Kyle Lowry’s injury scare reminds us that the season could fall to pieces.

Preseason has a funny way about itself. It looks like the real thing, it sounds like the real thing and if we suspend our disbelief just enough, it even feels like the same thing. In our heart of hearts we know it’s fake, a mirage, a cheap dalliance, but either way you cut it 6-1 is a good thing. We’re excited, and we damn right should be.

Just for the fun of it, let’s go through all the positives from this preseason:

  • Derozan’s post-game
  • Landry Fields returning to form
  • Rudy Gay’s shooting percentages
  • Terrence Ross’ occasional hot spurts
  • Kyle Lowry’s fitness and effectiveness

That last point about Kyle Lowry excites me the most (and no it’s not just because I own him in several fantasy leagues). Our roster, outside of Lowry, is an expensive race car.

Demar and Rudy are the wheels, propelling us forward and shouldering the scoring load. Jonas Valanciunas is the engine, tirelessly working for the betterment of the team. Amir is the fuel, and not just any “regular” that sells for exorbitant prices at your local gas station, no he’s rocket fuel, ready to push the team as fast (and as far) as it wants to go.

But this race car needs a driver, and that driver is Kyle Lowry. He’s the guy who has his hands on the steering wheel and his feet on the pedals. He dictates how fast or how slow the team will play, he dictates who gets the ball, and most importantly, he dictates where this team will end up.

This is why the news about Kyle Lowry’s finger injury got me panicking. By all accounts he’ll be fine and he wont be missing any games, but it served as a wake-up call to Raptors fans that this race car could very well be stuck in the driveway if anything were to happen. If Lowry were to go down, his replacements would turn the Toronto Raptors into re-runs of “Canada’s Worst Driver”.

But realistically, the same can be said about any of the starters. Will we really go anywhere if we’re missing a wheel? We definitely can’t reach our maximum speed if we filled the car up with regular oil (sorry Tyler). And if the engine went down? Sheeeeiiiitt, the coaching staff would have to get out and push.

That’s the reality of the situation. The success of the season is contingent on the health and productivity of every single starter because there is absolutely no depth on the roster. The 2013/14 Toronto Raptors are the 2012/13 Portland Trail Blazers. If Jonas goes down, Aaron Gray gets pressed into regular minutes as the third big while Amir has to once again courageously fill in at center. If Amir goes down, Tyler Hansbrough jumps into the starting lineup and he kills the flow of the offense with his aversion to passing. If Derozan goes down, Rudy gets pressed into having to shoot more, and vice-versa for a potential Gay injury. Finally, and perhaps most horrifically, if Kyle Lowry went down, DJ Augustin would be the de facto starting point guard. You might know him as this guy:

Some teams insulate themselves from injury by acquiring more quality players (see: Indiana this offseason). Some teams are simply immune to injury because they have players who can expand their roles (see Miami without anyone other than Lebron). Should one or two injuries occur, they can withstand the loss and carry on with nary a slight drop-off in production and win-totals.

This Raptors team do not have depth, nor do we have players who can reasonably expand their roles without seeing a serious drop-off in production. If one of our starters were to go down, we’d be in serious trouble.

So…fingers crossed whenever you see Kyle Lowry fight for an offensive rebound with the big boys, or whenever Amir dives into the stands for a loose ball because an injury could very well be the difference between the playoffs and NBA no-man’s land.

Keep calm and carry on.

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  • DDD

    hope for the best.

    • DDON

      I don’t think Lowry is the key to this teams success. And as backups Buycks, Augustin and Stone all have different strength and weaknesses but so does Lowry. And I don’t think that the bench is as weak as some say. Hansbrough and Acey are looking good and if Fields and Ross can become consistent that is a damn good bench. And Daye and Novak can be very dangerous!

      • Omar

        No, daye is useless IMO because he plays too much at the 4. But I agree, this bench is still an upgrade for last year. No more bargs, Lucas, Anderson :))))))))))))

      • The problem with the bench is we have a bunch of role players and no real go-to guy. Ross could become that guy in a couple of years but as of right now he’s way too inconsistent, same as Landry Fields. Hansbrough and Acy are hustle guys, don’t expect them to create anything .. and my expectations are low for the three back up PG’s, although Stone has some potential. Novak will hit open shots but can the bench create for him? As for Daye, I don’t see him contributing any meaningful minutes.

  • Rick d

    They need to play Quincy at the 4 or 3 with Tyler Ross and fields more often he keeps that defensive intensity with Tyler going. Plus he’s worked hard with that mid range jumper. If Ross doesn’t get it going. Then fields should play the 2 and slot in acy at 3 along with Novak and Tyler!

  • Thimble

    I don’t see temporarily losing either DD or Gay to injury to be a huge problem as I think that would mean more scoring opportunities for JV, which is a good thing. Losing JV would be quite bad, especially against mobile centres that are difficult for Gray to handle.

    Trading Lowry seems like Ujiri’s ace up the sleeve if he thinks it worthwhile to switch to Tank Mode. Lowry’s contract is expiring anyway, so no one will claim that Ujiri is trading away the team’s future. I don’t see how the Raptors could do well against the better PGs in the league without Lowry.

  • youngjames

    I totally agree – I’m hoping the starters tonight see very little minutes if any at all. It’s not like they need this EIGHTH game of exhibition play in order to be ready for next week – they’re ready now! Let the others play tonight, then lets hope for the best during the season. But, there are always injuries…always – just hope its not to key guys.

    • Nilanka15

      We’ll probably see the starters play more tonight than any other preseason game so far.

      • youngjames

        I know – but I wish they wouldn’t!
        I don’t see the point of playing them tonight at all. I feel other’s like Fields, Ross, DJA, Buycks, Acy, Grey, Daye could benefit from the extra play

        • Nilanka15

          I’m actually OK with the regular rotation tonight. I’d prefer not to see Buycks, Acy, Grey or Daye play at all for the remainder of the season, lol.

        • Nilanka15

          Check that. Lowry and Jonas out tonight cuz of their bumps and bruises. You may get your wish after all 😉

  • Casey Sherman

    Airtight analogy William. Speaking of air, how about the air in our tires, Quincy Acy? Surely we can’t go forward without his pump-up celebrations from the bench

    • DDayLewis

      I forgot to mention that Aaron Gray is the broken spare tire in the trunk

      • Casey Sherman

        If JV is the engine, I think Air Gray is one of those jet packs fuelled with farts

  • Paul

    Yes Lowry is the key to a mediocre season. Here’s hoping for an injury.

    • Casey Sherman

      Wow dude. Real classy

  • Jimi

    You lost me at hello:

    “Kyle Lowry’s injury scare reminds us that the season could fall to pieces.”

    This team is, at the very best, a six seed that will get trounced in the the first round. In terms of what this team can do, the season has fallen to pieces before it’s even started, unless mediocrity’s your thing. Unfortunately, given the disparity between the upper tier teams and everyone else, this is life as an NBA fan.

    For this season to truly go to pieces, a certain player I don’t even want to name would have to miss a significant amount games.

  • steve fisher

    Yes KL is a very key part of the starting unit. Many writers tend to talk in extremes. There is more depth and talent on this Raptor team than any in several years. We now have TWO backup PGs which we have not had in a long time! Yes they are gaining their sealegs which I commend Casey for giving them more playing time than I can remember in X games because his priorities are correct! He puts skill development ahead of wins Before the season. With each outing they went through ever shorter rough patches. In most games they not only showed steady improvement but were not yanked out when they messed up but after falling behind by around 10 pts they fought back, took the team to a 5-10 pt VICTORY! This bodes well for the future and many fans are quite encouraged.

    • I haven’t followed the preseason very closely, but isn’t this true? From
      looking over box scores, it looked to me like the so-called second-unit
      combinations tended to pull of the pre-season wins for the Raps, often
      with opposing starters staying on the court far longer than our own
      starters. What’s the problem?