Toronto Raptors: Next Man Up

The Toronto Raptors started off the season hot with an 13-3 record but with the most recent injury from their star guard DeMar DeRozan the Raptors must look for some more help from their young talent pool. DeRozan, who was an 0-8 from the field on Friday’s contest against the Dallas Mavericks, left the game early in the 3rd quarter after suffering a groin injury (torn left adductor longs tendon) and has been ruled out indefinitely. DeRozan has played in 399 out of a 410 games in his career. He hopes to return in 4 weeks or less, but with DeRozan out the Raptors will look to get help from other key players on the roster.

One person the Raptors will be looking to get a spark from is Terrence Ross. Ross is averaging 10.7 points 2.6 rebounds. He will need to step up in order for the Raptors to be successful going forward. Don’t get me wrong, Ross can light it up quickly.  The last time DeRozan was out Ross went for a scorching 51 points, tying the franchise record set by Vince Carter back in 2000. The Raptors aren’t expecting 30 points from him every night, but a solid 16 points would do justice. This is Ross’s shot to show the league his scoring ability and that he can do something other than just dunk the basketball and shoot the long ball.

Another player the Raptors will need is Jonas Valanciunas. Jonas is averaging 11.9 points and 8.3 rebounds in 24.7 minutes. For the Raptors to keep their hot streak, Jonas will need to get going early. Jonas should strive at the opportunity to have the ball in the post more and a 15 and 11 stat line is pretty reasonable. Jonas should take this chance as a learning opportunity and maybe even give us all a little glimpse of the future for Jonas.

The Raptors will also need their 2nd unit to continue their stellar job thus far and continue it into the month of December. Lou Williams has come off the bench for the Raptors playing his best basketball in years.  Williams, who was traded in late June to the Raptors in exchange for John Salmons, surprised many by being named Easter Conference Player of the Week, scoring a career-high 36 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Williams has done it all and he’s just getting started. If he can continue his amazing play with the help from Patrick Patterson, Greivis Vasquez, and James Johnson; the Raptors won’t have to worry about the best bench in the league keeping up with the starters.

The Raptors lineup going into their contest against the Los Angles Lakers Sunday will most likely consist of Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, and Jonas Valanciunas. Landry Fields who has proved himself valuable when given playing time could see himself inserted into the starting lineup if coach Dwane Casey decides he would like to keep the 2nd unit intact. The Raptors’ depth will be tested heavily and this is the chance for us all to see if the Raptors will rise or sink to the challenge. Lowry stated the following in an interview after the loss to the Mavericks:

“We’ve got to play. Next man up. It’s a team, not about one guy. If anybody goes down the next man has to step up.”

If its from Ross, Jonas, the 2nd unit, even if it’s Bruno Cabcolo for crying out loud, the Raptors will be looking for anybody on the roster that could provide a spark and with this 15 men deep roster. It can be anyone…

Raptors next 5 games: A: Lakers A: Kings A: Jazz H: Cavs H: Nuggets
A = Away H= Home

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