As crazy as it sounds the Raptors after back to back wins over the struggling Knicks are now looking like front runners to win the Atlantic Division. That is almost as bizarre as envisioning a black and gold Raptors colour scheme which is rumoured to being considered as part of the team’s re-branding efforts that will happen in two seasons in conjunction with hosting the NBA All-Star Game.
The one thing that still keeps me from buying into this change of direction for the Raptors fortunes for this season is Kyle Lowry. I don’t think as a Raptor fan or someone who has covered this team to be afraid of this team not being able to re-sign him. He has been a big part of why the Raptors are winning and as there stock goes up so does his as a free agent this off-season.
If you think about it the Raptors short term thinking has always been their downfall even at the points the franchise was successful. Once again a bright shinny short term full with a ticket to playoffs is there for the Raptors. It seems quite appealing for a team that has not seen the playoffs in going on five years. It would make sense if you could have some reason to believe you can keep this group together and they will continue to improve.
There is no question you have seen that improvement in guys like DeMar DeRozan who is looking like a guy capable of being the number on option on this team. A young guy like Terrence Ross, who was in a dramatic tail spin after winning the dunk contest and having an off-season that at Summer League looked to be going totally wrong has turned a corner. He still is a major liability on the defensive end but with the added depth the Raptors got in the Gay trade they are able to hide him when needed. On the offensive end he is a scoring threat of late on more nights than he isn’t
Jonas Valanciunas has also been given some sort of re-birth in the aftermath of the Rudy Gay trade. He is starting to show the promise he did last season that had everyone excited about his future coming into this year.
The Raptors have no time to party and bring in 2014 as they face a game against Chicago tonight who are on the second half of their own back to back and struggling. This is followed by a New Year’s Day match-up with Pacers who have been the only other team in the East aside from Miami that has been a true contender. If the Raptors can take care of business and save something for the Pacers that would be the ideal circumstance. How the Raptors do against the Pacers should be interesting to watch. A win recently over a top team like Oklahoma City has to give the Raptors some confidence to match up with the Pacers.
Unlike many teams in the East Jonas while still raw and young does have the size to match-up with a Roy Hibbert who is a big piece to the Pacers puzzle.
In any case or any colours no one could have imagined the Raptors contending to win their Division prior to the start of the season. Thanks to injures for the top two teams in New York and Brooklyn combined with uninspired play even when healthy this is where the Raptors find themselves.
Things schedule wise for Toronto really turn in their favour now it was just most never saw them being competitive and still looking to win games at this point of the season. They are though and obviously are trying to balance this somewhat underwhelming success without much attention being paid to their uncertain future as far as the roster going forward.
What the Raptors decide about Kyle Lowry will ultimately go a long way in deciding their ultimate fate for this season. Unlike trading Rudy Gay there is little chance a Lowry trade makes the Raptors anything but worse. Where they stand come the trade deadline will make that choice tougher assuming they can continue on this roll till than. Their schedule definitely offers them the chance to do just that.
It is great to see a competitive and exciting basketball team for the first time in a long time. The really worry is can it be sustained and last. That is where the Raptors have struggled in the past.
It has been a pretty difficult 2013 for me personally and keeping this thing going. I have no idea what 2014 will mean as far as me trying to keep this thing going. Will see what the future holds for both the Raptors and DNB I guess. But what I really want to say is Happy New Year and all the best in 2014 for all of you that have stuck with me. If you can help out by using are Amazon banners and get yourself some new stuff for the New Year please do.
Will talk with everyone in 2014 likely after the Raptors and Pacers game is in the books. Can’t remember a year where the Raptors have got stuck with this lousy New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day back to back. I am about as thrilled about that as having the colours of a rapper for the team’s colours. In retrospect I am starting to think this Drake idea might have been one of the dumbest things the Raptors have done and that cover a lot of ground.