What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Thursday, March 28, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and February: 20. Toronto Raptors

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th) :  23-35 (fourth place, Atlantic Division)  

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)
  • Points Scored: 97.1 (16th)
  • Points Allowed: 98.6 (17th)
  • Team FG%: .441 (19th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .457 (18th)
  • Team FT%: .781 (7th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .349 (20th)
  • Rebounds per game: 39.9 (28th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.5 (19th)
  • Turnovers per game: 13.1 (3rd)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.6 (19th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)
  • Scoring (ppg): Rudy Gay (20.4)
  • Rebounds per game: Amir Johnson (7.2)
  • Minutes per game: Rudy Gay (39.1)
  • Assists per game: Kyle Lowry (6.0)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Amir Johnson (.555)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Rudy Gay (.850)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Kyle Lowry (.400)
  • Steals per game: Rudy Gay (2.5)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Amir Johnson (1.3)
Worst Player of the Month: Alan Anderson

Can somebody tell my WHY Raptor fans and the Toronto media is so enamored with this guy?  Here is a guy in Alan Anderson who most likely would have never get picked up on any NBA team who is a poor shooter and rather inefficient play averaging around 11 per game, but shoots under .390.  Sure, he gives plenty of effort and energy every time he comes on the bench and steps on the floor, but he is FAR from spectacular and he is no where from being indispensable.  At thirty years old, Anderson has essentially reached his ceiling and by the way he forces up shots while he is on the floor, it is more than apparent that he is simply playing for a contract and knowing how gullible most NBA GMs are, he'll probably get an over inflated deal.  Hopefully Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo is not one of them because offering this guy an extension would be a big mistake because he is simply not as good as the Toronto media portrays him to be.  
First Player of the Month: Bryan Colangelo

Congratulations and kudos need to be given Raptors GM and head honcho Bryan Colangelo for not only pulling off possibly the biggest trade in the the NBA season, but also pulling off probably the best ever trade in Raptors history.  All he did was give up the expiring contract of the teams backup point guard at the time along with a somewhat average player and in return received a bona fide franchise player in Rudy Gay.  Sure, he has yet to be selected to an All Star team, but here is a guy who gives you a consistent 20 points and 7 boards per night, a player known to come through in the clutch and has a strong playoff pedigree as well. Gay not only brings scoring, rebounds and solid defensive play, but also gives the Raptors that winning mentality on the court that the team so desperately needed.  Paired alongside Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay gives the Raptors a three hit combo that can possibly be the envy of the league and all Colangelo had to do was give up very little in return--two players who were possibly on their way out to begin with.

It is such a sad shame that the Toronto Raptors started so poorly winning just four games in the first month, because they probably would have been in the running for the final playoff spot.  Instead they are forced to wonder "what if" as they trudge through the season trying in vain to catch up with the current eighth seed holder, the Milwaukee Bucks.  Since that abysmal first month where the Raptors went 4-13, Toronto has been playing rather respectable near .500 ball three months into the season as the went 19-22 since the end of November.  Now the door has been essentially shut despite Toronto's most valiant effort for as of the end of February, the Raptors were five games behind of the Bucks for the last playoff berth in the East and short of a miracle and/or natural disaster, Toronto has no chance to ever catching up.  Regardless of the season's outcome, however, at least Toronto fans have some semblance of optimism after four rather forgettable season as for the first time in a long time, their home team looks as if they are headed in the right direction.

It started in February when the Raptors shocked the basketball world and acquired a headline grabbing player who would not only lead the Raptors to greener pastures, but also make the team  more attractive to prospective free agents.  Getting Rudy Gay from the Memphis Grizzlies has certainly changed the game for Toronto as he gives the Raptors that box office draw that they have not had since Vince Carter graced the court of the Air Canada Centre.  Gay also gives Toronto that superstar caliber player who consistently brings his A game day after day against the very best in the league along with the innate ability to attract opposing defenses opening the floor for the other players on the team.  In acquiring Gay, Bryan Colangelo essentially sent a message to Raptors fans, the city of Toronto and the NBA that the rebuilding is over and that it is time for the Toronto Raptors to make a finally make a move towards respectability.

There will be no more waiting patiently for younger players to finally get it while Toronto endures one losing season after another--Gay's arrival has made a statement that was long overdue.  For more than five years, the Raptors have wandered aimlessly in the darkness while the rest of the league simply just took advantage and simply steamrolled over them.  At the same time, Canada's NBA team suffered the slings and arrows of insults and ridicule as the Raptors were considered by many as complete joke and not even worth paying attention to.  Now that has all changed as the NBA spotlight has finally started to shine North of the 45 degree parallel after countless years of neglect.  The Raptors can no longer be lumped in with all the other second rate dipstick teams and Toronto can be finally showcased as the world class city that it is and be given the respect that it has been yearned for so long since joining the NBA in 1995.

Sure, the arrival of Rudy Gay comes at a hefty price--60$ million over the next three years to be exact; however, as the saying goes, in order to play in the big leagues, the Raptors have to "pay to play."   For years, the Raptors have tried to compete on the cheap not going for the top tier players, and instead settled for second rate players, players who were on the downward swing in the career  or table scraps that were left from the rest of the league.  Most of that reasoning came from the sad reality that Toronto lacked that "IT" factor to attract and keep the quality talent necessary to build a respectable team.  Being situated outside of the continental United States, the Raptors were often ignored and shunned by the mainstream sports media garnering little or no attention whatsoever.  In essence, the acquisition of Rudy Gay has given the Raptors and the city of Toronto a 60$ million gigantic billboard that says "here we are and it is time for you to finally stand up and take notice!!"

The season may be all but over for Toronto as the Raptors will once again be heading to the NBA Draft Lottery, but things are finally starting to look up for this rather neglected NBA franchise.  Bryan Colangelo has finally lived up to his billing as being the man capable of not only returning Toronto into a playoff team and a major player in the Eastern Conference, but also to bring the team out of the shadows and into the spotlight once again.  Not since the Vince Carter era of the late 1990s have there been so much attention being paid on the Toronto Raptors.  Rudy Gay can be seen by Toronto fans as a start of a rebirth of not only Raptors basketball, but also a reawakening of NBA basketball in Canada.  There is a fresh new infusion of energy coursing through the veins of Raptor Nation as the arrival of Gay is just the first of many bold new happenings that will be occurring to Canada's NBA team over the coming years--so get ready, for it is going to be one wild and exciting ride.