The Atlantic division is a bit of paradox, as these two teams whose front offices are actively trying to be as close to last place as possible find themselves vying for the Atlantic division lead.

The Vasquez, Salmons, Hayes and Patterson era is set to start in Toronto tonight. Casey should have a full bench tonight, though I would be surprised to see more than a handful of minutes for any of the new faces as they continue to learn the defence. Toronto has been able to lose 4 of it’s last 5 games, but the 76ers are going to make it tough for the Raptors to make it 5 out of 6.

After an unfortunate string of early season wins, the 76ers have finally been finding ways to lose consistently. The best thing they’ve done in this pursuit is having promising rookie Michael Carter Williams sit out of the lineup with a sore knee caused by a skin infection (Gross!). In his absence, the 76ers offence has looked exactly like how an offence centred around Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Tony Wroten should look (Gross!).

The key match-ups of the game may not be names on the recently released all-star voting leaderboards, but they’re all among the league leaders in attempted ESPN NBA Trade Machine fake trades so far this season:

DeMar DeRozan vs. Evan Turner – As an NBA general manager, your spidey sense should be tingling whenever an opposing team is enthusiastically shopping their young, leading scorer. Both of these teams would be happy to sell high on their entertaining though inefficient scorers. If only Brooklyn and the Knicks had more first round draft picks to trade. Both Turner and DeRozan are averaging career highs in Usage, attempts and turnovers. While those stats are valuable to a team that is vying for the lottery, it makes it tough to get good value back in a trade. If only this were a league where fringe contenders mortgaged their future for playoff scoring help, GMs made panic trades to try and save their jobs and teams consistently overvalued ‘potential’…

Spencer Hawes vs. Jonas Valanciunas – Can we please not talk about how Spencer Hawes is having a much, much better season than Jonas Valanciunas? I would instead prefer to live in the hypothetical future, 4 years from now, where Jonas is a dominant two-way franchise centre with no foot-back-knee problems (the unholy trinity of big men beginning of the end chronic injuries) and Spencer Hawes has moved on to the over-paid, oft-traded and rarely played portion of his career known as “The Raef LaFrentz years.”

Thaddeus Young vs. Amir Johnson – Neither of these players are the stars or best players on their teams. While both players are largely appreciated in NBA circles, few would think it that big of a deal if either were to be traded. However, the fan bases of both these teams would lose their collective ish if they were to read about either player being dealt on twitter. The list of players that Raptors fans would be ok with trading Amir Johnson for is more or less the all-star game roster. That trade isn’t happening. Therefore, the Raptors fanbase responding rationally to an Amir Johnson trade also isn’t happening. I include myself in this diagnosis.

Kyle Lowry vs. The New York Knicks salary cap constraints and lack of 1st round draft picks – This matchup is likely to get as much talk throughout tonight’s game as any of the actual on-court ones, and it’s a tough one. I don’t doubt that the rumours are true, but the math and required number of additional teams is tough on this one. Is anybody in the league giving up 2013-2014 1st round picks? Well, aside from the dozen or so teams that have already traded them. Things that aren’t that fun: watching your team in full tank mode play against an even worse team whose best/most interesting player is out who is also in full tank mode. Things that are fun: fake Kyle Lowry trades. -plus Raptors get Detroit’s 1st round pick. -Raps get pick from Cavs, Cavs get pick from Lakers.

Barring John Salmons being given Rudy Gay’s minutes and isolations, the Raptors are unfortunately poised to jump another game ahead of the 76ers in the standings. Now is the part of the season where we await trades, watch development in Ross, Valanciunas, DeRozan’s 3 pointer, start developing a short-lived infatuation with Vasquez-Johnson pick and rolls and enjoy the final days of what has been some very stellar play from the soon to be departed Kyle Lowry. Tanking is NBA purgatory, but we get in to heaven afterwards, right…

  • desktom

    What a disgusting horse bleep article this was. Just give us the pertinent facts on game day. Your a bush league writer that’ insults every Toronto fan that wants this team to win on every night they take the floor. Toronto Expos is not the way to go. Tanking sucks and so does every writer or fan that throws it in the face of true Toronto Raptors fans. We are 1-1 since we traded that horse crap black hole ball stopping goof that thought he was to good to play team ball. Lets start off the articles with that . We are 1-1 in the post Gay era. Now lets make it 2-1.

    • Roarque

      There! You feel better now? Now, where were we?

      • desktom

        You were typing with your head up your ass hoping for the Raptors to lose, Toronto Expos … just lose baby just lose. Disgusting.

    • Withnail

      So you don’t want a good draft pick in the best draft since 2003? You sir, cannot see the forest for the tree’s. I usually don’t advocate tanking but this year is different and everyone knows it. If you’re happy just missing the playoffs or being first round fodder then ya go raps go, let’s win the games!!

      • Antoine Rose

        lol what will guarantee you we’ll get that pick man … even if we tank. We are not in a market where tanking should be thought of. If we thought it was hard getting players before wait till after the tank.

        • Withnail

          Why are we in a market where tanking should never be thought of?

          You say ‘that pick’. There are at least 6 maybe 7 guys in this draft who are potential franchise guys. This is a rarity. It’s a great chance for us to get another franchise player like Vince and put Toronto back on the NBA map.

          • rapierraptor

            Yeah I would say that there are 7 guys in this draft who have a very good chance of being better than any player on the Raptor’s current roster (sans Jonas): Wiggins, Parker, Randle, Exum, Smart, Embiid and Gordon.

            • Saskatoon Raps Fan

              I’d say all 7 of those guys could be better than Jonas.

              Keyword could. Shit happens and at least one or two probably wont live up to the hype, but they’ve all got just a much or more potential than Jonas IMO. Just depends on how the prospect develops, Jonas included.

              • rapierraptor

                I agree with you. At the same time I think because Jonas isn’t playing as well as we’d hoped SO FAR this season (subtract Rudy, add Greivis and subtract Casey and see how things change) and he isn’t as new and shiny as the guys listed that people are sleeping on him a bit.

            • Ho Tep

              Arrighht! Let’s get ready to pick eighth!

              • rapierraptor

                HAHA, so true!!

    • malefax

      y u mad?

    • rapierraptor

      Whew, sounds like you need to spend some time on a beach with some Jimmy Buffet and a drink in hand my friend.

    • Puzzles

      Please go carry your needless competitive spirit and misinformed, but nevertheless annoying, tantrum elsewhere. Come back in about a year or so, and see how the team has changed. Then we can join you in your competitive mindset and cheer this franchise on for the bright future. If this team starts winning, we aren’t going to ‘ditch’ the team…doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you get there. Besides, lets say we land a 5th or 6th seed by ‘playing hard’ or whatever. Can we really beat any team in a 7-game series, one that isn’t tanking like ourselves? Get real. Trades are going to happen, regardless of some self-proclaimed ‘die-hard’ fans such as yourselves. Let Masai do his thing. Besides, all coach Casey has to do now it play JV and TR for 35+ mins every game, letting them develop, while simultaneously making it very difficult for the Raptors to win.
      Look at the bigger picture. May serve you well in life as well.

      • desktom

        So lets get this straight, there is no possible way that we can trade for a top seven draft pick closer to the draft and win this season? I thought this Masai walk on water could pull this off. He has done two absolutely stellar deals . For a top seven draft pick everyone on the roster is up for trade plus our future #1 .There are many roads that lead to a championship, tanking is not one of them . Soul killing unsportsmanlike whore basketball is not the way to go. Rah Rah this mtfkr

        • Saskatoon Raps Fan

          Ya I’d trade anyone on this roster for a top 7 pick other than Jonas. Jonas I would trade for any of the top 6 (wiggins, Parker, randle, exum, smart, embiid.) but prolly not for the 7 or 8 (prolly Gordon and vonleh, I think they are about on Jonas’ level and a trade is pointless, I’d rather have jonas because he’s a center).

          Regardless, I’d rather lose this year and have our own pick in that top 7 or 8 range. I doubt any team in the top 6 is trading their pick. If Masai did pull that miracle off then hells ya we’d have 2 picks in that top range.

        • Puzzles

          I mentioned this before, ‘building through the draft’ is a euphemism for tanking. Go look at what OKC did. They had Ray Allen + Rashard Lewis at their prime and had a record of 50+ wins. Then they blew it up and what did they get? KD, RW and Ibaka.

          And who the hell would give up a high pick for any one on the Raptors with the exclusion of JV? We already established that DD is not a great defender, with low basketball IQ and is a scorer on a bad team. Lowry will be out of town in the near future, Amir is not worth that much. If you want to trade JV for a potential top pick, that would be giving away a player with high potential for another player with high potential. Why not rid ourselves of any assets that could help another team out, and improve our roster through the draft?

          I just cannot believe that there are still people who are against the idea of tanking, I mean, building through the draft. You seriously need to get out of your delusional la-la land, where endless years of mediocrity is celebrated. I want this team to be one that, when fans of any other teams look at their team’s schedule and sees that they will be facing the Raptors, they either go out and do something else because they know their team will lose, or tune in for a great match-up. Quite frankly, no matter how hard DD, JV, Amir, and the boys play, no one, except for us, really cares…

          And get real. Masai can’t walk on water, and I resent your tone, referring to him as ‘this’ Masai. ‘The Massaiah’, maybe.

          • desktom

            Soul killing loser tanking is for Milwaukee , this is Toronto , I lay everything at the feet of Casey for this years horrid start. We are better then he has coached. We need play offs this year . I was going for humor but you seem to think grammer is important. Tankers are such repulsive losers.

    • 2damkule

      i think you’d be happier just reading here:

      i know i wouldn’t mind.

  • thegloveinrapsuniform

    Is Lowry playing tonight?

    • GoingBig


      The Raptors have not reached any deal with anyone(as of this moment.) If there’s a deal involving World Metta Peace, that cannot go through until December 15, 2013 (trades allowed for signed free agents)

      The deals suggested so far all have been 1 or 2 pieces away from being complete. The Knicks don’t want to give up Hardaway / the Raps aren’t too keen on Felton blaah blaah blaah

    • StrikerAI

      Yeah, I suggest Casey sits him out to avoid an “injury” so Masai can keep looking for trades.

      • Saskatoon Raps Fan

        I was kind of thinking that for the sake of losing, but I also think every game Lowry plays from here on out, free from the blackhole that is rudy gay, will only raise his value so it’s kind of a give and take situation.

  • Bill

    Aww, ignore that poor humourless soul above. I found the article “horse bleep”ing hilarious! I loved the Kyle Lowry matchup and league leaders in attempted fake trades. Keep the laughs coming!

  • Dalil

    Why are we so strict with DD ?
    You see only the bas thing but start to see something else !:
    22pts 4reb 3ast on 44% and 38% at 3. I’m sorry but if you compare to the high hype player Kyrie Irving ( just an example ) DeRozan is the All Star. He is a top 10SG and we only see the bad things. In fact he has to progress in defense and passing but right now I’m sorry he is great and i don’t know why we are not talking about him as a MIP if we got 30+ wins.
    That’s the really feeling we have in France ! Have a good game everybody !
    RAPS !

    • 2damkule

      20.3 ppg 3.3 reb 5.8 asst on 47% and 44% at 3.

      mike james, 2005/6, toronto raptors.

      • Dalil

        And why are you show me this numbers which are pretty good ?

        • 2damkule

          precisely for that reason. look, i’m not arguing that DD isn’t an effective player, or that he’s not playing better than in past years (albeit marginally, and it’s still a SSS), simply that looking at stats may not be the best way to go about assigning a player’s value to his team. all games are at least 48 minutes long, and there are generally an equal-ish number of possessions by each team in a given game. when a team doesn’t have many offensive options, the majority of shots generally go to the best of whatever can be cobbled together into a lineup. basically, that’s a nice way of me saying that SOMEONE has to score the points. that’s what mike james did on that team; bosh was still young, the team was pretty horrible, and mike james had no reservations about firing away…and as you say, he put up really quite good numbers. but those numbers didn’t tell the story of who mike james was a player, they merely told the story of what happens when a team is really bad and doesn’t have many other viable offensive options.

          • Dalil

            Man i really agree of what you said. What i denounce is the problem that DD is very underrated. He is in a bad team ok ! But keep it in mind that he scores against the other team !
            In this East Conference right now DD is an All Star and there is no doubt about it

            • Tim W.

              Let’s look at your All Star assertion here. I agree that DeRozan has a chance, but that’s mainly due to the lack of talent at the guard position in the East, rather than how well DeRozan is playing. In the West, he wouldn’t even in the discussion.

              Let’s assume Dwane Wade and Kyrie Irving start, which is what the voting has them doing right now. That leaves three possible spots. You have to assume John Wall will take one of the spots, as he’s putting up great numbers and Washington is doing so well.

              That leaves two spots.

              DeRozan, Arron Afflalo, Michael Carter-Williams, Evan Turner, Brandon Jennings and Jeff Teague are all playing well enough to be considered.

              Afflalo is scoring more than DeRozan, doing it more efficiently and is a better defender. And Orlando has basically the same record as the Raptors and were predicted to be one of the worst teams in the league, this year.

              Carter-Williams is a because of how well he’s gotten Philadelphia to play (when he’s been in the lineup) and because he’s such a great story. Plus, he’s putting up great numbers.

              Turner is scoring a little less than DeRozan, but chips in with more rebounds, assists and much better defense, as well.

              Jennings is the leading scorer and assist maker on a likely playoff team. Generally, coaches will select guys from playoff teams over lottery teams. Jennings is 7th in assists.

              Teague is also on a playoff team (the third best team in the East) and is the Hawks second leading scorer and is tied with Jennings for 7th in assists.

              Here are their numbers:

              Personally, I probably pick Carter-Williams and Afflalo, but Jennings has a chance, as well. DeRozan is playing well, but not better than those guys.

              Normally, none of these guys should be considered an All Star, quite frankly, but this year they have to pick someone. An All Star selection at guard in the East is similar to when Jamaal Magloire was an All Star. Yes, he was an All Star, but I wouldn’t say he actually deserved it.

              • rapierraptor

                Afflalo’s play this year deserves all-star consideration even in a non-down year.

              • Louvens Remy

                Man, you got to stop shitting on DD like he’s one of the worst players you’ve ever seen. Aron Afflalo is having a career year. Naturally he’s been a pretty good shooter and defensive player but it took into his 8th year in the league to put it all together. Evan Turner, looked like a potential bust and just turned the corner this year, his fourth. You seem to forget what he looked like last year. Sure those guys are a bit better on the defensive end and passing, but DD is in their league as a player. None of those guys are leaps and bounds better than DD.

                He is not that bad. Just let the kid play out and grow. Reminds me of what people were saying about Lamarcus Aldridge, or Gerald Wallace, or even Amir their first few years in the league. They grew, they got better and developed into better players than what people expected. I am not ready to give up on him just yet.

                • Tim W.

                  I’m not suggesting that Afflalo an Turner are leaps and bounds better than DeRozan. I am saying they are all in the same conversation, and I would doubt many Raptor fans would consider Afflalo or Turner an elite scorer.

                  I’m also not sure about the Amir or Wallace comparisons. Neither of those guys got much playing time early, but were very productive when they got on the court.

                  As for Aldridge, he’s always been much better than DeRozan is right now.

              • Louvens Remy

                If you are going to play the “in the west it wouldn’t even be a discussion” you can play it for Afflalo, Jennings, Teague, Turner, MCW, probably even Kyrie too. We get it, you think DD sucks and is inefficient, bad at everything and has a low BBall IQ.

                • Tim W.

                  No, as I’ve said multiple times, I don’t think DeRozan is a bad player. I will say it again. DeRozan is not a bad player and he’s actually a pretty good one. My criticism of him is in response to those who seem to think he’s a great player or someone who should be a core player on a contender, which I disagree with.

                  And I was referring to those other players as well when I talked about the poor Eastern Conference guards, which is why I said this:

                  “Normally, none of these guys should be considered an All Star”

                  Hard to make that any more clear.

                • Louvens Remy

                  Fine. Redacted. Missed that.

              • GoingBig

                He is an All-Star **wink-wink** None finer! **wink-wink** I’m quite surprised he’s not mentioned on the All-star ballots **wink-wink**

                We need some suckers to pony up good trade offers – besides the Knicks

  • Andrey

    A lot of Raptors’ fans are catching feeling this season. Guys if people cheer for Raptors that won’t make them win games.

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  • Hassan Mehmood Khan

    I want lowry derozan gone if this is going to be a true tank , this draft is pure gold we need at least 2 picks in the lottery

  • golden

    This will shock most of you. It did me.

    Derozan is not inefficient on offense this season. In fact only Lebron, Durant, George, Love, Curry, Aldridge, Harden, Dirk, Melo, Lopez and Parker rank ahead of DD when using the ORTG/USG criteria of: USG >= 26%, ORTG >= 107. That is offensive production on the cusp of elite.

    • golden

      Here’s the link from BBREF.

    • StrikerAI

      I’m not shocked, he is a good scorer, but the problem is he can’t do anything else other than scoring, he is not a good rebounder, he is not a good playmaker and he isn’t a good defender.

      • golden

        All true, but unlike previous seasons, there is no question that DD is a net positive in contributing to wins. Similar to Brook Lopez and Dirk, who don’t do a whole lot more than score, but do it at a high enough level to be a major impact, in terms of winning.

        • StrikerAI

          True, but Dirk is much better at what he does than Derozan. I’m not against keeping Derozan if we can cover up his problems, like Chandler did with Dirk, but he still isn’t a franchise player in my eyes.

    • Tim W.

      Nice, but I’m not sure that is really the best way of calculating how efficient a scorer someone is. The offensive rating of a player is really only valid when comparing one player to another on his own team.

      He’s not as inefficient as he has been, but he’s also not one of the more efficient scorers in the league, either.

      • golden

        At that USG rate (and higher), Derozan actually IS one of the most efficient scorers in the league. And that USG rate is usually reserved for elite scorers. The leap forward he has made this year is impressive.

  • Bryan Colangelo

    Can two teams just forfeit a game in the NBA? Because if they could I definitely would have done that as the former GM.

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