Things are trending positively: The Raptors hung tough last week with both Brooklyn and Chicago, and defeated the star-studded (if lost) Lakers to finish off the first half on Sunday. Still, it is hard to see the Raptors’ opening 41 games as anything but disappointing.
With 41 games in the books marking Toronto’s halfway point in this season, it’s time to take a look at the performance of each of Toronto’s fifteen roster players. Obviously grading these players causes imbalances because role, expectations and talent are not distributed evenly. Fairly or not, some players grade-out higher (or lower) because more (or less) was expected of them this year. Most float around the average, with a few peaks and valleys surrounding them on this list.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey said the biggest thing for his team now is finding consistency. He and shooting guard DeMar DeRozan both talked about games that the team should have won, but ended up giving away. From earlier games at the start of the season, to the blown call in Charlotte, and the more recent blunder by the officials against the Bulls, to the blown leads and the meltdown that occurred in Philadelphia last Friday night, it’s easy to see the team has played those losses over and over again in their minds.
Anderson’s comfort level extends beyond the position he plays. With Fields making solid contributions as the team’s small forward, and with the roster depth reduced by the injury absence of Mickael Pietrus (knees) and Linas Kleiza (knee), Anderson knows he’s the first wing off the bench most nights. NBA players are often creatures of habit, knowing he’ll be in the game about nine minutes into the first quarter affords Anderson a comfort level.
While it’s difficult to point to just one player as the main catalyst for the increased three-point production during the Raptors’ run, Alan Anderson’s return to the Raptors line-up from injury was huge. During the 13-game sample, Anderson averaged a team-high 2.3 made three-pointers on 6.1 attempts, 0.3 made three-pointers and 0.6 attempts above his season average. Anderson is the team’s leading three-point shooter this season in terms of shots made, with 2.0 made three-pointers per game and 2.8 made three-pointers per 36 minutes of action.
On the heels of the Raptors’ big victory over the “mighty” Lakers (can’t even say that with a straight face anymore), Drew, Oliver and I got together to discuss the W and to pretend Friday night in Philly never happened. We also touched on Landry Fields’ performance, Ed Davis’ lack of fourth quarter minutes and DeMar DeRozan’s recent slump.
So even while the team has somewhat rescued a season from disaster with 11 wins in its past 17 games including a confidence-building victory over the visiting Lakers on Sunday, the memory of those first 23 games remains a driving force. “We’re still fighting, still climbing,” guard DeMar DeRozan said. “Every opportunity we get to go out there and play against somebody is a desperate situation for us. It’s always a must-win and that’s our whole attitude.”
When you consider Gay largely plays with both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph (both top 25 in WS/48), it stands to reason they should have better metrics with him on the floor. Regularized adjusted plus-minus attempts to adjust for these impacts and, as noted above, Gay only ranks 142nd in the league.
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