through his free throw routine. He’s the only guy I’ve seen do this. I appreciate the gamesmanship.

Next post in 9 games. Thanks for reading and like if you like!