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From Point Break to Fight Club: Grading the Raptors at the Half Part I

It's Report Card time for the Toronto Raptors...Hollywood style!

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

Last Wednesday the Toronto Raptors' hit the halfway point on their 2013-14 season which meant, GRADING TIME! We saw a bevy of player grades doled out by various blogs and media outlets and while we pondered doing the same thing, we decided to switch it up a bit. After all, grades in their usual A, B, C, format are kind of boring are they not? There's always some issue about the system.

"Wait, DeMar gets an A? LeBron's an A, not DeMar!"

"Oh, you're giving him an A based on him upping his performance metrics." "But wasn't that expected?"

You get the idea.

So after a few days of back and forth on the topic we decided to flip things up a bit and grade the members of the Toronto comparing them to clasic (or not so classic) movies.

Yep. For the next three days we'll dole out some grades with the help of Hollywood starting with...hell, why not, STEVE NOVAK!

Steve Novak = Point Break.


Sure, a good chunk of this movie is remembered for Keanu Reeves' acting, but the plot line and surrounding pieces are solid enough that if I happen to stumble upon it while flipping channels, it usually draws me in, at least for a few parts.

Steve Novak's season to date has been fairly similar. He's been used sparingly (avergaing under 11 minutes a contest) and hasn't exactly had the impact many thought he would when he was originally acquired.

But he can't be forgotten either. Due to his uncanny long-range shooting ability, by default, any time Novak gets in the game, there's a good chance things get interesting. Maybe he suddenly makes a few triples in a row, changing the tone of the game as he did recently vs the Nets, maybe his non-existent D, turns things the other way. With Novak you kind of take the good with the bad, hoping the good outweighs the rest.

Kinda like Swayze vs Reeves no?

Austin Daye = Bad Boys II.

Confession. I didn't even like Bad Boys I that much. It was ok though, and many folks were extremely high on it so I walked right into Bad Boys II hoping to be proven wrong. Perhaps I had missed something? Perhaps there was a gem of a movie waiting to bust out!

Nope. Not so much.

And to me the same parallel can be drawn to Austin Daye this season. Daye was a very intriguing prospect out of Gonzaga although I was never a believer. He never really got things going in Detroit, was pretty invisible in Memphis and through the first half of the season with Toronto, he's been pretty non-existent again. He's averaging 4.3 minutes a game and even in the wake of the Rudy Gay trade, he couldn't fight out "lesser upside" players like Patrick Patterson and John Salmons for more PT.

Bottom line is that Daye looks like he's never going to find a long-term spot in the league, and this might be his last stop.

Too bad we couldn't say the same thing about Michael Bay.

Tyler Hansborough = Wayne's World.

"Wayne's World, Wayne's World, it's party time, it's excelllllent, Wayne's World!"

Everyone remembers this movie and with good reason. It's one of the few Saturday Night Live skits that actually became solid Hollywood outings and was a huge hit for Canadian Mike Myers.

However I recently re-watched it and...I just didn't laugh very much. It was disappointing because even the parts that I remembered laughing out loud at, didn't have nearly the same impact.

I began to wonder if this movie was more of a cultural anomaly, where, you kinda had to be there in that era to get it, and find it that entertaining.

Like our boy Psycho T!

Look, Hansbrough is no Austin Daye. He's got certain intangibles that will likely keep him in the league for years to come.

But do you ever watch Hansbrough fumbling and stumbling his way through the paint, jumping 2.4 inches off the ground, and forcing a shot up and wonder, "how the #*%@ is this guy the leading scorer in ACC history???!!!"

Ok, maybe that's just the Duke fan in me but in all seriousness, up close and personal this season, Hansbrough isn't the player I remembered him being, even from his time in Indiana. His numbers so far this season are nearly identical to those with the Pacers last year, but he labours on D more than I remembered, and his athletic ability is...ahhh...dare I say Hoffa-esque at times? Due to injury he lost his spot in the rotation to Chuck Hayes over the past few weeks and if when he returns, Hayes and Patterson still get the bulk of the minutes at the big men spots, well...that pretty much tells you all you need to know.

Dwight Buycks = Open Water.

Buycks came out of nowhere. I didn't even remember him from his Marquette squad until a friend jogged my memory after he was signed for a cool $700K this past offseason.

However he had a strong Summer League performance and looked like a good option as the back-up point guard behind Kyle Lowry, DJ Augustin wasn't exactly locking down the spot with his play so the opening was there for Buycks.

But it just didn't happen. Buycks has averaged 3.4 points and 1.7 rebounds in 10.1 minutes a game but hasn't seen action in a while, even spending time in the D League recently, and Greivis Vasquez now has the back-up PG spot all sewn up.

That doesn't make Buycks' first half of the season a failure though. Like the indie movie Open Water, made for a reported $500K, it was an interesting idea with lots of upside, at a very low cost.

Terrence Ross = Fight Club

The only rule about Terrence Ross, is you do not talk about Terrence Ross.

You could argue that was the motto for the first half of Terrence Ross' season. Here was a player who was one of the more disappointing entries at this past Vegas Summer League, who couldn't seem to find a groove in a back-up spot to Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan. He struggled with his shot, didn't show much of anything else offensively, and on D, the results were sporadic at best. You didn't want to use the "B-word" considering his selection in the 2012 NBA Draft, but with some of the prospects around him such as Andre Drummond blowing up...

Then Rudy Gay gets traded, Ross gets inserted into the starting lineup sort of by default, and we start to see signs.

Confusing signs albeit, and that's where I draw the parallel to one of my favourite movies of all time Fight Club. The first time you watched it, you probably, like me, found yourself on multiple occasions wondering what the hell was going on, and trying to decide if this was an amazing movie, or a suspect one that was luring you on via the terrific performances of Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.

And then, booooom, Director David Fincher drops the bombshell on you. (Spoiler Alert.) There IS no Brad Pitt!! This was all in Mr. Norton's mind, his two selves duking it out!

Ok, so I'm cheating a bit and going a game over the mid-way grading period but Terrence Ross' 51 point explosion was of a similar "where did that come from???!!!" moment was it not? Suddenly the way you view Ross has changed, similar to the way you viewed Fincher's masterpiece and had you wondering how the whole bizarre tale was going to turn out.

With Ross' 51 points essentially kicking off the second half of his 2013-14 season, Raptors' fans are all wondering the exact same thing now.