DeMar DeRozan is the Raptors’ All Star.
OK, maybe Kyle Lowry was more deserving last year and DeRozan is a bit too inconsistent to be an All Star, his place on last year’s team more of a team honor for how well the Raptors were playing than anything else. And DeRozan is good.
In this strange perfect puzzle the Raptors have, DeRozan is one of the players that helps make things go. He is capable of taking players off the dribble, works well without the ball and plays some great defense. DeRozan is a tough player to replace, especially for this Raptors team.
So Toronto will get its first taste at some real adversity this season after DeRozan left last Friday’s game with a torn tendon in his groin. That is painful.
DeRozan is getting better although he does not have a timetable for his return. The Raptors will have to press on without their All Star.
So far, the Raptors have found some success in doing this with up and down efforts. Kyle Lowry is averaging 28.4 points per game in his last five games, taking up a bigger part of the scoring mantle. Terrence Ross has seen his average bump up to 12.8 points per game on 48.1 percent shooting and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc in that time period. Louis Williams has gone to 12.2 points per game (down from his season average) as he has been asked to step in off the bench for the Raptors.
It will take a village, in other words, to replace what DeRozan gives the Raptors.
Since his injury, Toronto has gone 2-2, heading out West for three games that included a loss to the Lakers. The loss to the Cavaliers on Friday was a tough one to stomach as it seemed to be a sign that the team is not quite the cream of the East’s crop, despite what the standings say.
Toronto is that perfect puzzle and the team cannot last too long without one piece. Not at an elite level.
The Raptors should view themselves as a team at the elite level in the Eastern Conference. For now, they just have to stay afloat until their All Star can return.