Mid-Season Awards for Your Toronto Raptors

No, you’re a gimmick!

Now that we’re slightly past the halfway mark of the season, it’s time for me to hand out some super imaginary mid-season awards because I’ve run out of ideas to fill a column it totally matters. Here be my ballot for some real and semi-real awards — I’ve got everything from the MVP trophy to the “skinniest player award” (hint: Daye wins it by a narrow margin, har har har). It should be…fun?

Most Improved Player Award

Winner: Terrence Ross, Runner up: Demar Derozan

I’m with J.E Skeets on this one — MIP should be changed to RIP, because this award means almost nothing. Should it be given to an established player who has suddenly upped his game (ie: Bobby Simmons, lol remember him?), or should it go to a young player taking the leap (ie: Kevin Love)? The voting criteria seems to change every year.

Anywho, Terrence Ross wins the award in a landslide. Ross’ transformation from disappointing rookie to surprising sophomore has been one of the brightest (and oft-underlooked) stories of the season. He’s taken on an increased role (17 to 25 minutes per game), and he’s flourished, especially since the Gay trade. He’s managed to virtually increase his per-minute production across the board, and more impressively, his shooting percentages have all increased, most notably from deep, where he’s upped his 3FG% from 34% to 41%. He’s showing signs of developing into a pesky defender and he still has more athleticism than the entire RR staff combined (that’s not saying much, really). Oh, and he dropped 51 points on 29 shots last week. Not bad, eh?

Derozan deserves some love for the award as well. He’s improved his playmaking (averaging a career high 3.6 assists per game), and he’s managed to hold his production constant while becoming the undisputed focus of opposing defenses. He’s still not very efficient (51.7 TS% is not good), but he’s managed to show enough this season to garner significant all-star buzz for the first time in his career (pay no attention to the lack of starpower in the East…)

Least Horrible Back-up Point Guard (The Ben Uzoh Award)

Winner: Opposing Point Guards, Runner Up: LCBO sales

Can we take a second to marvel at the barren wasteland that is the back-up point guard position? Through half a season, we’ve seen the likes of DJ Augustin, Julyan Stone, Dwight Buycks and Gravy Vasquez sub in for Lowry, which physically hurts my soul (yes, it does make sense). Their PER rating reads like the first few digits of the Fibonacci sequence at 1.4, 7, 10.7 and 11.9 respectively. What is this — an episode of “Who he play for?” Here TNT, I have a new game for you, it’s called “Why he play for?” and the answer to every question is drinking. Alone. Whilst weeping silently. My drink of choice:

Defensive Player of the Half-Year

Winner: Amir Johnson, Runner Up: Chuck Hayes’ “Shane Battier-inspired ‘hand-in-face’ technique”

Defensive contributions are always tough to quantify, but my vote for DPOY goes to Amir Johnson. First off, he’s the proverbial backbone of the defense. Jonas anchors the paint, and Lowry spearheads the attack on the perimeter, but Amir Johnson handles everything in between. He’s always covering for others in help scenarios and he’s done an excellent job defending the pick and roll, where he ranks 23rd in the NBA at points allowed per pick-and-roll man. He’s also limited opponents to under 46.8% shooting at the rim and he leads the team with 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes. This last stretch of lackluster play notwithstanding, Amir has been the Raptors’ best defender, as he has been for multiple seasons.

Runner up goes to this defensive sequence by Chuck Hayes. The man is 6’6 and he can barely jump, but somehow he’s a great post-defender. This is why:

Honorable mentions goes out to Ross’ defense on Paul George in the win over Indiana (5/14 shooting, 6 TO) and to KLOE, who probably could have won DPOY had I not been saving his praise for another award below.

Best Quote Award (The Hedo Award)

Winner: Demar Derozan, Runner Up: Demar Democritus

Nobody has ever confused Demar for a poet, but these two quotes are fantastic:

“You can sink and drown, or you can stay afloat. And we’re out here like Michael Phelps.” — Demar, on the post-Gay Raptors

“You’ve got to look at it like a woman is a woman at the end of the day, that’s how you’ve got to look at it” — Demar, presumably not to his fiance

Awesome. Shout-out to Jonas’ “Tonight, I don’t understand English” line from after the Nets game.

Sixth Man of the Year

Winner: 2Pat, Runner Up: Tyler Hansbrough

This one really wasn’t all that close. Hansbrough was holding it down before he got injured — gobbling up rebounds, barreling into people, playing solid defense — but 2Pat and his silky smooth jumper has been nothing short of a revelation. When was the last time we had a big-man who could consistently stretch it out the midrange and beyond — Bosh? Patterson has been huge on both ends of the floor, providing surprisingly effective defense while consistently contributing on offense. He’s performed so well that some fans are now calling for him to replace fan-favorite Amir Johnson in the starting lineup, which seemed unfathomable at the time of the trade.

As an aside — what price would you pay to retain 2Pat? I looked at his game two weeks ago and pegged his value at 12 million over three seasons, but let me know what you think in the comments.

Best Facial Hair Award (The Blake Murphy Award)

Winner: Tyler Hansbrough, Runner Up: Steve Novak

I had this whole section written up prior to last night’s contest, and then Hansbrough goes and does this:

hansbrough what

The best part? Hansbrough’s other sideburn only goes halfway down his ear, so…Hansbrough wins in a landslide. This photo of Steve Novak from Movember the darkest time-line deserves some love as well.

facial hair steve

Most Valuable Player

Winner: Kyle Lowry, Runner Up: Demar Derozan

I’ve already stepped to the plate three cracks at waxing poetic over KLOE, so here’s my shot at completing the cycle with this latest mini-installment.

The NBA All-Star reserves will be announced this evening on TNT’s Inside the NBA at 7 PM EST, and in all likelihood, one of either Derozan or Lowry (maybe both?) will head to New Orleans as the Raptors’ first All-Star since Chris Bosh in 2010.

On the surface, Derozan looks like the odds on favorite. He averages more points per game, plays more minutes and he’s Casey’s main weapon of choice on offense. Opposing coaches write “DEMAR DEROZAN” in big block letters on their whiteboards and they smoother his “X” with more “O”‘s than a bowl of Cheerios (I know that’s backwards, I’m trying to force an analogy here). Derozan is dangerous and opposing coaches know it, which is why they spend precious seconds in timeouts and halftime reviewing their defensive strategies for Demar (hint: ICE him in PnR, take away driving lane, allow him to shoot midrange). They know his name.

But when it comes to Lowry, they curse his name because he is a different animal, one that you literally cannot plan for.

How do you game-plan for his on-ball defense? How do you game-plan for a 6’0 guard crashing the offensive board? How do you game-plan for a guy who can both score, and create in the pick-and-roll? How do you game-plan for him spotting up from the wing when his man is the help-defender on a Derozan drive? How do you close hard on his threes when he’s crafty enough to pump-fake and draw the foul? How do you game-plan for a guard who plays at 100 MPH, yet rarely turns the ball over? How do you game-plan for him firing up his squad with a huge steal or a tide-turning three?

The answer is that you can’t, and that’s why he gives the opposing coaches headaches. Derozan is a known known — you know he’ll do something, and you know what that something is, but Lowry is a known unknown — you know he’ll do something, but what is it going to be?

On most nights, Lowry brings it on offense, carving up opposing defenses and hitting Derozan and Ross for spot-ups, and almost every night he’ll bring it on defense, but he’s like Neapolitan ice-cream — he’s got different flavors. He can score, and score efficiently, he can attack the hoop, he can get to the line, he can spot-up, he can operate in the pick-and-roll, he can pass, he can rebound, he can play defense, he can grab steals and from time to time, he can single-handed sink the confidence of an entire team, like he did in the first quarter against the Magic when he sunk five three-pointers. You can hog the chocolate, but Lowry will still give you strawberry and vanilla. Either way, the Raptors are feasting on ice-cream, which is…a good thing?

And that’s why Lowry is this half-season’s MVP. So the next time your buddies ask you “Why did Lowry make the All-Star team over Derozan?”, tell them it’s because he’s a known unknown and because he’s three-flavored ice-cream. If they don’t understand that, they’re not worth your time anyway.


Raptors Republic Article of the Half-Year Award (The Nepotism Award)

Winner: Blake “Only-Murphy-Who-Doesn’t-Like-Potatoes” Murphy, for “Inside the Toronto Raptors Thanksgiving Dinner“, Runner Up: Zarar “Arsenal-Sucks” Siddiqi for “Raptors MCMXII, Bucks IX/YOLO Reaction

Missed your ab-workout yesterday? Of course you did, you’re reading a basketball blog. Read those two articles for a giggle-workout that’s sure to give you ripped abs like yours truly (hint: my abs are neither “ripped”, nor “abs”). Here’s a taste:

“Once played a game of FIFA with God, he was Sheffield Wednesday, God was Bayern Munich. Won 10-0.” — Zarar, on Patrick Patterson

“DeRozan: Can we open a window to let the smoke out?

Casey: I don’t want any animals wandering in.

DeRozan: Don’t you use any screens?

*Casey looks confused by the question.*” — Blake, on his attempt at humor

Here ends my “rabbit hole-ish” awards column. I’d just like to take this moment to sincerely thank everyone here at RR — Zarar, Sam, Blake, Tim W, Garrett, the Talking Raps crew, PhD Steve and his world-wide roundtable, Tamberlyn, Nils/Doc — and to all of you readers for putting up with my strange tangents and — overuse — of dashes.

Zarar and Blake brought me out of the blogging wilderness last September and I’ve gone from writing 1500-word “JonasBasket” recaps, to writing 1000 word Raptors recaps, which in my opinion is a far better “started from the bottom, and now we’re here” than Drake’s “Shoppers-to-Showstopper” ascension, but I might be just a tad biased. I’ve written drunk, hungover, sober, happy, sad, jubilant and exhausted, and I want to sincerely thank you for accompanying me in this little corner of the internet. Win or lose, here we stand.


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