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Jarrod Uthoff

Raptors Sign Undrafted Iowa Forward Jarrod Uthoff

The Toronto Raptors have signed undrafted Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff to a partially guaranteed two-year deal or more accurately, they have invited him to training camp and are making sure he earns enough to live on if he ends up on the Raptors 905.

The 6’10 214 lb 23-year-old was a prolific three-point shooter with the Hawkeye’s over three seasons and averaged 38.2 percent from three-point range on 5.2 attempts as a senior. Uthoff put up 18.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1 steal and 2.5 blocks per game last season.

Mark Emmert of Hawk Central writes,

The former Iowa Hawkeye star went undrafted Thursday, a mild surprise after many projections had him as a mid-second round pick.

“Jarrod Uthoff has a bizarre game that almost seems hard to place in the NBA,” explained Adi Joseph, a deputy editor for the Sporting News. “Will he be able to block shots at the NBA level? And if he can’t, will he be able to defend well enough in other ways? That was the worry with him. He has the size and skills, but they don’t fit a traditional or even a modern NBA role.”

“He can knock down shots, space the floor and I think he can hang on the defensive end,” ESPN draft expert Jay Bilas had said of Uthoff earlier in the week, predicting he would be a second-round choice. “As long as he gets with the right team, I think he can be a help to somebody.”

The Draft Express scouting report illustrates why the Raptors are showing interest in him.

Uthoff has tremendous size for a small forward, and despite lacking prototypical length, could conceivably play power forward in small lineups depending on the situation.

He is a solid, but not spectacular athlete on the whole, though he makes good use of the tools he does have on the defensive end, mitigating some concerns about how his physical tools might translate.

An exceptionally smooth, prolific jump shooter who can score in a variety of ways, Uthoff did a little bit of everything for the Hawkeye’s this season as the team’s clear first option

His ability to make shots from beyond the arc and from the midrange should help him provide value as a floor spacer at the next level. His 80% career shooting from the free throw line won’t hurt either.

Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri had indicated he was looking for more shooting this summer and if Uthoff’s game can translate to the NBA, he certainly can bring that aspect to the court.

However, Uthoff didn’t earn his deal with Toronto based on his NBA Summer League production. He averaged just 17.2 minutes, 4.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block in 4 games with the Kings in Las Vegas. He scored 2 points against the Raptors Summer League team in a 88-47 blowout loss.

Once again this season Ujiri is bringing guys that might take the final spot on the roster if the team doesn’t pick up someone more interesting or a little further along in their career. Uthoff, however, does fill a need and just maybe he can prove himself before someone else locks up the last spot.



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 Boston Celtics Jared Sullinger

Celtics Free Agent Jared Sullinger Heads North To Toronto

Everyone in Toronto can relax, Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri has landed a pretty decent free agent. Soon after being made an unrestricted free agent by the Celtics, Jared Sullinger finds his way headed north to division rival Toronto.

The deal is assumed to be in the $6 million range because, without trading a player for salary cap space, that’s all the Raptors can offer. However, Sullinger and his agent likely realize free agent monies are drying up fast and the last big man to come to Toronto for a year, Bismack Biyombo, left with a $70 million contract after helping the Raptors get to the Eastern Conference Finals. Taking less now and playing for a team that wants rebounding and defense can lead to big rewards later on.

Sullinger was an obvious choice for the Raptors as he has burned them on numerous occasions in the past. The 24-year-old big man averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in 23.6 minutes over 81 regular season games with the Celtics last season. In 12 career games against the Raptors he averaged 11.2 points and 8.6 rebounds in 24.5 minutes and he shot 8-21 from three-point range, got 12 steals and 5 blocked shots.

Last season, Sullinger pulled in 10.6 percent of the available offensive boards and 27 percent of the available defensive rebounds making him a better offensive version of the rebounding machine that was Biyombo. Biyombo pulled in 11.7 percent of the available offensive boards and 29.5 percent of the available defensive rebounds last year with Toronto, but those numbers were way ahead of his career averages. After four seasons, Sullinger actually has slightly better rebounding percentages than Biyombo did at the same stage of his career.

Sullinger does not provide the same rim protection as Biyombo, blocking the ball at about a third of Biyombo’s impressive rate, however, Sullinger grabbed steals at four times the rate Biyombo did and he uses that 270 lb body with great effect in the paint. Sullinger also has the hands and the jump shot that Biyombo is still hoping to develop some day, so opponents will no longer be able to play off of the Raptors backup big man when Toronto runs their offensive sets.

Like Biyombo, Sullinger’s minutes were slipping with the Celtics and it had become apparent he wouldn’t be back next season. He should be driven to show what he can do and used to sharing minutes with another big man which is important for chemistry as he’ll likely be backing up Jonas Valanciunas and Patrick Patterson.

Once again the ever patient Ujiri has found value for the Raptors.



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 Masai Ujiri

Raptors Still Looking For A Big And More Shooting

It’s probably the worse kept secret in the NBA, Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri is looking to add more three-point shooting and another big man this summer. He said so himself again on NBA TV during the Raptors-Timberwolves game at NBA Summer League.

When asked if he was looking to add three-point shooting or a big man, Ujiri answered “both,” responding (paraphrased), ” we are looking to add more three-point shooting and we’ll add another big man this summer whether it’s in free agency or by trade.”

This isn’t anything new, Ujiri has been saying much the same things going back to last season and this isn’t anything that hasn’t been obvious to just about everyone who follows the team for quite a while now.

The problem for Toronto is a lot of teams would like to add more three-point shooting and a big man. One dimensional veterans like forward Ryan Anderson just signed for $20 million a season because he is a good three-point shooter. Fortunately for Toronto, the money is starting to run out and it won’t be long before the guys who are left in free agency will become more amenable to the relatively merger salary cap space and exceptions the Raptors (and almost every other team now) have to work with.

If you are trying to read the tea leaves in Toronto, you could lean a bit on what Ujiri was saying or wasn’t saying.

He wasn’t saying the Raptors are looking for three-point shooting in free agency, so maybe he’s hoping to find a cheap shooter in Summer League or overseas? Also, it would seem putting Terrence Ross on the trade block would be counterproductive at this time as well.

The big man pickings in free agency are starting to get thin, but there are some interesting players still available, although for how much longer isn’t certain. The list keeps getting shorter.

Ujiri didn’t say anything new, but at least he confirmed the Raptors are still actively looking to add talent for next season. Other than re-signing their own DeMar DeRozan, this has been a very quiet free agent period in Toronto so far this summer and the fanbase is getting understandably anxious.



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.





Pau Gasol

Raptors Still Have Hope To Land Pau Gasol

The battle for Pau Gasol rages on and apparently the Toronto Raptors are one of the favorites to land him.

Pau Gasol is an obvious target for the Raptors despite turning 36-years-old this week. The big Spaniard put up 46 double-doubles and two triple-doubles on the Bulls team last season. The big question is how Toronto will be able to put together enough salary cap space to sign him?





NBA Chicago Bulls Pau Gasol

The Toronto Raptors Are After Pau Gasol

Toronto Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri has made it clear on several occasions that he has been looking to add a starting caliber power forward to his roster going back to last season’s trade deadline. There is confirmation his current target is the Chicago Bulls free agent big man Pau Gasol.

At the trade deadline Ujiri said, “that power forward position has always been a position that we need to get better. We understand that so we’ll try and figure that out whether that’s now or in the summer.”

Pau Gasol is an obvious target for the Raptors despite turning 36-years-old this week. The big Spaniard put up 46 double-doubles and two triple-doubles on a Bulls team in disarray last season. The six-time NBA All-Star may not be as good as he was during his two NBA Championship runs with the Lakers, however, he is still one of the better power forwards in the NBA and could be the bridge the Raptors need to maintain last year’s winning pace while their young big men get up to speed.

Unfortunately Ujiri won’t be alone in his pursuit of Gasol. The list of interested teams is long, likely longer than Marc Stein has indicated and the competition will be stiff.

Toronto doesn’t have the salary cap space to wow the veteran big man with a huge offer and they might not need it. Gasol, like Luis Scola last year, wants more than just money. He wants to win and he wants an important role on a team where he can be successful.

The Raptors can offer Gasol the starting power forward slot on a team that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, but only a modest salary unless Toronto can trade a current player for cap space. Ujiri will likely have to hope that what he has now is enough.



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.





Orlando Magic Bismack Biyombo

Magic Grab Biyombo From Raptors With $70 Million Offer

The Orlando Magic makeover continues as they grab Toronto Raptors free agent center Bismack Biyombo with an estimated $70 million over four years.

Biyombo was willing to give the Raptors a hometown discount to stay in Toronto, but without jumping through some major league hoops, there was no way for Raptors GM Masai Ujiri to even get in the ballpark of the Orlando offer of an estimated $17.5 million per season.

A defensive specialist, Biyombo averaged 5.5 points, 8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 22 minutes for the Raptors last season. In his 22 starts those numbers improved to 7.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2 blocks in 29.8 minutes.

The writing was on the wall for Biyombo in Toronto after the NBA draft when Ujiri took two centers in the first round.






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 Paul Saini
Instagram: and  @paul_saini





NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan Gives Raptors Hometown Discount

It was as easy as just showing up. The Toronto Raptors and All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan have agreed to a new five-year $139 million contract that starts at $24.1 million for the upcoming season. DeRozan could have asked for a max contract starting at over $26 million per season, but gave the Raptors a hometown discount. He never was going to shop around to get the most money.

“I was passionate about (Toronto) when we were losing,” DeRozan said after the season ended. “We were terrible I would say I would stick through this whole thing. I wanted to be that guy who would bring this organization to where it is now. I definitely don’t want to switch out after we win.

“My mindset has always been Toronto. I haven’t changed not one bit.”

The longest serving player on the team, DeRozan led the Raptors in scoring last season as they went to the Conference Finals for the first time in team history.

DeRozan only took one meeting to officially decide his NBA future. Franchises other than Toronto never even got a chance.


NBA contracts can’t be signed until the July Moratorium ends on July 7.





NBA Toronto Raptors Jakob Poeltl 2016

Raptors Jakob Poeltl Highlights And Workouts

The Toronto Raptors were justifiably excited to land a traditional skilled big man in Jakob Poeltl with the ninth pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. Coming from Austria to play US college basketball, Poeltl didn’t know what to expect and he kind of surprised himself. Soon, he’ll be surprising a lot of other people.


Nice post moves.


Note the jump shot!

Great sense of humor.


A must see video (on youtube only) of 2015 3rd overall NBA draft pick Jahlil Okafor vs college rookie Jakob Poeltl




CSKA Moscow Nando De Colo

Raptors RFA Nando De Colo Re-Signs With CSKA Moscow

The Toronto Raptors won’t be getting a shot at signing their restricted free agent Nando De Colo this summer as the Euroleague MVP has decided to re-sign with CSKA Moscow for another three seasons according to

He won everything there was to win this year, both at an individual and at a team level. His magnificent performances attracted some heavy attention from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. But despite the call from the sirens of the NBA, the French combo guard chose to stay in the CSKA Moscow, by signing a new three-year contract.

“I am very happy to continue playing for CSKA”, De Colo said in the team’s official website after the renewal of his contract was announced. “It wasn’t a tough decision to take. I came back to Europe to play, to use the opportunities and carry more responsibility day-by-day. This is what I did, what I had here with the club. This year we had an amazing season. And this is what I want: to play, to do it for the best team in Europe and to be one of the leaders of this team. This is what is the most important for me, this is why I signed with CSKA”.

The most wanted free agent in Europe was the regular season MVP, the Euroleague Final Four MVP and a Euroleague Champion this past year where he averaged 17.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists over 63 games while shooting 55.1 percent on twos, 42.9 percent from three-point range and 93.4 percent from the free throw line.

The Raptors had acquired De Colo in a 2014 trade deadline deal with the Spurs and have maintained his rights since the guard signed with Moscow that summer. There was a lot of interest in De Colo from NBA teams this off season as the 28-year-old guard had earlier declined his player option with Moscow and was expected to be available as an NBA restricted free agent this July.



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 D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Jesse Mermuys

Raptors Lose 905 Head Coach Jesse Mermuys To Walton’s Lakers

Jesse Mermuys was nothing less than a fantastic head coach with the NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 last season. However, the Toronto Raptors are beginning to feel the heat as other NBA teams want what they have and are willing to poach what staff isn’t nailed to the floor in the Air Canada Center.

Luke Walton has to wait until the NBA Finals are over before he can join the Lakers, but he couldn’t land a better assistant coach for a young team, someone who knows the NBA D-League talent and is ready to help with this year’s NBA Draft than Mermuys.

Mermuys was a popular assistant coach with the Raptors as well and the Raptors young players like Delon Wright, Norman Powell, Lucas Nogueira and Bruno Caboclo raved about how much he helped them to develop this past season.

His 905 players showed remarkable progress as well with two 905 players picked up by NBA teams for the balance of the season after he turned their games around and forward Ronald Roberts getting offers that he had to turn down after getting hurt.  Greg Smith was signed by the Timberwolves and Axel Toupane went to the NuggetsThe Bucks have recently invited Roberts to their NBA Summer League team.

One of Mermuys biggest success stories was turning the podding out-of-shape 7’5 Sim Bhullar into a useful and effective center in the run-and-gun D-League. It’s an all to familiar story in the NBA. An imposing big man with the natural gifts to succeed that can’t seem to get it together at the next level. Bhullar might just make it to the NBA next season and he’ll have Mermuys to thank for it.

Outgoing, positive, easy to relate to and open, Mermuys is a perfect fit on a rebuilding Lakers team. The Raptors are going to miss 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.





Toronto Raptors fans

In Toronto We Believe

As Jurassic Park outside Gate 5 of the Air Canada Centre was filling up 3 hours before game-time, the Toronto Raptors were preparing for their third elimination game in as many series hoping to make history by playing in a Game Seven two days from now. Been there, done that, they were ready.

“No pressure,” Bismack Biyombo said in the locker room immediately before Game Six. “Just excitement of getting out there and playing the game.

“It’s just getting out there and having fun and taking care of home. Confidence!”

Battle tested and ready for their biggest test of the season, the Raptors know they have their passionate fan base behind them. Game on.

It’s loud in 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.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram: and  @paul_saini



NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Raptors Kyle Lowry Beats Out James Harden For All-NBA Third Team

The National Basketball Association announced Thursday that Toronto Raptors All-Star guard Kyle Lowry has been named to the All-NBA Third Team with 35 Second Team votes and 50 Third Team votes for a total of 155 points beating out the Rockets All-Star James Harden who earned 106 points.

Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry NBA All-Star

This is Lowry’s first selection to the All-NBA team. He joins Vince Carter and Chris Bosh as the only players in franchise history to receive the honour. Carter was named to the All-NBA Second Team in 2001 and Third Team in 2000. Bosh was named to the All-NBA Second team in 2006-07.

The Raptors other All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan received 26 points towards the All-NBA Team voting.

Lowry averaged a career-high 21.2 points, a team-high 6.4 assists and was tied for third in the NBA averaging 2.05 steals in 77 games. He shot a career-best .388 (212-for-547) from three-point range, while ranking fifth in the NBA for three-pointers made.

Lowry was named a starter for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto for a second straight year. He and teammate DeMar DeRozan were named co-winners for Eastern Conference Players of the Month honours in January after averaging 45.6 points, 10.9 assists, and 9.7 rebounds while propelling Toronto to a franchise-record 11 straight wins (January 6-30). Lowry then scored a career-high 43 points February 26 in a 99-97 victory over Cleveland to earn Eastern Conference Player of the Week honours for games played February 22-28. He was named Eastern Conference Player of the week again for games played March 14-20 after averaging 26.2 points, 6.8 assists and 6.4 rebounds in five games.

Joining Lowry on the All-NBA Third team are Paul George (Indiana), LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio), Andre Drummond (Detroit) and Klay Thompson (Golden State).

The All-NBA Teams were chosen by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters in the United States and Canada. The media voted for All-NBA First, Second and Third Teams by position with points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis. Voters were asked to select two guards, two forwards and one center for each team, choosing players at the position they play regularly. Players who received votes at multiple positions were slotted at the position where they received the most votes.

NBA All-NBA Team

All-NBA 2nd team

All-NBA 3rd Team

Other players receiving votes, with point totals (First Team votes in parentheses): James Harden, Houston, 106; Paul Millsap, Atlanta, 84; Anthony Davis, New Orleans, 76 (1); Al Horford, Atlanta, 76 (2); Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota, 44; DeMar DeRozan, Toronto, 26; Hassan Whiteside, Miami, 24 (1); Isaiah Thomas, Boston, 20; Pau Gasol, Chicago, 16 (2); Jimmy Butler, Chicago, 12; Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas, 8; John Wall, Washington, 7; Kemba Walker, Charlotte, 6; Tim Duncan, San Antonio, 3; Gordon Hayward, Utah, 3; Dwight Howard, Houston, 3; Carmelo Anthony, New York, 2; Marc Gasol, Memphis, 2; Andrew Bogut, Golden State, 1; Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers, 1; Brook Lopez, Brooklyn, 1; Tony Parker, San Antonio, 1.



Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram: and  @paul_saini


Toronto Raptors Bismack Biyombo

Raptors Want Justice For Low Blow To Biyombo

Something happened at the end of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final between the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, something usually associated with a bad loser. After setting a franchise record with 26 rebounds, Bismack Biyombo slowly crumpled to the floor after what appeared to be a low blow from the 35-year-old veteran Dahntay Jones just before time expired on the 15 point Raptors home victory.

Biyombo had to be helped up after several minutes and assisted to the locker room.

“I got hit in an area that I wasn’t to get hit on,” Biyombo said after the game. “A private area. Whenever the league has a chance, probably want to take a look at that. That’s all I can say on that one.”

The comment brought some laughter from the media and Biyombo, but it wasn’t funny. That looked like a dirty play from a long-time veteran who should have known better. It’s going to be hard to argue the incident was an accident.

It shouldn’t take long for an official response from the NBA.

As an active aggressive center, Biyombo takes a lot of abuse as he fights for rebounds and Raptors head coach Dwane Casey is starting to boil over about the complete lack of foul calls his player is getting.

“He’s one of the top rebounders in the league and no telling how many times he gets hit and fouled under there without being called,” Casey said. “Again, I’m going to say this, I think he gets hit almost on every rebound and putback there is and he just doesn’t get calls.

“There’s one play where they almost have a brawl (and Biyombo) gets killed on that play. I don’t know if he’s getting hit because of how physical and tough he is, but he’s getting cracked.”

It has looked like it’s been open season on Biyombo in this series, but that final blow at the end of Game Three. Something like that crosses every line.



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 DeMarre Carroll

Raptors Provide Injury Update On DeMarre Carroll

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday tests taken following Wednesday’s game on forward DeMarre Carroll’s left wrist were negative. Carroll left Game 5 versus Miami in the third quarter with a left wrist contusion.

He will be treated symptomatically and is questionable for Game 6 on Friday at American Airlines Arena.

Carroll has averaged 9.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 31.5 minutes in 12 playoff games this season. In five games versus the Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinal, he has averaged 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 35.7 minutes in five contests.




NBA Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas

Raptors Jonas Valanciunas Out Indefinitely With Right Ankle Sprain

The Toronto Raptors announced Sunday center Jonas Valanciunas will miss the remainder of the Eastern Conference Semifinal playoff series versus Miami with a sprained right ankle.

Valanciunas sustained the injury during the third quarter of Saturday’s Game 3 in Miami. He has averaged 15.0 points, shooting .550 (61-111) from the field, with 12.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 28.5 minutes in 10 playoff games this season. In the series versus the Heat, he has averaged 18.3 points on .649 (24-37) percent from the floor, 12.7 rebounds, 1.33 blocks and 33.7 minutes in three contests.

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside was also injured in Game Three and his team announced an MRI has confirmed a mild MCL sprain. Whiteside is listed as day-to-day, but isn’t expected to return for a couple of weeks at least.


NBA Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey

Raptors Coach Casey To Receive PBWA Award Tuesday Night


Head coach Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors has won the 2015-16 Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors a coach for his cooperation with the media and fans, as well as his excellence on the court, the Professional Basketball Writers Association announced today.

He will receive the Rudy Tomjanovich Award trophy during an on-court ceremony prior to the Raptors’ playoff game Tuesday night against the Indiana Pacers in Toronto.

In his fifth season as the Raptors’ head coach, Casey led his team to a 56-26 record, the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. He also promoted an environment of mutual respect, professionalism and thoughtfulness with the working media.

Coach Casey makes a point of knowing the names of the media who cover the NBA including those from less well unknown outfits and shows exemplary patience in dealing with comments, questions and requests.

The PBWA selected five finalists for the award. The other finalists were the Charlotte Hornets’ Steve Clifford, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Doc Rivers, the Boston Celtics’ Brad Stevens and the Detroit Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy.

Casey, 59, won the award through a vote of PBWA members.

The award is named for Rudy Tomjanovich, the former Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers coach who always was professional and respectful in his dealings with the media. During his 13 seasons as an NBA head coach, Tomjanovich amassed a 527-416 regular-season record and a 51-39 postseason record. His Rockets won back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995.

The PBWA is composed of approximately 175 writers and editors who cover the NBA on a regular basis for newspapers, online outlets and magazines.


Rudy Tomjanovich Award winners
2010-11 Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz
2011-12 Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics
2012-13 George Karl, Denver Nuggets
2013-14 Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers
2014-15 Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors
2015-16 Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors



NBA Toronto Raptors Norman Powell

Raptors Norman Powell Is EC Rookie Of The Month

The National Basketball Association announced Friday that Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell has been selected as Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for April 2016.

Powell is the ninth Raptors player to win the award, joining Jonas Valanciunas (March 2013), Jamario Moon (January 2008), Andrea Bargnani (January and February 2007), Jorge Garbajosa (December 2006), Charlie Villanueva (December 2005), Vince Carter (March and April 1999), Marcus Camby (March 1997) and Damon Stoudamire (November 1995 and January 1996).

In April, Powell averaged 15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 31.6 minutes in eight games (all starts). He shot .548 (40-73) from the field and paced the team in scoring four times. He led all Eastern Conference rookies in average points and three-point makes (1.9) and tied for second in steals (1.4).

The native of San Diego, California set careers highs with 30 points, nine rebounds, 12 field goals made and five three-pointers and also matched his career-high five assists in Toronto’s 103-96 win April 13 at Brooklyn.

Earlier this month, he played a career-high 41 minutes and recorded a career-high 14 points from the free throw line in a 27-point effort in Toronto’s 111-98 win April 8 versus Indiana.

Powell also collected a career-high three steals in the Raptors’ 122-98 victory April 12 versus Philadelphia.

The Raptors acquired Powell in a draft day trade with the Milwaukee Bucks on June 25, 2015, along with a future first-round draft pick in exchange for guard Greivis Vasquez. Powell was selected by Milwaukee in the second round (46th overall) in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Powell has averaged 5.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 14.8 minutes, while shooting .424 (97-229) from the field in 49 games (24 starts) this season. Powell also played in eight games (all starts) with the Raptors’ NBA Development League affiliate, Raptors 905, where he averaged 24.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.1 steals and 39.4 minutes.

Pro Bball Report predicted Powell would win the award immediately after the Raptors final regular season game even though he has never been on anyone’s NBA Rookie Ladder and until the middle of March, he really hadn’t played enough minutes to gain much attention outside of Toronto.

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey finally admitted he should stop calling Powell’s scoring gravy in his pre-postseason media availability.


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NBA Toronto Raptors Norman Powell & Delon Wright

Pacers Make Powell And Wright Look Like DeRozan And Lowry

The Indiana Pacers only needed a win in Toronto to guarantee themselves a spot in the postseason and the Raptors gave them every advantage by resting starters Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Luis Scola. Even the recently returned DeMarre Carroll sat as he isn’t playing back-to-back games yet, but instead of grabbing the win, the Pacers made rookie guards Norman Powell and Delon Wright look like Toronto’s resting All-Stars.

“I don’t think we respected the guys that were out there,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said after the game.

The Raptors rookies combined for 46 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists as they bullied their way to the free throw line for 27 attempts and Toronto coasted to a 111-98 home victory while going deep into their bench.

It was a night of personal bests by Powell and Wright.

Powell playing a season-high 41.2 minutes and blowing past his previous best scoring game (of 18 points) with 27 points on the night. Over half of those points coming at the free throw line as Powell did his best DeRozan impression by drawing fouls driving to the bucket to go 14-19 from the charity stripe. At one point Powell was 10-11 from the line, but he seemed to get a bit tired in the fourth quarter taking advantage of all the opportunities the Pacers kept presenting to him.

“The team just told me to be more aggressive with Kyle and DeMar resting,” Powell said. “I was trying to attack the rim and draw fouls.”

“One thing (Powell) did a good job of, in transition he caught them backpedaling and he’s got that other gear to go to,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey explained. “He’s one of our fastest guys on the team with the ball and he gets guys backpedaling and he does a good job of attacking and getting them in a compromised situation and getting the foul.”

Wright’s previous best was 13 points in a game and he blew that away with a 19 point night in just 26 minutes. The young point guard also had his best game from the line this season going 6-8.

“It just feels good to finally get out there and play when Kyle rests,” Wright said.

“(Wright) just needed an opportunity,” Casey said. “He’s playing behind one of the top point guards in the league in Kyle and one of the top backups in the league in Cory. He stayed ready.”

Casey was justifiably proud of the effort from his rookies.

“They came out and played,” Casey said. “That’s one thing you don’t have to worry about and that’s effort and intensity. I thought our young guys came out and played with a lot of effort and intensity.”

Powell and Wright were the top two scorers in the game. Cory Joseph was the third high scorer with 18 points as the Pacers just couldn’t find a way to slow down any of the Raptors guards.

Monta Ellis led the Pacers with 17 points in the lackluster effort.



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

Does A Kyle Lowry Injury Equal Panic For Raptors Fans?

Last year it was a sore back that impacted Toronto Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry’s ability to make shots and led to an early exit in the playoffs. This year will it be a sore elbow? If Raptors fans feel a little panic starting to set in, there’s some justification. Just like last season at this time, we really don’t know how serious this is.

Lowry’s shot is off. Over his last five games, the Raptors starting point guard is shooting 26.2 percent from the field and 20 percent from three-point range. The impact shouldn’t surprise anyone. The red hot Raptors have cooled off and lost three of their past five games.

If Lowry can’t play like his usual self, Toronto becomes very mediocre very quickly no matter what head coach Dwane Casey tries to sell the media.

“(Lowry’s shooting) of some concern and there is reasons for that, but everybody at this time of year is going thru something, so there is other things (Lowry) has to do (like) get to the rim, kick it out, and do those things,” Casey tried to sell the media postgame. “He’ll be okay.

“No, I am not going to mention (the injury), but there are reasons for it, reasons why his shooting is the way it is.”

Lowry wasn’t so coy in his postgame comments. He’s had a procedure done and it hurts.


“We just drained it,” Lowry explained. “We thought it would calm down over the next few days. We wanted to do it when we got home (with) a couple of days between games and I got it done, just drained it.”

It sounds minor, but it’s definitely limiting and painful. Lowry’s shot hasn’t been falling lately for good reason.

“It’s definitely something that I don’t want to play with and I don’t like playing with,” Lowry said. “It is what it is and at this this time of year (you) just play thru it.”

Now that sounds a lot like what happened last year.

From a pro athlete standpoint, Lowry is a warrior when it comes to playing with pain, but that doesn’t mean he can play at the same level or with the same effectiveness on the court.

“It just gets you where you can’t extend your arm the complete way,” Lowry explained.

It sounds like this has been a lingering injury that hasn’t responded to rest and needed a procedure before it evolved into something even more serious. That isn’t the kind of news anyone in Toronto wants to hear just as the calendar is about to move into April.

“Hopefully we got it taken care of and I won’t be playing and shooting as bad  as I’ve been playing the past three games,” Lowry said. “Tonight we took care of it … get some treatment … hopefully it goes down and I can get back to my normal self.”

Everyone in Toronto hopes it’s taken care of. We have plenty of evidence the Raptors are not a serious playoff threat without their best player playing at his best. Panic? Well maybe not quite yet, but that twinge in the middle of your gut is real.



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 Houston Rockets Dwight Howard and James Harden

Rockets Are An Uncomfortable Team For Raptors To Play

The tandem of James Harden and Dwight Howard make the Houston Rockets an uncomfortable team to play for the Toronto Raptors and despite the Rockets underachieving season, they defeated the Raptors in Toronto 113-107 a couple of weeks ago.

“It is definitely a tough match-up,” Luis Scola said at shootaround. “This is a team that is uncomfortable for everybody to play. They play very uptempo. They shoot a lot of threes. They got two players that are very different, very special. Harden was an MVP candidate last year. He plays in a very particular way trying to go to the line all the time and very effective in all of the things that he does. Then Howard (is) a big center.”

Over his career Harden has averaged 24.3 points, 6.2 assists and gotten to the free throw line 10.3 times against Toronto. He is as dangerous an offensive player as the Raptors are likely to see. All Howard has done to Toronto in 12 seasons is average 21.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. The big center may not be as dominant as he once was, but he can still cause a lot of problems in the paint.

In their last meeting Harden went off for 40 points, 14 assists and took 19 free throws. Howard got his Raptors average 21 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks.

“(Harden) also had 14 assists (last time). You can’t let him have both,” head coach Dwane Casey said at shootaround. “(It’s) one or the other. He’s going to score. He is one of the top scorers in the the league, but you can’t let him have his points and then set people up for lob dunks – they had six lob dunks – lose people in transition, he found those, so that’s what you can’t do is give him both and that’s what we got to eliminate is one or the other. Either take him out totally or make sure we stay at home with the other shooters and scorers and not let him have 14 assists.

“The key is containing the ball, staying matched up in transition. A lot of their threes came in transition, so by halfcourt you got to know who you are guarding.”

The Rockets were 13-29 from three-point range in Toronto and that is taking “uncomfortable” to an unacceptable level.

Houston is on a three-game losing streak having dropped games to the Hawks, Thunder and Jazz and have split their last 10 games 5-5 to allow Utah to tie them for the last playoff spot in the West.

The Raptors are in a battle for first in the East, trailing the Cavaliers by just one game in the loss column.

Defense, or more accurately a complete lack of defensive focus is Houston’s problem. They are the fourth highest scoring team in the Association at 105.9 points per game. Unfortunately, they are the 28th ranked team in opponent’s scoring, giving up 106.8 points. The Raptors will be able to get anything they want at the offensive end of the court. All Toronto should have to do is hold the Rockets to their season average in scoring and the Raptors should walk out of the Toyota Center with a victory.



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.