5 more Raptor story lines this season

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 3: DeMar DeRozan /

Here are 5 story lines of particular interest to Raptors fans.


DeMar DeRozan’s numbers

DeMar DeRozan is currently averaging career highs in three point percentage (36.8), three point attempts per game (3.2) and three point makes per game (1.2). He is doing all this while posting the second highest scoring average of his career (25.2) and the highest assist per game average as well (5.0). In the last 11 calendar days DeRozan is a combined 26 of 49 for an astounding 53 percent from deep. DeMar appears to have turned himself into a truly complete basketball player (from an offensive stand point anyway) and the Raptors are reaping the benefits of this new found efficiency in the form of wins.

Currently sitting second in the east with 27 wins and 10 losses, Toronto is 2.5 games back of the Celtics (32-10) for top spot in the conference. If DeMar can continue his hot stroke from deep then Toronto may have a realistic shot at grabbing the top spot from Boston come playoff time.

[Editor’s Note: all data as of noon, January 8, 2018]

CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 03: Delon Wright
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 03: Delon Wright /

The Bench Mob Rolls on/Player Development

Going into the season the Toronto Raptors bench was a source of concern. Viewed mainly as inexperienced players, they have received sufficient time to improve and are playing up to their potential as a result. Delon Wright, recently back from a second shoulder injury, is the latest member of the bench unit to stand out with career highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds on 10 of 15 shooting and 4 of 5 from deep in a recent win against the Bulls. With players like Delon, Norman Powell, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakim and more laying in wait, the Raptors second unit continues to be one of the best in the league this year.

Swing-Swing, The Raptors new offence

When I think about the Raptors offence this season The Glen Miller Band’s “In The Mood” immediately starts playing in my head. Its like watching a whole new team out there this year. They are almost unrecognizable as the same players. They’ve improved their assist per game averages as a team from 18.5 in 2016-2017 to 22.9 this season. They’ve improved their three point attempts from 24.3 to 32.1 and their makes from 8.8 to 11.3 per game. Toronto has diversified its attack and kept opposing defenses guessing about where the next shot is coming from. The Raptors have managed to morph themselves into an offence of the future. If they  continue to improve, they could be more than a “dark horse” contender in the East.

PHOENIX, AZ – DECEMBER 13: Jonas Valanciunas
PHOENIX, AZ – DECEMBER 13: Jonas Valanciunas /

Who is going to get traded this year?

During the 2017 summer all the buzz was about the Raptors shopping Jonas Valanciunas ahead of the draft. Since signing a 42 million dollar extension with the Raptors, Norman Powell has struggled in seemingly every way this season. Rookie OG Anunoby has played his way into the starting line up and consequentially may never have more trade value than he has right now; but who is the most likely to be traded at the deadline?

Masai Ujiri has a long history of making small tweaks rather than massive changes to a teams line up mid season. While getting Serge Ibaka at last years deadline is the more memorable move, shipping Austin Daye to San Antonio for Nando De Colo is a more likely example of the changes which Ujiri may make come the deadline. However, with Toronto’s “big three” in Ibaka, Lowry and DeRozan signed to three and four year deals respectably the time for grasping at straws may be now.

If I were laying money on it I would say that Masai holds off on any major overhauls this year and concentrates on small tweaks he can make. Look for someone like VanVleet or Siakim to be the chip moved if any rather than the inevitable Valanciunas divorce we all see coming miles away. That’ll happen in the summer.


The OG effect Part 2

How good can he be? That’s what everyone wants to know. How good can the rookie who fell to us in the draft become; the one who had great athleticism and a solid three ball prior to tearing his ACL in his sophomore season of college. Is he a defensive specialist whose getting lucky from three? To the tune of 39.1% from deep? Is he the solid defender we see on the best players in the league seemingly every night? Is it the Kawhi Leonard Comparisons? It’s all of it.

More from Raptors Rapture

OG represents what may be the Raptors “getting lucky” in the draft and finding someone at the pick that they had that should have gone off the board much much earlier and that’s not something I think anyone expected in an off-season that saw both Ibaka and Lowry enter free agency.

OG is carving out a nice niche for himself as a three and D stopper in the league. If he continues to develop at the rate he currently is then the ceiling for him is truly scary to imagine.