Chisholm: Are Raptors making the grade at halfway point?

Tim Chisholm
1/21/2013 11:32:43 PM
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With 41 games in the books marking Toronto's halfway point in this season, it's time to take a look at the performance of each of Toronto's fifteen roster players. Obviously grading these players causes imbalances because role, expectations and talent are not distributed evenly. Fairly or not, some players grade-out higher (or lower) because more (or less) was expected of them this year. Most float around the average, with a few peaks and valleys surrounding them on this list.

Ed Davis

Davis has been a revelation this season. He came into the 2012-13 campaign struggling to get minutes in Dwane Casey's rotation, but an injury to Andrea Bargnani forced him into the starting lineup and it now looks like he's there to stay. He's averaged 14.2 ppg and 8.3 rpg in the month of January and has shot a sterling .552 from the floor during that time. While the team is better defensively when he is on the court, Davis himself is still allowing an opposing 21.0 PER at the power forward spot, so he still has room to improve, but the organization has to be thrilled with the quantum leap Davis has made on the floor so far this season. -- Grade: A

Jose Calderon

Without trying to lean too hard on hyperbole, Calderon basically saved this season for the Toronto Raptors. His insertion into the starting lineup brought a tremendous calm to the team's offence without being a drain on the team's defence. His leadership has been invaluable and his play has been so effective that prized off-season acquisition Kyle Lowry has had to make do with an unanticipated reserve role during the team's turnaround.  -- Grade: A

Amir Johnson

There is no player on this Raptors' team that better exemplifies the kind of club the Raptors want to be. He's tough, active and willing to do anything his coaches ask of him. His offensive repertoire has expanded greatly around the basket to include some fundamental footwork and a surprisingly effective sweeping hook. He still struggles to guard his position one-on-one, which leads to a lot of cheap fouls, but his play alongside Davis has made Toronto's frontcourt surprisingly difficult to deal with. -- Grade: A-

Alan Anderson

Anthony Parker 2.0 has been another under-the-radar gem, and his microscopic salary belies his effectiveness off the bench this season. He averaging 12.3 ppg off of the bench for Toronto this season and he's already had multiple game-altering performances.  -- Grade: B+

DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan started the season strong, suggesting that he might have it in him to live up to his lucrative four-year, $38-million contract extension. However, his play has fallen off dramatically since then, he's shot below 40 per cent over the last 12 games, and he's frequently invalidated by aggressive single coverage. He continues to struggle at living up to Toronto's (potentially outsized) expectations. -- Grade: C+

Terrence Ross

Unlike DeRozan, Ross has steadily improved as the season has worn on. His defence has been typically reliable, he's shot 37.5 per cent from three this month and he's offered several highlight-worthy finishes at the rim. Overall, he needs to shoot much better and learn to pass more often, but for now, he's quieted those 'reach' talks that surrounded him on draft night. -- Grade: C+

Jonas Valanciunas

Valanciunas is right around where he should be as a rookie big man, which is inconsistent but showing flashes of his great potential. His offensive game has been stronger than expected, but his defence has been slightly weaker and he fouls far too much for a starting centre. His rebounding has also fallen short of expectations and we'll see if he can have more of an impact on the boards when he returns from his broken finger next month. -- Grade: C+

Kyle Lowry

Lowry has probably been the biggest disappointment of the season so far. While his stats have been solid (he's currently sporting a very fine 22.3 PER), his actual on-court performance has left a lot to be desired. He's struggled at balancing his role as a scorer with his role as a distributor, constantly leaving his teammates high-and-dry after defensive gambles and he has not demonstrated the kind of leadership the club had expected of him as a six-year veteran. He's still a big part of the team's future, and he's still supremely talented, so everyone just has to work harder to make this relationship more functional the rest of the way. -- Grade: C

Landry Fields

Fields started the season about as poorly as one can, but he's been on an upswing since returning from surgery and is coming off his best game as a Raptor against L.A. on Sunday. He was billed as a 'glue guy' and that's what he's been of late. His defence on Kobe Bryant was stellar, his rebounding has been tremendous and, now that his teammates are looking for him on those backdoor cuts, he's having a scoring impact, too. It's just unfortunate that his jump shot has remained horrendous. -- Grade: C

Quincy Acy

Acy sure is active, and he's learning from exactly the right mentor in Johnson, but he has to cut down on the blown defensive assignments if he wants to earn minutes in a healthy Raptors rotation. -- Grade: C-

John Lucas III

He's been fine as a fill-in, but his jump shot disappeared once preseason ended and doesn't offer enough elsewhere to offset his lack of scoring. -- Grade: C-

Aaron Gray

Gray's rebounding, his one great strength, has been missing this year, making it hard to justify playing him in anything but situational matchups. -- Grade: C-

Mickael Pietrus

He played better than Rasual Butler did in this role last season, but his body is breaking down and he doesn't have it in him to contribute to an NBA team like he used to. -- Grade: D+

Linas Kleiza

For whatever reason, Kleiza cannot replicate (or even approximate) his international effectiveness in the NBA. Not even extended minutes at his natural power forward spot could jumpstart his game this season. -- Grade: D

Andrea Bargnani

What's there left to say? One of the best things to happen to this team's record this season was losing Bargnani to injury. His laconic play has finally soured the front office on him and he's now firmly entrenched on the trading block. -- Grade: D-

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