The fallout from the Rudy Gay trade continues, which now has seen the Toronto Raptors win 10 of 15 games, led by the continued impressive play of shooting guard Demar Derozan, and the vast improvement of point guard Kyle Lowry. With the former Raptors’ small forward, Gay, out of the equation; the Raptors have displayed brilliant ball movement started by PG Lowry, which has led to himself and Demar being considered as candidates for the 63rd All-Star Game.
I know what you’re thinking, and yes, the all-star game has not seen its share of Toronto Raptors in the past. Given the lack of star power the team has had since losing their last all-star, Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat in 2010, the Raptors have not seen an all-star since.
Yet, with injuries and a weakened Eastern Conference, in addition to the Raptors playing themselves into what is looking like a playoff spot, this may be the year a Raptor gets to take the floor with the other stars. One thing that influences selections for the all-star game, specifically the reserves, is the success of the overall team in the season. With the hot streak that the Raptors have been on, they have secured a comfortable lead in the Atlantic Division, and the 4th best record in the Eastern Conference with a 16-17 record.
Coming into the season, Derozan made some strides in improving his game, which has seen his overall statistics increase in almost every single category (save for shooting percentages), as well as an increase in his PER by 2 from the previous season, to 17.09 (ranks 3rd amongst East SG, 10th in East guards).
More impressive are his numbers since the departure of Rudy Gay, in the 15 games he has averaged 21.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, with a TS% of .501. With the guard position being thin in the East due to injuries, his increased level of play has him becoming a leading candidate for a Raptors’ All-Star.
As of the latest all-star voting returns, Derozan sits at 10th overall amongst Eastern Conference Guards. With the starting roles likely going to be claimed by front runners Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving, the increased voting indicates that at the very least, Derozan is getting recognition for his play from the fans.
Chances: leaning towards likely, with the lack of depth at SG in the East, and Derozan being viewed as the face of the Raptors, if there is to be one representative at the all-star game, it would be #10.
With 8 reserve spots to be decided by coaches, as well as injuries to Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams—all 3 which are currently in the top 10 guards for all-star voting—is it that far-fetched to think that Kyle Lowry may stand a chance to land one of those 8 spots?
Taking a closer look at the statistics, you may be surprised to find out that Kyle Lowry makes a better case to become an all-star than his teammate Derozan. Lowry has been a Toronto Raptor for just a little over a combined full 82 game season, after coming over from Houston where his career realized a breakout.
Raptors fans for the most part have not been overly impressed with his performance up until this recent run, which has seen a spike from the first 18 games of the season where he averaged (14.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.7 SPG, .553 TS%) to these last 15 games averaging (17.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 8.4 APG, 1.8 SPG, .588 TS%). Lowry currently ranks 14th in the East (43rd overall) with a PER of 19.21, and 4th overall amongst Eastern Conference guards, just behind Wall, Irving, and Wade.
Despite making a better case than Derozan, his chances seem unlikely due to lack of star-power that comes with is name, as history dictates, players who are not as popular are less likely to get selected. If he is to stand a shot of being considered for New Orleans, he will need to continue this level of play going forward, as he will be competing with the likes of Jeff Teague, Kemba Walker, and Michael Carter-Williams for that spot.
Chances: I don’t like his chances at the moment, only time will tell, but he can continue to make a strong case with his play.
While we’re on the top of All-Star weekend, the Toronto Raptors have two worthy candidates to play in the rookie/sophomore game in Jonas Valanciunas and Terence Ross, neither of whom were selected for the game in 2013. While both have increased roles this season, the Lithuanian center has not had a consistent season, showing flashes of why former GM Brian Colangelo drafted him 5th overall in 2011, but with the limited sophomore big men available to select from, JV’s talent alone may be enough for him to get showcased in the game.
Terrence Ross has arguably been the biggest beneficiary to Rudy Gay’s departure, with coach Dwane Casey promoting the second year guard into Gay’s spot in the starting line-up. His numbers have certainly shown on the box scores—averaging 12.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, .555 TS%, but more impressively, his improvement on defence. Being the reigning slam dunk champion may increase his chances in a game where dunks are plenty.