Dear Santa…Raptors Edition

I was probably 7 years old when my brother first ruined the concept of Santa for me.  I’m not sure I ever really believed in him, but the gifts kept coming each year and the cookies were eaten, but my brother came up with a plan to prove to me that Santa wasn’t real (I really hope I’m not crushing anyone with this piece of news…).

We planned it perfectly, and prepared a fancy dessert to leave Santa.  The only catch, we put a massive pile of cayenne pepper under the whipped cream.

Sneaking out of our bedrooms and waiting at the top of the stairs, we arrived just in time to see my Dad frantically running through the house to spit out Santa’s dessert.  And that was how Santa died…

And yet, here I am to ask Santa for some things on behalf of the Raptors…because I’m greedy and want nice things.

Terrence Ross: Focus

Ross drives me nuts.  He has all the tools needed to be an impact player, and yet can only put it together for small stretches in individual games.  He dominates for a moment, only to space out the very next.  How on earth does this happen?

The only explanation is focus.  Does his mind wander to his next PlayStation battle?  Is he thinking during games about what insults to use towards children on social media?  Or does he simply forget where he is for short moments?

Please Santa, just bring TJ Ross some focus for Christmas…

James Johnson: A Mood Boost

Johnson’s mood has been up and down this season, and bottomed out with the little known mood of “underutilized”, but when he has been on the court the Raptors have generally been better than without him.  He has had an impact on both sides of the ball and has helped to mitigate the loss of DeMarre Carroll.  His minute increase of late is simply due to the loss of Valanciunas and Carroll to injury, and my fear is that his minutes will be the first ones cut when the team is finally healthy.

With the third best net rating on the roster, the highest assist ratio on the team outside of the point guard rotation, and the second best true shooting percentage on the roster (62.4 percent), Johnson has managed to impact the game in a variety of ways.

If Casey can’t help him with his mood, hopefully Santa can utilize him.

Norman Powell: A Three Point Shot

Norman was a monster in his recent two game stint with the Raptors 905s, averaging 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.  His athleticism is something to marvel at, and his speed in the open court is jaw dropping.  He has a good feel for the game and can guard three positions on the floor.  It he had a three point shot he would be steeling minutes from TJ Ross.

Instead, he is shooting 16.7 percent from three during his time in the NBA, and 20 percent from three over his two game stretch in the D-League.

With the Raptors shortage of floor spacing, Powell isn’t a viable option for the Raptors at this time.  They need Powell to at least be a threat on the perimeter, otherwise their spacing issues will just be magnified even further.

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan: Rest

Our top two players are each averaging over 36 minutes per game (although Lowry dipped to 35.6 minutes per game after last night’s ejection), in large part due to the Raptors’ inability to blow out weaker competition.  Far too many minutes to sustain their level of play for an entire season, at least one would assume.

If the Raptors are going to make an impact in the playoffs this year, they will need both DeRozan and Lowry to be at the top of their games.  In fact, with the way the Eastern Conference is looking right now, they may need to be at the top of their game all season.

Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll: Health

Missing two starters is significant; missing two starters when your bench is full of unprepared youth is a huge thing.  The Raptors are far from a deep team and are now working with a shortened rotation.

Thankfully, going by the initial timeline, Valanciunas should be available to return to the floor shortly into the New Year.  And according to reports, Carroll will be seeing a Doctor today for an update/evaluation on his injured knee.  The healthy return of these two will hopefully mean rest for Kyle and DeMar, and a team with moderate depth for the long haul of the season.

This may be the biggest wish of all…

Sure, Santa’s not real, but let’s hope some of these gifts still arrive in Toronto.

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