Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I’ve watched a couple highlights with (Gay) and (DeMar) DeRozan and they seem pretty explosive,” said Paul Pierce. “I’ve seen them put up some numbers… So when you add a talent like Rudy Gay to go along with DeRozan and a healthy Kyle Lowry, and they have some very good young prospects, they could be dangerous.”
Yes, today’s headline may be something you never expected to hear, apocalyptic in a way …but with the minimal amount of news breaking overnight, what better time to take a look at the new look Raptors than now? The blockbuster of the trade deadline period thus far came when Memphis decided to part ways with star Rudy Gay, shipping him off to Toronto landing a handful of talent in exchange. Toronto however may have made out the best in this deal, putting together an extremely poor man’s version of the Oklahoma City Thunder. A team built around length and speed; a dangerous combination for the Celtics.
Having Gay and young blossoming DeMar DeRozen together in the lineup may develop into one of the best 1-2 punches in the game. DeRozen has taken significant steps forward this year in becoming the leader he’s expected to be, while Gay clearly gives Toronto a go-to guy in the clutch. Up front, the Raptors are hoping that another 1-2 punch will develop similarly with Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas. Bargnani, a disappointment much of his career has played much better out of the 4 slot and Valanciunas is in his rookie campaign and comes with high regards from Lithuania. Though he is averaging 7.4 ppg and 5 rpg, at 7’0” he is likely to improve on those numbers as he becomes more acclimated to the NBA game given that he is still only 21 years old.
In the backcourt, with a big offseason splash landing Landry Fields by throwing him boat loads of money failing, (he’s done nothing but disappoint with under 6PPG off the bench) the Raptors have relied on Kyle Lowry and DeRozen to carry the load. Lowry was a starter in Houston prior to coming to Toronto and has played well for the Raps. He is not a top ten guard in the league, but on any given night he can light a team up as he has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor.
Combined with their youth, and explosiveness, the Raptors are going to be a team that runs. If this team is ever able to completely gel, a strong defense leading to more fast break opportunities will be a true work of art in Toronto thanks to the trio of Gay, DeRozen, and Lowry. I don’t see Bargnani or Valanciunas developing into the paint defenders that Toronto really needs to be that strong defensive team, but given how both bigs are offensive minded they should both fit right in with the run and gun style team that will clearly present itself. On second thought, this team may look more like the Phoenix Suns of recent years more than the Thunder, given the lack of strong defenders on Toronto. Regardless, this spells trouble for the Celtics, adding yet another legitimate threat to not only the Eastern Conference but their own division.
With New York, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia all either loaded with talent, or built in a way that presents trouble to the Celtics adding Toronto to the mix has to spell trouble to the Celtics. No longer can they enjoy the off night in the division up north, they will have to earn their remaining games against all division teams from here on out. While it may be too soon to call the Atlantic the strongest division in the NBA, it is sure starting to look that way, which would make a playoff run all the more impressive out of the Celtics.
Around the league: (sorry guys, no real Celtics news out there this morning)