The ultra-competitive All-Star game is set to take place Sunday night, with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry representing the Toronto Raptors. As exciting as that is by itself, the Raptors really aren’t being recognized enough at all-star weekend based on their success so far this season. Rising Stars Challenge anyone? So instead of writing another strongly-worded letter of recommendation that heart be measured as a quantifiable stat in order to get Fred VanVleet into the Rising Stars game…I’ve decided to reward the Raptors with their very own All-Star contest.
That’s right, with the help of a faithful but blind Raptors fan friend, I’m splitting up the squad and pitting them against one another in the hypothetical game you’ve all been waiting for. With the team doing this well, why not have some fun before the nail-biting playoff push descends upon us? Let’s go.
For the sake of the argument we chose a 14-man roster listed in alphabetical order:
We then decided that each team needed a captain to make sure our NBA All-Star game was up to snuff. The obvious and deserving choices are DeRozan and Lowry. I offered delusional Raptors fan Ben his choice: Pick your captain, or take the first pick. Ben went DeMar. Let the game begin.
Cam (Team Kyle)
This was tougher than I thought it would be. While JV might not be the third best basketball player on the Raptors, he certainly has been lately and I love recency bias. In his last ten games (including a two point effort against Boston) the Lithuanian Lightning has everaged 16.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough he’s also making 1.2 from deep on 2 attempts per! Death, Taxes and JV from three!
Ben (Team DeMar)
Awesome, I will combat that with a slumping Serge who will help spread the floor for the somewhat spotty shooting DeMar. Uh…that’s great and all Ben, but over his last ten Serge has made the exact same number of threes per game as JV…on 1.5 more attempts. I’m not great at math, but that math isn’t great.
I’ll see your Serge and raise you OG. I know, it’s an All-Star game, “no one plays defence”, but if you don’t think OG isn’t going inspector-gadget with his arms on the perimeter to contain every last one of your dudes you’re mistaken. OG LIVES FOR THIS.
Continuing the emphasis on shooting, taking into account DeMar’s less than reliable three, we look to the Raptors streaky bench and CJ Miles, with OG likely locking up DeMar I like my chances of getting CJ open for some corner looks. This was a tough choice between CJ and Norm, but with one simply outplaying the other right we’re taking the hot hand. I like how you’ve started to refer to yourself as “We” like there’s some giant braintrust in your back office helping you make these decisions. That shows dedication.
A tough choice between Norm and CJ with my boy FVV sitting right there? This is an insult to anyone who has ever had a dream of playing in the NBA. You can’t measure grit, but if you could Fred VanVleet would lead the NBA. Outside of Kyle my team can’t exactly make it rain from three…so add FVV to the mix!
Hook, line and sinker. It truly is a beautiful thing when the prey falls right into your trap – leaving the long, lanky Delon Wright right in my lap. While the initial thought process here was to simply let the best player on the team, Demar Derozan, man the point, we can now let Delon take over and simply outsize Kyle’s back-court. With size and shooting now secured, we can let the 3 ball fly – hand up or not.
You dangled the choice of Norm and CJ in my face only to leave Powell out in the cold. That’s ruthless, but the correct choice and I applaud you for knowing more than you let on when we started this. With my shooting taken care of and a big man inside it only makes sense to search out some freak athleticism. Give me Siakam all day. Can’t you picture him now, running the whole court in three steps with a smile on his face dunking all over your ill-conceived team? Ah beautiful.
This is where the choosing second really starts to leave a bitter taste in your mouth. The initial elation of thoughts of Demar backing Kyle into the low post for his patented 16 foot turnaround has now been parried with a tough choice of how to play my cards. While the initial thought was to dig into SVG’s 09 bag of tricks in selecting Noguiera to let the big hustle for boards as we rain down three’s reminiscent of Rashard Lewis and Hedo “Ball” Turkoglu, we instead decide to follow the pace of a leading NBA team and employ a run and gun type offence. Piano-finger Norm Powell is the choice here, Allowing us to rain down threes at a Rocket/ D’Antoni-like pace that I don’t think the other squad can keep up with. Sure we may get sliced and diced like sushi-grade Tuna, but when you put up these type of offensive numbers who cares.
I don’t know what “piano fingers” are, or if sushi-grade Tuna gets diced but I do know that Powell isn’t raining down any threes any time soon. He’s averaging 0.7 made bombs over his last ten games on 36 percent shooting. The best news about your pick may be that you let Yak-Attack join my squad of hard-working grinders. I now have JV, Siakam and Poeltl manning the inside which gives me all sorts of help off the bench. Your team is TINY!
DeMar better have the game of his life because picking second here is turning out to be a real b##ch. I’m going off the board here whether you like it or not and forgoing the obvious choice of Lorenzo Brown to call up Malachi Richardson in a spot-start. If the ghost of Bruno still lives anywhere it’s in the fingertips of the newest Raptor and I can already see him putting up some obscure stat line that lifts my team to the inaugural inter-league All-Star Game.
You circumventing the rules, calling yourself “we” and demanding you get the first pick hasn’t seemed to help your team at all and you’ve left me with Brown who has actually played meaningful minutes in an NBA game a few times this season. Silly boy, this thing is a cakewalk.
I guess that leaves me with Malcolm Miller. Here’s a video of one of the most graceful dunks I’ve ever seen to validate this pick.
Cam (Team Kyle)
Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl, Lorenzo Brown
Ben (Team DeMar)
DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, CJ Miles, Delon Wright, Norman Powell, Malachi Richardson
Who you got?!