Toronto Raptors Post All-Star Break Player Updates
Since Bosh was injured in the game after the All-Star break, the Toronto Raptors have struggled, posting a 6-13 mark that includes just one win against a playoff-bound team.
The once powerful Raptor offense has all but vanished, and the oft-maligned Raptors defense has been trying to set new lows.
The one-time fifth-place Raptors have fallen to eighth and only remain in the playoff hunt thanks to a Chicago 10-game losing streak.
But not every game the Raptors have played post All-Star break against contending teams has been discouraging. The Raptors:
Beat Atlanta at the ACC 106-105;
Lost to Cleveland in overtime 126-188;
Lost the LA Lakers on the road 109-107; and
Lost to Denver 97-96 on a buzzer beater.
The Raptors' fall can be directly traced back to the Chris Bosh injury in the fourth quarter of the game against Memphis: a game the Raptors lost in overtime as Bosh’s effectiveness left him after the injury.
And since his return, Bosh and the Raptors have yet to regain their pre-All-Star break success.
Chris Bosh’s stellar season has stalled in March.
Even to the casual observer, Bosh has looked a lot less decisive with the ball on offensive and less effective on defensive. Fewer points, rebounds, free throws, blocks, and steals were only made worse by increased turnovers.
Since his return from injury, Bosh hasn’t been up to his old standards, contributing just 21 points and 9 rebounds on 46.8 percent shooting.
And now Bosh is averaging less than 24 points per game on the season for the first time since opening night.
Chris Bosh looked better against Denver than in most of his previous games since his return. Actually picking up a pair of blocks for the first time since the game against Memphis.
But Bosh still hasn’t shown the decisiveness that made him so effective during the middle part of the season. And his 23 turnovers in the last five games are very concerning.
On a positive note, Bosh now holds the franchise record for double-doubles with 45.
Andrea Bargnani picked a bad time for a mid-season scoring slump.
In March, Bargnani has averaged just 14.2 points on 46.6 percent shooting, and that’s a huge drop from the 19 points on 49.3 percent shooting in February.
Part of the issue has been that Bargnani is getting 2.5 fewer shots per game in March than in the previous month.
But Bargnani did pick up his tenth double-double the season against Denver with a 14 point, 15 board, 2 block effort.
A lot of Toronto's playoff aspirations ride on how Andrea Bargnani plays the final 11 games of the season.
Jack started the first seven games in March and the Raptors went 1-6 to complete a 1-9 stretch that saw them drop from fifth in the East to barely holding onto eighth.
And while most of the issues carry wide-spread blame, Jay Triano decided to put Jose Calderon back into the starting line-up.
In March, Jack has averaged 10.6 points on 45.7 percent shooting. But over the past five games, this has dropped to 8.0 points and 34.1 percent shooting.
Hopefully Jack’s shooting slump is short-lived.
Jack was struggling with turnovers coming into March and went eight games in a row of 2 or more.
Since then, Jack has been more careful with the ball but the four turnovers against Denver were unfortunate as Jack had held his turnovers to two or fewer for the previous six games.
The Raptors need Jack to find his mid-season form again and in a hurry.
Hedo Turkoglu continues to frustrate Raptors fans with his inconsistent play.
Over the past 10 games, Turkoglu’s scoring has dropped to 9.0 points per game with a continuing trend of either low single-digit scoring or scoring in the mid-teens.
But Turkoglu has maintained his 5.1 rebound and 3.8 assist production and added almost a steal and 0.6 of a block.
On the season, Hedo Turkoglu has averaged 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.
And fans can remember the offensive and defensive force that Turkoglu was for Orlando. Signs of that force are still there. It has just been extremely frustrating to watch Hedo’s impact come and go from game to game.
The Raptors need Hedo Turkoglu to find his health and his consistency for the stretch drive and the playoffs.
DeMar DeRozan was finally designated to come off the bench for the game against Denver. And by all appearances, it did both him and the Raptors a great service.
Up until Friday, DeRozan had started in every game he has played for the Raptors this season. And so far the rookie is averaging: 8.6 points; 3.0 rebounds; 0.7 assists; 0.6 steals; and, 0.3 blocks in 21.8 minutes per game.
A decent enough start to the rookie’s NBA career.
But if one was to look for the obvious player to be moved to the bench for the Raptors drive to the playoffs, DeMar DeRozan was it.
Like most rookies, DeRozan has struggled defending his position and his offensive production has been wildly inconsistent.
As the Raptors enter the post All-Star break push for playoff position, it is time to start formulating post-season line-ups that build on the team’s experience during the season.
And while DeMar DeRozan looks like the Raptors starting shooting guard of the future, his play does not resemble that of a starting shooting guard of today.
Off the bench against Denver, DeRozan went 7-8 for 15 points, four rebounds, and a block. He should actually enjoy playing against backups after 65 games against starters.
Jose Calderon returned to the starter’s role six games ago and has been splitting time with Jack ever since. The two point guards on the floor at the same time has become something of a rarity.
And since his return, the Raptors have gone 3-3. While that might not be over-whelming, it is better than 1-9.
In the last six games, Calderon has averaged 7.0 points, 5.5 assists, and a steal in 24 minutes.
He also averaged 1.3 turnovers, which is a noticeable improvement over what Jack had produced as a starter recently.
The discussion about who should start at point guard for the Raptors may be far from over. But for now, Jose Calderon's ability to take care of the ball has landed him the job.
In March, Amir Johnson has averaged 6.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.5 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 16.5 minutes per game.
And these numbers are somewhat encouraging from a young back-up big man.
But Amir Johnson is yet another inconsistent Raptor. In the four games before his 6 point, 10 rebound effort against Denver, Johnson averaged just 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds.
On the season, Johnson has averaged: 5.6 points; 4.8 rebounds; 0.6 steals; and, 0.8 blocks in 17.1 minutes.
His averages this year still have not exceeded what he produced in limited games for the Pistons during his second season three years ago.
And while the Raptors need Amir's energy off the bench, one has to question whether there is any more upside to the young player's game?
After 19 games, Reggie Evans is averaging 3.7 points and 4.1 rebounds in 11.5 minutes for the Raptors. And Evans remains popular with the fans for his shear effort and energy.
But Reggie’s minutes and production have fluctuated wildly since he returned to the line-up. There is no real way to know whether Reggie will play or contribute meaningfully down the stretch.
One thing is for certain, if Reggie plays for more than five minutes, he will get rebounds. Reggie is averaging 12.7 boards per 36 minutes.
Jay Triano has labeled Antoine Wright as the team’s go-to guy for defensive purposes at the end of games.
But the Raptors could hardly afford to keep Wright on the floor at the start of the season because of his terrible offense, and Wright had a rough start to March as his shooting plummeted to 30 percent.
Fortunately in the last five games, Wright found his shooting stroke again, and he started producing like he did in January and February with better than 9 points on 45 percent shooting.
On the season, Wright is now averaging 6.0 points and 2.7 rebounds while shooting 39.9 percent .
The Raptors need Antoine Wright to be effective at both ends of the floor for the stretch drive and the playoffs.
Sonny Weems continues to impress and has played some of his best ball of the season recently. And Jay Triano must have finally noticed. Against Denver, Sonny Weems started in place of DeMar DeRozan.
Sonny is averaging 8.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 0.5 steals in 22.5 minutes during March. And in his start against Denver, Sonny had 14 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 27 minutes.
Weems, at 23 years old, is proving to be more consistent and effective than DeRozan, especially at the defensive end of the floor. Those extra years of college, D-league, and NBA experience show.
Sonny Weems is averaging 6.5 points and 2.5 rebounds on 50 percent shooting this season. As a regular rotation player and now as a starter, Raptors fans can expect a lot more from Weems down the stretch.
Marco Belinelli has been in and out of the Raptors line-up recently with DNP-CD and a sore back holding Belinelli out on different occasions.
But this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. One of the Raptors wing players was bound to find themselves watching from the bench. There just isn’t enough minutes for everyone.
Belinelli has made it into seven games in March, averaging 6.9 points on 45.7 percent shooting. Marco is proving he is still a valuable piece in case of injury.
On the season, Belinelli’s is averaging: 7.7 points on 40.7 percent shooting.
Rasho And The Rest
Rasho Nesterovic stepped in as a starter for eight games in Bosh’s absence and provided his usual professional effort. Now that Bosh is back, Rasho has returned to the bench.
Marcus Banks will see limited minutes while Calderon and Jack are healthy but he continues to impress with his professional attitude and effort.
Patrick O’Bryant continues to style from the sidelines in a suit.