In case you missed it, here are the details on DeMar DeRozan's injury which he suffered during Friday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks: it's a torn adductor tendon in his groin, and he's officially out indefinitely, although DeRozan is hoping to return in four weeks.
It's fair to assume that the Raptors will be without their starting shooting guard for the entirety of December. The team will obviously miss him on the offensive end, where he's averaging 19.4 points, a career high usage rate of 28.6 percent, and getting to the line for 8.3 free throw attempts per game.
With DeRozan in the line-up, the Raptors rank second in the league with 29.4 attempts per game. While Lou Williams, Terrence Ross and Greivis Vasquez can replace the point production, they'll be doing it in a different manner as DeRozan. Williams is the obvious candidate to see an uptick in both minutes and usage. He's going through a terrific stretch right now, and that 20.8 minutes per game may be closer to 30 minutes per game in DeRozan's absence. Of course, the offense will lean more on Kyle Lowry, who will become the primary scoring option on this team without his backcourt mate. Dwane Casey will need to mix and match, players will shift into new roles, but the Raptors have depth to keep themselves afloat until DeRozan returns.
Here's how the schedule lines up from now until the team embarks on a six-game road trip on December 22nd:
Home games: Cleveland, Denver, Indiana, Orlando, Brooklyn, New York
Road games: at Lakers, at Sacramento, at Utah, at Cleveland, at New York, at Detroit
Even if the Raptors go .500 during this 12-game stretch, they'll be 19-9 as they near the Christmas break. Assuming DeRozan's four week timetable holds up, he should return sometime during the aforementioned road trip which will be a challenging one, as the Raptors will visit Chicago, the Clippers, Denver, Portland, Golden State and Phoenix.
The Raptors are 13-3, no other team in the Atlantic Division is above .500, so they're still in terrific shape to get a top-four seed in the East and position themselves well for the playoffs. A month without DeRozan won't have the same impact as, say, a month for the Oklahoma City Thunder without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, which has them under pressure to win at a crazy clip for the remainder of the season just to make the playoffs.
The difference speaks to: the depth of the Raptors, the fact that Durant and Westbrook are elite players, but most importantly: this is the Eastern Conference.
So, we're going to be okay. Losing DeRozan isn't ideal, but the quick start means a lot more today than it did before the injury news. Via Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic, tonight's game against the Lakers will be just the 12th game DeRozan has missed in his career. And as Eric Koreen mentioned in his write-up of DeRozan's injury, the entire Raptors starting unit missed just 13 games all of last season. The team has been blessed with an incredible run of health, and it's unfortunate to see that end now. But DeRozan will be back, and he'll return to a team still in great shape to make a run come playoff time.
What does everyone think?