On Pro Bball Report last week: Who deserves to be an NBA All-Star, Kyle Lowry All-Star Starter, Panic in Toronto, Waiver wire prospects to watch, Raptors record setting first half, NBA Dominance Rankings, Miles Plumlee trades, James Johnson sits, Raptors blow another game and more.
Every year there are more deserving players than spots in the NBA All-Star game and in part because the fan voting is more based on popularity than reality, some very deserving players are not going have a chance. Factoring in points, assists, rebounds and team wins, Stephen Curry and James Harden should be 1 and 1A when it comes to All-Star weekend.
Kyle Lowry became just the third player in Toronto Raptors team history to be voted an All-Star starter when he finished second among Eastern Conference guards in fan balloting with 805,290 votes. Raptors fans rallied to overcome a deficit of more than 100,000 votes at the last balloting update to help Lowry overtake the Heat’s Dwyane Wade and join the Wizards’ John Wall in the starting backcourt for the East.
It was a sweat drenched and obviously irritated Head Coach Dwane Casey who addressed the media after the division-leading Toronto Raptors eked out a 91-86 win over the now 8-35 Philadelphia 76ers. “We got to make up our minds that we are serious about earning our paychecks twice a month,” Casey said. “We have an air of complacency and I don’t like it.”
Picking up a player waived by another team between the end of December and the trade deadline is a tradition in the NBA and sometimes these castoffs can make a difference to a playoff team. Garnett is still one of the top rebounders in the game. Stoudemire could be a huge difference maker on a good team. Prince will be 35 in February, but the veteran is shooting 45.5 percent from three-point range on the season and may still have enough left in the tank to help a playoff team one more time.
The Toronto Raptors had spent a franchise record 59 days atop the NBA’s Eastern Conference as they reached the midway point of the 2014-15 season with a record of 27-14, the most wins in franchise history after 41 games. It also marked the first time the Raptors had ever been alone in first place.
The NBA schedule is half over and teams are-who-they-are by this point. After 40 games, strength of schedule has started to even out and a number of teams have shown us how they can deal with adversity – or not. The Hawks are on a role and stand well above third place in our rankings and closing in on the top ranked Warriors.
Lost in the news of their current slump, the Toronto Raptors are still looking for answers to better their mediocre rebounding situation and the Phoenix Suns have just started actively shopping their 7′ backup center Miles Plumlee. Plumlee isn’t a game-changing player, but the price may be right and he could be the kind of backup center President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri should be looking for.
Head Coach Dwane Casey must be tired of losing, so he made some dramatic changes to his rotation on Monday night in Milwaukee and came away with a hard fought 92-89 win over the Bucks. Terrence Ross was replaced in the starting lineup by Greivis Vasquez and James Johnson sat as a healthy DNP-CD. The nine Raptors that played responded with one of their better defensive efforts.
The Toronto Raptors fought their way back from a 14 point first half deficit to build a 12 point lead in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t contain the Pelicans down the stretch and ended up losing 95-93 on a driving layup by Tyreke Evans with 1.6 seconds left. “We got to find a way to get jump started at the beginning of the game or find a group that’s getting jump started,” Head Coach Dwane Casey said after the game.
• Big Stories From The Previous Week
It should be obvious to even the most ardent Kobe Bryant fan that the 16-time All-Star and future Hall-of-Fame guard is no longer the dominant player he once was. Coming back from two serious injuries at 36-years-old has left Bryant a shell of his former self, but that hasn’t stopped his legions of supporters from voting en masse to make him an All-Star starter once again at the expense of the NBA’s leading scorer James Harden.
Part of the myth of Lou Williams is his instant offense off the bench and it’s true – some of the time. Williams wins teams games because he can provide that spark, that instant offense, but he doesn’t do it every time or against every defender. However, since DeMar DeRozan went down with a groin strain, Casey has increasingly turned to the veteran Williams to pick up some of the lost scoring punch with mixed results.
“When you are winning everyone is having fun and when you are losing, it’s time to get back to the serious page of doing things the right way, staying locked-in in the locker room and just doing the little things right,” Johnson said.
Harris and the Magic did not reach an extension this past October, making him a free agent in July … do the Magic want to risk a price tag north of $12 million a year for Harris or could he return something significant for a team that’s not terribly better than they were last season. Given where the Magic are in the standings it seems unlikely that they sit out the trade market, especially with so many teams shopping for parts and the Magic having some to sell.
“Nothing changes for me, I’m not a guy that needs the ball to be effective,” Acy said. “I just try to give (the ball) to (Carmelo Anthony) in spots that he likes. I am still learning how he likes to play. I am just trying to get in position to gets rebounds in this offense because I am just out there trying to figure out where I am supposed to be and then I got to go rebound. It’ll come with time.”
“I just had a son,” Millsap said. “I want to be an inspiration to my son and my younger brother. I want to be the guy that inspires other guys. I want to maximize my ability and continue to get better and try to get to the NBA.”