Category Archives: Raptors News

News of the day about the Toronto Raptors

NBA Toronto Raptors Kennedy Meeks

Raptors Sign Undrafted UNC Center Kennedy Meeks

Raptors president Masai Ujiri didn’t waste any time after the NBA draft to pursue his new player development program as he quickly signed undrafted UNC senior center Kennedy Meeks to a partially guaranteed deal.

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express tagged Meeks as “strong candidate for a two-way contract” prior to Thursday’s draft.

The 22-year-old Meeks is 6’10 277 lbs and averaged 12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and a steal in 24.3 minutes last year as UNC won the NCAA tournament. Meeks had some monster games at the end of the season and during the Tar Heels championship run.

At the ACC Final, Meeks had 19 points and 12 boards in a 93-83 loss to Duke.

At the NCAA tournament:

In the second round he had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks in the 72-65 win over Arkansas.

At the Elite 8 he put up 7 points, 17 rebounds and 4 blocks in the 75-73 win over Kentucky.

During the 77-76 Final Four match with Oregon, he had 25 points, 14 boards, a block and 3 steals.

Then in the championship game he had 7 points 10 boards, 2 blocks and 2 steals in the 71-65 win over Gonzaga.

He obviously has the potential to be a dominant physical force in the paint, but he’s going to be expected to step up his effort on a consistent basis in the pros.

He didn’t make the type of progress NBA scouts were hoping for over the past three years, partially due to injuries, conditioning concerns, and his porous defense, as he simply didn’t always bring the type of approach to the game you might have hoped considering his average size, length and athleticism for a center prospect. – Jonathan Givony

Meeks is an ideal candidate for the new NBA two-way contract. If he finds his way to being more consistent and adapts to the pro game, he could be a nice find that develops quickly.

Prior to the draft, Meeks worked out in Toronto and talked to the media afterwards.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri

Raptors Looking To Trade Down In The Draft?

Basketball Insiders Michael Scotto says the Toronto Raptors are trying to trade down in the NBA Draft tonight possibly to save salary cap space.

There are several teams without a first round draft pick that could be interested. The Raptors may be interested in trading for second round draft picks as unsigned players taken in the second round do not count against the cap.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Masai Ujiri and Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry Still Working Out At Raptors Practice Facility

This is the “silly season” in the NBA as unsubstantiated rumors are everywhere ahead of the draft and free agency and the notably quiet Toronto Raptors are not immune. While unrestricted free agent Kyle Lowry has been rumored to be unhappy and heading home to Philadelphia to play for the 76ers or somehow joining the over the cap Spurs in San Antonio, the All-Star point guard has been working out at the Raptors practice facility in Toronto.

“Kyle (Lowry) has been here working out and he actually just left (the practice facility),” Raptors president Masai Ujiri told the media on Tuesday. “I know what he has been telling me. I know I believe what he tells me, not the famous sources.”

After a recent article in the local media, Lowry felt compelled to respond.

“(Kyle Lowry) has been a part of our organization and he says he wants to come back,” Ujiri said. “I know speculation. We all have ups and downs. There are times when he’s been down. There are times when we are down. It happens to every team, every player. People go thru it. This is rumor season and everybody is going to make a big deal out of (everything).”

At the end-of-season media availability Lowry was asked if he’d be back next season and he diplomatically ducked the direct question, but he did say something that pertains directly to what’s happening today.

“I’ll be here (in Toronto) until June 14th, until (his son Carter’s) last day of school,” Lowry said. “So we’ll be here enjoying, once it gets a little bit warmer, enjoying this great weather.”

Not only is it a week later than necessary to be in Toronto, it’s only 10 days until free agency opens up and apparently he’s been hanging around with the Raptors the whole time.

While there are no guarantees and Ujiri admits, “there are probably five different scenarios we’ve looked at” heading into the draft and free agency, the longer Lowry sticks around in Toronto, the easier it is going to be to get his commitment to stay.

When Lowry was an unrestricted free agent three years ago, he received interest from the Heat, Lakers, Rockets and Mavs, but held off until the morning to meet with the Raptors and supposedly turned down more money from other teams. His reasons then are the same reasons he should be expected to re-up in Toronto once again.

“I don’t make a decision if I don’t have the support of my family. It just doesn’t happen,” Lowry said.

“Our locker room everyone pretty much everyone has young guys, young kids and we get a chance to talk about your kids and we get a chance to take a break from basketball and know that life is bigger than just basketball. Life is more about your family, your kids and it always makes you smile.”

In reality, nothing has changed over the last three years except maybe his relationships with his teammates have gotten stronger.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 
 

NBA Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri

Raptors Nab Future Second Round Draft Pick From Magic

Well the other shoe has finally dropped. The Toronto Raptors didn’t come away empty handed by allowing the Orlando Magic to steal away general manager Jeff Weltman. They managed to nab the worse of the Magic’s or the Lakers future second round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft as compensation.

 

 

2017 Toronto Raptors NBA predraft workout prospect T.J. Leaf

T.J. Leaf Could Be The Raptors Next Stretch Four Prospect

A likely NBA first round draft pick in the twenties, UCLA freshman T.J. Leaf was in Toronto for a predraft workout and he showed why he could be the Raptors next stretch four prospect.

The 6’10 forward shot 46.6 percent from three-point range in college and had some big time numbers in a successful program averaging 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Not surprisingly the Raptors wanted to see if he could do more than just score.

“Playmaking, being able to rebound the ball and just attack the rim,” were the things he was being asked to do said Leaf. “Not just score, but be able to make my teammate better.

“I am not the best defender right now so if they want to put me in defensive drills to help me get better, it’s great.”

The Raptors are likely in the market for a stretch four coming off the bench next season with forward Patrick Patterson about to become an unrestricted free agent and president Masai Ujiri expected to blow the budget re-signing Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker.

Last year’s rookie big men aren’t known for their shooting and someone like Leaf could earn a spot in the Raptors rotation early on next season.

“He plays the right way,” Director, player personnel Dan Tolzman said. “Decision-making and team-oriented basketball, he’s elite at that. Always seems to make the right passes. Finds himself in the right spot whether it’s opportunity rebounds or that sort of thing.

“He doesn’t need to be dominating the ball to have an impact on the game.”

Assuming the ULCA forward is still on the board when the Raptors draft at 23rd, he seems like a logical pick for a team like Toronto that is need of more three-point shooting.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan Serge Ibaka Kyle Lowry 2017 collage

Basketball Insiders Think Raptors Will Stay The Course

Options for Raptors president Masai Ujiri next season are limited and his best scenario will be to stay the course says Basketball Insiders editor Steve Kyler in his look at the future in Toronto.

1.  Attacking the free agent market to get better next next season isn’t an option as Ujiri has no real cap space to work with again this summer.

even if the Raptors said no thank you to all of their free agents, they would enter the off-season with $24.188 million in cap space. Said differently, that’s not even room for one max free agent.

2. Kyle Lowry will re-sign with the Raptors. For lots of reasons other than just the money. Lowry loves his life in Toronto and considers DeMar DeRozan “family.” Besides, there just aren’t many landing spots out there for a 31-year-old All-Star point guard that wants to win and get paid.

As much as people want to speculate about the future landing spot for Lowry, the likely outcome of the situation is he re-signs in Toronto on a whopper of a contract.

3. Serge Ibaka wanted to be traded to Toronto and the Raptors have done everything they could to make Ibaka love the move. Over and over again Ibaka has said he wants to play more at center and coach Casey accommodated him and not just to make Ibaka happy. Ujiri wants changes and Ibaka is the kind of change (a stretch-five that blocks shots) this team is looking for. Expect Ibaka to be back on a new $100 million plus contract.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri had been after Ibaka in trade for some time. Most in NBA circles believe that Ibaka made it clear to the Magic the only team he wanted to land with was Toronto

4. Patrick Patterson is likely the odd man out in free agency. He’s a “3-and-D” power forward that seems to get hurt every season and then loses his stroke. The Raptors would like to keep him as a backup power forward if the price is right, but the risk in free agency is he gets priced out of his value to Toronto.

As good as Patrick Patterson has been for the Raptors, he may be priced too high if they can reach deals with Lowry and Ibaka.

5. P.J. Tucker is a guy Ujiri acquired to fill a gaping hole at combo-forward and he impressed big time during the postseason. The Raptors want him back, but Tucker made it really clear after the season he wants to come back only if the Raptors are keeping their big name free agents – especially Lowry.

P.J Tucker has said he’d like to be back with the Raptors and his price tag might be reasonable enough to work even if the Raptors pay out big money to Lowry and Ibaka.

6. Ujiri will be active in the trade market, if not right away in July, later in the summer as teams are trying to fill holes in their rosters or ahead of the trade deadline. Moving one of his big contracts like DeMarre Carroll would make paying the luxury tax bill from re-signing his own free agents much less painful.

the situation becomes easier if the Raptors can off-load a bigger contract that no longer fits the plan going forward

Even Jonas Valanciunas could be on the block if the goal is to start Ibaka at center and let the cheaper Lucas Nogueira and  Jakob Poeltl compete for the backup center role.

As much as Jonas Valanciunas has meant to the Raptors, moving his $15.46 million salary would solve more problems for the future than he does as a player.

The Raptors are a 50 win team that been to the postseason four straight years and to stay on the radar in hockey-mad Toronto, that’s pretty much the floor and Ujiri knows it. The Raptors will “try to change the culture,” but they aren’t going to tank to do it. At least not voluntarily.

Look for head coach Dwane Casey and his two All-Stars, Lowry and DeRozan, to be back in Toronto again next season putting together another 50 win season and hoping they’ve found the magic (Ibaka) that can take them up another level. As Kyler explains, they don’t have much choice.

Be sure to check out all of Kyler’s analysis here.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Norman Powell and DeMarre Carroll and Patrick Patterson

Basketball Insiders Predict A Raptors Game Two Win

There aren’t a lot of basketball analysts willing to predict the Raptors can steal a game in Cleveland from a Cavaliers team that has had their number at The Q, but Basketball Insiders David Yapkowitz thinks it’s about to happen.

Going out on a limb here and saying the Raptors steal Game 2. The role players hit their shots, Lowry and DeRozan have big nights, and this series is 1-1 heading to Toronto.

Yapkowitz nails the key to victory for the Raptors on the road. While role players are expected to perform better at home and should be expected to be the difference makers back in Toronto, players like Patrick Patterson, DeMarre Carroll, Norman Powell and/or last year’s impact postseason player Jonas Valanciunas will need to be big  Game Two contributors in Cleveland if the Raptors are going to even this series up at one apiece.

It’s not a crazy idea to believe the Raptors secondary scorers can have an impact. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka have attracted most of the defensive effort in the postseason, so those secondary scorers are getting a lot of open looks.

If they can start hitting those shots, the Cavs defense will start to look like it has all season – porous. If they are firing bricks, poor shooting makes suspect defense look pretty good.

As Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said recently, “We’ve got to score points. … We’ve got the players to do it, to put points on the board tit-for-tat.”

Those role players have to start scoring tit-for-tat for the Raptors to steal a game in Cleveland.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

Raptors Kyle Lowry Bounces Back In Game Two Win

By Frank McLean

In his pre-game comments to the media before game two Tuesday night Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was still lamenting about the lack of enthusiasm he felt his team had in that 97-83 loss.

“We have got to play with enthusiasm,” Casey said. “I don’t think we were tired (Saturday night) if guys are tired then we will get them a (break).”

There was no questioning the Raptors effort in game two as they walked out with a 106-100 win though it did go down to the wire.

Even though the experts had the Raptors winning this best of seven series four straight, maybe five games at the most, the Bucks are not going to walk away and die and they showed that as they had a couple of shots to tie or win the game with 30-seconds or so left.

Two corrections the Raptors made from game one resulted in this win.

First they were able to free up Kyle Lowry and let him do what he does best and that’s shoot the basketball.

The Bucks played great defense in game one. They let DeMar DeRozan get his 27 points and Serge Ibaka get his 19, but the focus was on Lowry who usually can chip in with 22 or 23. Lowry only scored four points as they took him out of his game.

In game two the trio of Lowry, DeRozan and Ibaka had 22, 23 and 16 for 61 of the Raptors 106 points in the game. That’s the key to beating Toronto, you can’t stop all three, but if you take one of the trio out of the game you got a shot.

“I just went out there and played,” Lowry said after the game. “I went out there tried to make my shots and be aggressive. I got to the foul line nine times. I got aggressive early and went out there and played.”

Casey was never worried if Lowry was going to bounce back because he has coached him now for five years he knows what he has.

“He’s human,” Casey said about Lowry. “Everyone has a night like that (Game 1) and we can’t panic every time a guy has a tough night. This is a tough league, Milwaukee is a very tough grind it out type team and they are going to make it hard on you.

“It’s his competitive edge. He’s a guy that competes. Through the years where I have been in the trenches before and he always bounced back. It’s just who he is, he is a fighter, a competitor and I just knew he wasn’t going to be satisfied the way he played in the first game.”

The second correction the Raptors had was with their defense. They concentrated on keeping the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo in check.

His final numbers were outstanding, 24-points, 15-rebounds and seven assists, but he had to earn every last one of them. Every time he drove through the paint at least two defenders were draped all over him not letting him take over the game like he did in game one.

He played 42-minutes but he just wasn’t a factor.

Khris Middleton, who Casey called the Bucks X-factor before the series, scored-20 but it just wasn’t enough.

The Bucks did fight even with all the adjustments the Raptors made and they were only down two-points (100-102) with just 57-seconds left when P.J. Tucker missed a pair of free throws.

Down four points with nine seconds left after Kyle Lowry hit a 20-foot jumper, the Bucks still had life with it being two possession game, but Malcolm Brogdon missed on a long three-point attempt.

The point is this Bucks team that was supposed to be a push over are far from it.

Yes the Raptors should win this series but to do so they are going to have to make more adjustments and as long as they make the right one’s they will be all right.

 

 

   DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Serge Ibaka

Raptors Serge Ibaka Was Injured In Game One Vs The Bucks

When it happened the Toronto Raptors Serge Ibaka just lay there on the hardwood after attempting a jump shot in Game One as the Bucks ran back down the court and he didn’t move until the play stopped. It looked bad at the time. Anything from an ankle to a knee or worse as Ibaka had to be helped up and it took more than one serious attempt to get him on his feet.

Somehow he managed to finish the game, but eventually Ibaka had to admit he was injured on the play.

“Tough, it would be tough,” Ibaka said when asked if he could have played on Monday. “Don’t really think (I could play). But I’ve been there before, this is not the first time I’ve sprained an ankle. I did it before, things can be changed and tomorrow I can be 100 per cent.

“It’s getting better, better than two days ago. It’s day-by-day. Actually I woke up today a lot better, I’m walking perfect, so hopefully tomorrow I’m going to wake up and feel more better and be ready to go.”

The best news may in how Ibaka finished Game One playing on what we now know was a bad wheel. With the Raptors going a 4-17 ice-cold shooting in the fourth quarter, Ibaka, the lone starter to hit a shot, scored 5 points on 2-3 from the field.

There is an element of toughness to Ibaka. If he has anything to give, the Raptors will get it on Tuesday.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Named 4-Time Player Of The Week

Press Release:

The National Basketball Association announced Monday that DeMar DeRozan has been selected as Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played March 20-26. He earns the honor for a franchise record-setting fourth time this season – November 7-13, December 12-18, January 9-15 and March 20-26. Prior to this season, DeRozan had won the award once during his eight-year NBA career (December 7-13, 2015).

DeRozan topped all Eastern Conference players averaging 33.3 points, while leading the Raptors to a perfect 3-0 record. He shot .488 (39-for-80) from the field, .769 (20-for-26) at the free throw line and averaged 5.7 assists.

DeRozan began the week by scoring 42 points during the Raptors’ 122-120 overtime victory March 21 versus Chicago. He scored 27 points in the second half and overtime, helping the Raptors rally from a 16-point deficit. DeRozan then scored 40 points March 23 at Miami as part of Toronto’s NBA-leading and franchise-record 19th double-digit comeback win, 101-84. He finished the week with an 18-point performance March 25 at Dallas, helping Toronto secure a playoff berth in four straight seasons for the first time in franchise history.

DeRozan, a native of Compton, California, currently ranks fifth in the NBA averaging a career-high 27.1 points through 66 games this season. The three-time NBA All-Star was selected ninth overall by Toronto in the 2009 NBA Draft and became the franchise’s all-time leader in career points (11,223), field goals made (3,991), free throws made (3,009) and games played (587) earlier this season.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Serge Ibaka

Whiteside And Ibaka To Miss Raptors At Heat On Thursday

Both the Raptors and Heat managed to win their respective games on Tuesday night, but both teams are expecting key players won’t be available when they clash in Miami on Thursday says Barrie Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Whiteside’s availability this week very much in jeopardy after 13 stitches were required to close a gash between the middle and ring fingers of his right hand, an injury that happened when he sliced his hand against the backboard as he attempted to block a shot by Suns power forward Marquese Chriss with 2:08 left in Miami’s 112-97 win.

The last time Whiteside had a laceration on his right hand, almost exactly two years ago, he missed three games

Toronto figures to be without Serge Ibaka, who was ejected Tuesday after exchanging punches with Chicago’s Robin Lopez.

Serge Ibaka’s one game suspension has been confirmed.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors P.J. Tucker

P.J. Tucker Adds Defensive Toughness To The Raptors

With some unexpected last minute flair, Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri added defensive toughness and filled the gap on the wing by trading Jared Sullinger and two second round draft picks for the Suns small forward P.J. Tucker.

Ujiri had made a massive upgrade at power forward by acquiring Serge Ibaka from the Magic just days earlier, but to get the deal done, he traded Terrence Ross, the team’s backup small forward. The soon-to-be 32-year-old Tucker is a tougher, more experienced and more consistent defender than Ross albeit not quite as an effective three-point threat.

Suns teammate Jared Dudley has been singing the praises of Tucker’s defense this season as has Suns coach Earl Watson.

Watson, “It’s all on intensity, passion, toughness and a lot of heart. He (Tucker) plays with that every time he touches the court. He’s one of our best players. To me, he’s the most underrated defender in our league, especially on isolations. I think our isolation defense kind of speaks for itself because of him.”

While Tucker averages 7 points, 6 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 28.5 minutes and shoots 33.8 percent from three for the Suns this year, against the Raptors he’s scoring 12.5 points and grabbing 7 boards in two unexpected wins as the Suns held the high scoring Raptors to an average of 97 points.

Being good at isolation defense has been key to stopping the Raptors and it becomes even more important in the postseason.

Tucker was originally drafted from the University of Texas at Austin 35th overall in 2006 by the Raptors and played in 17 games for Toronto before being waived in March 2007. After playing five seasons overseas, he was signed as a free agent in 2012 by the Suns. He is in the final year of a three-year $16.5 million contract that pays him $5.3 million this season. He had been primarily used as a starter, but has come off the bench since December 31st.

On another note, the Boston Celtics have stood pat as the Raptors added talent at the trade deadline.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry Will Play For The Raptors Again Next Season

It’s been widely assumed that the bromance between DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry all but assured the Raptors All-Star point guard would re-sign with the team next season. Well, the word out of All-Star weekend confirmed the team is feeling the same way according to Basketball Insiders editor Steve Kyler.

Over the NBA All-Star break, it was said pretty dramatically that Lowry is all in with the Raptors 

Sources close to the Raptors said this weekend there was almost no scenario in which the Raptors wouldn’t pony up the money

Lowry is playing even better than his “career year” of 2015-16 and is on pace for the most minutes (37.7), points (22.8), rebounds (4.8), and three-pointers made and attempted (3.3/7.9) at the best percentage (41.7) of his career. He is averaging half an assist per game better than last year as well.

He is the engine that drives the Raptors and without him, they would be a mere shadow of the team that has won three consecutive Atlantic Division crowns.

 

 

  Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jared Sullinger

Raptors Jared Sullinger Finds His Shooting Touch With The 905

It was a big night in the 905 for the Toronto Raptors Jared Sullinger. The big man found his shooting touch, going 6-11 from the field and 2-2 from three-point range to score 16 points to go with 10 boards and 5 assists.

 

Sullinger has yet to make much of an impact in Toronto since returning from foot surgery as his team is struggling to get out of a slump and head coach Dwane Casey hasn’t had the luxury of letting him play himself back into shape. So, for the second time since his return, Sullinger volunteered to go to Mississauga to shake off the rust and work on his conditioning.

Raptors 905 won the game 118-88 over the Canton Charge. Fred VanVleet contributing 8 points and 11 assists. Brady Heslip leading the 905 in scoring with 18 points by shooting 5-8 from three. Center Edy Tavares also had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Raptors Kyle Lowry Joins DeMar DeRozan As 3-Time All-Star

NBA coaches have affirmed what everyone was expecting, the Raptors starting point guard Kyle Lowry will be joining his backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan as a three-time All-Star in New Orleans.

This will be Lowry’s third appearance in a row at the NBA All-Star Game. This year he is averaging career highs in points (22.4), field goal percentage (46.9%), three-point makes, attempts and shooting percentage (3.2/7.5, 42.2%).

Lowry, voted in as a reserve, joins All-Star starter DeRozan who will also be appearing in an NBA All-Star Game for the third time. The Raptors starting shooting guard is averaging a career high 27.9 points on 47.3 percent shooting.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Cory Joseph

Raptors Cory Joseph Scores A Career High 33 Points

The Toronto Raptors gave starting point guard Kyle Lowry the night off in Brooklyn to rest and Canadian guard Cory Joseph stepped in and stepped up to score a career-high 33 points on career highs in field goal makes and attempts (15-22) in the 119-109 road win.

“Kyle provides a lot of scoring for us, I knew that slot would be missing today, so I took it upon myself to try to be more aggressive,” Joseph said after the game. “Try to be aggressive and take what the defense gave me. They were giving up a lot of layups and short floaters, so that’s what I was taking.”

It was Joseph’s first start since last April and he played a season-high 37 minutes. However, DeMar DeRozan stole most of the limelight with a 36 point 11 rebound double-double.

The win marked the first time Toronto has reached the halfway point in the season with 28 victories, 2 wins ahead of last year at the same point (26-15) when the team set a franchise record 56 wins on the season and one win ahead of their previous best in 2014-15 (27-14) which finished with 49 victories.

Overshadowing a great performance from Joseph and the new midseason record was concern over Lucas Nogueira who left the game with blurred vision in his left eye and a possible concussion.

The Raptors play the second game of this back-to-back set on the road in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Named NBA East Player Of The Week

On the last day for NBA All-Star fan voting, the NBA has announced that the Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan is the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played January 9-15. DeRozan finished the week averaging 30.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 87.5 percent at the free throw line.

The Raptors defeated three division rivals during the week. DeRozan scored a season-high 41 points during Toronto’s 114-106 victory over Boston. He led the team with 28 points as the Raptors set a franchise-record 132 points in a non-overtime game against the Nets. Then he finished the week with 23 points versus New York in a 116-101 win.

DeRozan is the first player in team history to win the honor three times in the same season. He also won the award for games played November 7-13 and December 12-18. Previously Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Kyle Lowry had been named player of the week twice in the same season for Toronto.

Currently leading the East with 1,122 points scored, DeRozan tied a career high with 12 consecutive games with 20-or-more points in Sunday’s game against the Knicks.

 

 

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NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Raptors Lowry And DeRozan Need More Fans In All-Star Voting

The initial fan All-Star voting returns are in and just like last year, Eastern Conference guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are out of the top two in the preliminary returns. (Results as of January 5th below).

All-Star voting

 

Last year Kyle Lowry became just the third player in Toronto Raptors team history to be voted an NBA All-Star starter when he finished second among Eastern Conference guards in fan balloting with 646,441 votes. But, it took a late rally by the Raptors fans to overcome a deficit of more than 30,000 votes to help Lowry get in. (see NBA All-Star fan voting in 2016 below)

To-date the Raptors have spent the entire voting period on a western conference road trip while the Air Canada Centre was taken over for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, so basketball hasn’t been uppermost on Canadian’s minds. However, that is all about to change with the Raptors at home for 5 of the next 6 games.

It is going to take another big push by the local fanbase to get one of the Raptors guards into the top two of fan voting for Eastern Conference guards. However, winning the fan vote isn’t the only deciding factor this year. The fan vote counts for 50% with the other half split between a media panel and NBA players, but it’s unlikely a player outside of the top five in the fan vote has a chance.

The next fan voting update is Thursday, January 12th and voting ends on Monday, January 16th at 11:59 p.m. E.T.

Voting is easy. NBA fans may submit one full ballot each day through Twitter and Facebook using the player’s first and last name with #NBAVOTE, NBA.com, the NBA App and Google Search, as well as via Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblogs in China.

The 2017 All-Star Starters will be announced live on TNT on Thursday, January 19th during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. E.T.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors rookie Pascal Siakam

Raptors Pascal Siakam Climbs The Rookie Ladder To 4th

Toronto rookie forward Pascal Siakam has probably maxed out his potential climb up the NBA Rookie Ladder at fourth from the top, but for a player that wasn’t even supposed to be in the Raptors rotation, that’s pretty impressive.

4. Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

Last week: No. 5

The No. 6 rookie on Dec. 14 hasn’t surged up two places so much as remain upright while others wilted amid the intense Ladder spotlight. Siakam did put himself in position to climb, though, while second in field goal percentage, second in blocks, sixth in rebounding and 12th in Defensive Rating. This is probably his ceiling, barring either a big jump in production or a big fall or serious injury from Embiid, Brogdon and Saric in the top three.

Siakam has started every game at power forward for the Raptors so far this season pending the return of Jared Sullinger from injury and he’s averaged 4.9 points on 51 percent shooting, 3.6 rebounds, half a steal and 0.9 blocks in 18.5 minutes. While his play is full of rookie mistakes, he puts pressure on defenses in transition with his speed and plays with high energy on defense.

However, it was only by chance that Siakam could still catch the eye of Scott Howard-Cooper for the current rookie rankings. Six games ago Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was pulling Siakam early and starting Patrick Patterson in the second half and for three games in a row Siakam was averaging 0 points and 1 rebound in 5.3 minutes. Then Patterson sprained his knee and Siakam got 27.8 minutes in his last three games and bumped those averages to 3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 1.7 blocks.

While Siakam isn’t the player the Raptors were hoping would be starting every game in the first half of the season and the team is rumored to be looking for a more veteran power forward to start in his place, the rookie is belying his selection at the back end of the first round in the draft and outperforming nearly everyone chosen ahead of him.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

 

NBA Coach of the Month for December 2016 Dwane Casey

Raptors Dwane Casey NBA East Coach Of The Month For December

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has been selected as Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for December. This is the fourth time in four seasons Casey has won the award, being honored previously for December 2013, November 2014 and January 2016.

Toronto finished December with a 10-4 record (second in the East) and averaged a conference-best 112.1 points with a +11.1 point differential. The Raptors scored 100+ points in 11 consecutive games during the month (December 2-23) and became the first team in NBA history to make at least 12 three-pointers while shooting .400 percent or better from behind the arc in eight consecutive games (November 23-December 8). Toronto also finished the month ranked second defensively holding opponents to 101.1 points per game.

The Raptors set a franchise-record by winning seven straight road games (November 23-December 26), including five games during the month of December. The Raptors rallied from a 14-point deficit December 9 at Boston for their largest comeback win of the season (101-94). The team then held Orlando to an opponent season-low for points during a 109-79 victory December 18. The Raptors earned their sixth straight road win 104-98 on December 23 at Utah and set the franchise-record with their seventh victory December 26 at Portland with a 95-91 decision.

Casey is the longest serving coach in franchise history, leading the team through 427 games during six seasons with Toronto. He is also the winningest coach in team history with 233 victories and has improved the team’s win total in five consecutive seasons, including a franchise-best 56 wins in 2015-16.

Last season Casey was the recipient of the Professional Basketball Writers Association Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors a coach for his cooperation with the media and fans, as well as his excellence on the court.