In Part I of this post, I discussed the theory of tanking, and where I stood. Now let’s consider the one player on the Toronto Raptors who can swing the team’s decision on whether or not to flush the season, decimate the roster, and rebuild.
Enough mystery – the player is swingman Terrence Ross. Of all the starters, he is the one player whose ceiling has yet to be established. TR has been starting since the trade of Rudy Gay to Sacramento 8 games ago. The Raps are 5-3 since his promotion, including improbable victories in Dallas and Oklahoma City. TR has averaged over 13 PPG [Points Per Game] in this stretch, with a low of 5 and a high of 24. In short, while the TR-as-starter experiment has been a success, his game stats have been wildly inconsistent. This is not surprising for a young player suddenly thrust into a major role, as both he and his teammates are learning about each other.
Now let’s glance at DeMar DeRozan, the default “go-to” guy in the Raps’ offense following Rudy’s abrupt departure. In the same 8 games, DD has averaged over 20 PPG, with a low of 13 and a high of 30. Even his bad game (13) hardly qualifies as a disaster; he’s a reliable scorer. Jonas Valanciunas – 13.75 PPG (low of 5, high of 18; 7 of 8 games in double-digits).
I can do the same with the rest of the starters, but you get the picture. TR has more upside than anyone. For my money, if TR can bump his post-promotion average to 16, Toronto will win its share of games. The Raps have been outscored by their opponents by an infinitesimal one-tenth of a point per game this season, meaning our record should be better than it is. A couple of extra TR 3-balls per game will be huge.
If TR’s performance slips, there’s not much of a Plan B. Who’s going to step in – Landry Fields? The Sac-to guys are veteran and very welcome rotation players, not keystones to a future championship. My advice to Masai Ujiri: make no decision until the Raps finish a nasty 5-games-in-7-nights week on January 25. If the new year has brought victories, stay the course. The team will be playoff-bound, and you can’t break faith with the players and their fans. Otherwise, there’s enough time before the trade deadline of February 12 to move some assets and look forward to the Draft Lottery.
Over to you, Rapture Nation. In particular, I’d enjoy hearing from the “Tank for Wiggins” gang. Please add your Comments.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.
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