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NBA Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

Raptors Go For First Place In The East Vs The Hawks

The surging (5-0) Toronto Raptors can claim a share of the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a win over the slumping (0-5) Atlanta Hawks at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

The Raptors improved to 13-6 on the season with an easy wire-to-wire 113-80 win over the Lakers at home on Friday night to move to within a half game of the Cavaliers who lost their third game in a row as they fell 111-105 to the Bulls in Chicago. Toronto now plays the rare at home back-to-back tonight and the biggest concern may be to not look past the Hawks to the rematch against Cleveland on Monday.

Atlanta started out the season at 10-5, but a left hip injury to All-Star Paul Millsap in Utah has sent a team that was already starting to slide into a tailspin. Millsap played through the pain in losses to the Jazz, Lakers and Warriors, but he was finally sat down in the Hawks last two games and he isn’t expected to play against Toronto.

On Friday night the Hawks were crushed 121-85 by the Pistons and have now lost eight of their last nine games. They have been outscored by their opponents 104.4 – 92.7 over this stretch, however, the Raptors need to be cautious as this team started the season at 9-2 and dominated their opposition 107.8 – 98.2 including big wins in Cleveland (110-106) and against the Bulls (115-107).

The Raptors, in contrast, have been red hot over their past five games, dominating their opponents 115 – 96.2 as their offense has been firing on all cylinders led by All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry who is averaging 22.6 points and shooting 62.9 percent from three-point range over that span.

DeMar DeRozan who was leading the NBA in scoring until recently has retouched reality during the winning streak averaging just 20.8 points over the past five games, however, even he is hitting on 44.4 percent of his three-point attempts and contributing 6 boards and 6 dimes per game as defenses have decided to get the ball out of his hands at any cost. That cost has been letting Lowry and the rest of the Raptors three-point threats see a lot of open looks and they’ve been sinking them at a 50 percent clip, so eventually opponents may decide it’s better to let DeRozan shoot again.

Head coach Dwane Casey continues to preach defense, but after giving up an average of 105.5 points per game prior to the winning streak, his charges have kept their opponents below that in each of the past five games. The result may still not be up to Casey’s standards (it never is), but at least the trend is finally in the right direction.

The Raptors have lost both ends of their two previous back-to-back sets this season, so they shouldn’t be overconfident.

If Toronto can claim this winnable game against the Hawks, they’ll improve to 14-6 and sit in a virtual tie with the idle 13-5 Cavaliers. Cleveland has already defeated Toronto at the Q and at the ACC this season, so expect the Raptors to be motivated on Monday.

Note: The Toronto Raptors are in the midst of a six game homestand and the ACC has been sold out for 101 consecutive games including the regular season and the playoffs.  The streak began Nov. 11, 2014 vs Orlando and is the longest in franchise history.

 

 

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 DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Scoring Not Seen Since Michael Jordan

It’s been 30 years since an NBA player scored 30+ plus in each of the first five games of the regular season like Micheal Jordan did back in November of 1986 when the legend did it in his first six of the season. But on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan seemed to score 34 points on the HEAT with relative ease for his fifth straight 30+ point scoring night in five games and only the Sacramento Kings on Sunday stand in his way of making it six in a row.

So far this season no one has found a way to stop DeRozan from scoring and the HEAT were no different as reported by ESPN.

“We tried to give him different looks,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We really wanted to try and take it out of his hands a couple of times but we weren’t able to do it. He’s a heck of a player.”

In fairness, the HEAT weren’t able to do it last year either when DeRozan averaged 29.3 points over their four regular season meetings and he’s playing at a much higher level right now.

Back in 1986 Jordan was just 23-years-old, starting his third NBA season and was about to average over 30 points per game for the first time in his career. In those first five games in 1986, Jordan averaged 39.4 points on 50 percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Jordan was 0-2 from three-point range and averaged 29.2 field goal attempts.

Like Jordan, DeRozan isn’t relying on the long ball and has gone 1-8 from three-point range. The Raptors wing is averaging 35.8 points on 55.1 percent shooting to go with 5 rebounds and 2.6 assists. The higher shooting percentage helping to offset his fewer shot attempts (25.4).

DeRozan must be feeling a bit guilty about dominating the scoring as he passed up a few shots early on against the HEAT, but head coach Dwane Casey set him straight. The 4-1 Raptors are winning because of his scoring.

“A couple shots I passed up,” DeRozan said. “(Casey) just said to me to go out and shoot it.”

In 1986 Jordan’s Bulls also started the season 4-1, improved to 5-1 when he scored 34 points in Game six before dropping the next two.

The Raptors play the Kings (2-4) in Toronto on Sunday before a couple of tough road games starting in Oklahoma City (4-1) on Wednesday and Charlotte (4-1) on Friday.

Can DeRozan match or beat Jordan’s record of six games scoring +30 points to start a season? Suddenly an early visit by Sacramento has become a must see game. The opportunity to watch someone walking in the shadow of a legend doesn’t happen every day.

 

 

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 Leads The NBA In Scoring

The Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan is hot, red hot to start the 2016-17 NBA season and heading into Friday night’s tilt against the Miami HEAT he leads the NBA in scoring at 36.3 points per game.

Criticized as a volume shooter, something that’s become less true the longer he’s played in the league, this season he’s taken his polished mid-range game to new heights and connecting on an NBA best among guards of 55.4 percent. That’s finishing more like a paint bound big man than a perimeter player and in part he’s doing it by limiting his three-point attempts to just 1.5 per game. On Wednesday in Washington, DeRozan made his first three-point shot of the young season. The result of this shot discipline has been 145 points on just 101 field goal attempts in his first four games.

DeRozan isn’t alone in having a hot start to the season.

OKC star guard Russell Westbrook was ahead of him in points per game until running into Golden State on a back-to-back last night. Russell only managed 20 points facing the Western Conference Champs and his old teammate Kevin Durant to drop his scoring average to “just” 34.2 points per game.

Pelicans star Anthony Davis kicked off the season with a 50 point night and was just slightly ahead of DeRozan in points scored after four games, but he came crashing back down to earth in his first back-to-back set a couple of days ago with a 10 point effort in Memphis as the Pelicans lost their fifth game of the season (0-5).

Other scoring leaders like DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Lillard, James Harden and Kevin Durant have been just off the pace so far, but not that far off.

DeRozan is yet to have anything remotely like an off night and this early in the season, he can’t have one and stay on top in the NBA scoring race. Last year he averaged 29.3 points against Miami during the regular season, but in Toronto he upped that to 35.5 points. This version of the HEAT is missing Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson, although DeRozan may have to deal with his old teammate James Johnson.

Another big night for DeRozan seems likely on Friday.

 

 

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:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

Raptors Guards Show Mid-Season Form In Detroit

The preseason tilt between the Raptors and the Pistons in Detroit on Wednesday night gave a good indication about which team was ready to start the regular season and who still has a lot of work to do. The Detroit News James Hawkins reported on Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy’s displeasure with the effort he saw in his team’s final tune-up, a 103-92 loss that was worse than the score indicated.

“I have been happy with our team’s work ethic and how hard we have played throughout the preseason, but I wasn’t tonight,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I was really disappointed. I did not think that we competed hard enough tonight.

“They pounded us on the glass. I did not think we were very aggressive defensively. I do not think we did a great job contesting shots. I just do not think we battled hard.”

Toronto outrebounded Detroit 47-37 and won the turnover battle with 21 points off 14 Pistons turnovers to just 5 points on 12 opportunities provided by the Raptors.

The game was close through the first eight minutes with the lead changing hands three times, but when Van Gundy pulled his starters 8.7 minutes in and three points down, things quickly fell apart.

As Drummond exited for the 19-year-old rookie Henry Ellenson, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey replaced Jonas Valanciunas with third year center Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira and it all went downhill for Detroit. Patrick Patterson, who had subbed in for rookie Pascal Siakam a minute earlier, found Nogueira for a dunk and a minute later Nogueira grabbed Drew Crawford’s miss on a long three-point attempt for a layup. DeMar DeRozan scored his 10 point of the quarter with less than a second left after Nogueria rebounded a Marcus Morris missed three-point attempt with 18 seconds left in the quarter and nearly 12 seconds left on the shot clock.

Nogueira may have been beating up on a rookie, but that’s what he’s supposed to do at this point in his career and what Casey will need from him on most nights during the regular season. Bebe finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 18 effective minutes.

However, it was business as usual for Toronto’s All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan as they combined for 53 points on 18-35 shooting from the field and outrebounded the Pistons starting backcourt 10-0. Backup point guard Cory Joseph piling on with 10 points, 6 rebounds and a team-high 4 assists. The Raptors guards imposed their will on Detroit.

“They ran their stuff with a lot of tempo, a lot of speed and we weren’t able to match that,” (Tobias) Harris said. “The physicality got to us early on and that’s something we have to adjust to and really adapt to when we’re playing against teams that can impose their will. We have to learn and grow from it.”

Toronto led by 20 points late in the third quarter when Lowry and DeMarre Carroll were subbed out for Joseph and training camp hopeful Fred VanVleet and the Pistons went on an 8-1 run to close out the frame. VanVleet going 0-4 from the field for 0 points, 0 rebounds and 0 assists over the final 15 minutes. The now veteran Joseph providing nearly half of Toronto’s fourth quarter offense with 10 points on 4-4 shooting as his team’s leader on the court with Lowry watching from the bench. The Pistons starters Ish Smith, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Andre Drummond salvaging what the could from this game against Toronto’s 2nd/3rd unit.

The Pistons will get a chance at redemption in the Raptors home opener on October 26th.

 

 

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 Jakob Poeltl 2016

Raptors 2016-17 Season Preview Highlights

The annual Toronto Raptors season preview for 2016-17 by Basketball Insiders is out. Here are some of the highlights:

The contributors to the preview are split 3/2 in favor of the Raptors holding off the Celtics for the Atlantic Division crown.

It’s probably fair to say that there’s a consensus that Toronto is the preseason No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference, mostly because they lost exactly zero players of import after back-to-back monster seasons that finally saw them make some headway in the 2016 playoffs. – Joel Brigham

Toronto fans won’t like it. I’m a big believer in the Boston Celtics. – Alex Kennedy

The big new additions to the Raptors this off season were Celtics free agent Jared Sullinger and ninth overall draft pick Jakob Poeltl.

The Austrian Jakob Poeltl is easily the best addition to the Raptors this season. – Moke Hamilton

While DeMar DeRozan is the top offensive player and Kyle Lowry is the team’s top playmaker, Basketball Insiders picked some surprising players to like.

I’ve been on the Valanciunas bandwagon for a long time. … the 24-year-old’s ceiling remains incredibly high.

Terrence Ross has slowly but surely carved out a place for himself in Toronto. … His growth epitomizes two of the things we like best in Toronto: growth and continuity. – Moke Hamilton

The team’s strengths are listed as chemistry and continuity and their weaknesses as depth and toughness.

chemistry and continuity are among the most important things an NBA team can have on its side, and the Raptors certainly do have that.

For the Raptors, true success will be judged by how they perform in the playoffs, and as it currently stands, the team appears to be built around too many “what if” performers. – Moke Hamilton

The Basketball Insiders preview largely sums up the range of opinions out there about the Raptors and their chances of holding off the Celtics in the Atlantic Division and overtaking the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.

 

 

 


 

Toronto Raptors Drew Crawford

Raptors Sign Guard Drew Crawford And Centre Yanick Moreira

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have signed free agent guard Drew Crawford, son of NBA referee Danny Crawford, and 6’11 centre Yanick Moreira, both of whom played for the 2016 Raptors NBA Summer League entry.

Crawford, 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, averaged 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 18.0 minutes in five games, with Toronto’s 2016 entry in NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. He shot .500 (14-for-28) from the field and .750 (9-for-12) at the free throw line.

Crawford spent last season in Israel with Bnei Hertzeliyya, averaging 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 31.7 minutes in 34 games. In 2014-15, he appeared in 50 games (all starts) with the D-League’s Erie BayHawks. He averaged 16.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 33.7 minutes.

Crawford played four collegiate seasons at Northwestern. He averaged 15.6 points (ninth in the Big Ten), 6.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 36.5 minutes as a senior. He is the first Wildcat to earn Big Ten Freshman of the year honors (2009-10).

Moreira, 6-foot-11, 220 pounds, saw action in five games with Toronto in Las Vegas, averaging 2.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 13.8 minutes.

Moreira split last season between UCAM Murcia (Spain) and Rouen (France). He averaged 6.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 12.2 minutes in nine games with UCAM Murcia and 11.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 27.5 minutes in four games with Rouen.

Moreira played two seasons at SMU (2013-15), averaging 9.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 57 games. He spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at South Plains College. As a freshman, he helped South Plains College to a perfect 36-0 record and the 2012 NJCAA national title. He was named MVP of the NJCAA National Tournament.

Moreira represented Angola at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, averaging 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in five games. He recorded 38 points and 15 rebounds versus Australia.

Contracts details were not released by the team, but it believed both players have signed partially guaranteed deals and will be competing with undrafted Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff and Wichita State undrafted guard Fred VanVleet for the 15th roster spot on the Raptors. A spot on the Raptors 905 awaits the other three.

 

 

 



 

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.

 

Update:

 

 

 

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:  @fylmm.lifestyle 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 EuroHoops.net

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:  @fylmm.lifestyle 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:  @fylmm.lifestyle 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.