The Raptors are an impossible team to figure out.
The team runs the fourth-most isolation plays in the league, and ranks 26th in Assist Ratio - yet is somehow the fourth best offense in the league.
It was a Top-10 defense in 2013-14. It's a bottom-third disaster a year later.
James Johnson was brought in to provide oomph to the team's perimeter defense. He barely plays.
All of these confusing factors have created a team that is maddening to watch. In a week that saw the Raptors go 2-2, with ugly losses to the Bulls and Pistons and less-than-inspiring wins against the two leaders in the Karl-Anthony Towns Derby, it's hard to take any solace in Toronto's performance over the last seven days.
But these power rankings are meant to be a weekly ray of hope for Raptors fans. Here are some of the performances that earned the spotlight.
#1 - DeMar DeRozan (Last Week: #3)
Weekly Stats: 23.3 PTS / 7.8 REB / 4.0 AST / 10.0 FTA / 95.0 FT%
It seems safe to assume that DeRozan has returned to his All-Star form. He's surpassed the 20-point barrier 11 times in 12 games in March. His field-goal shooting has dipped slightly in the last week or two, but he's back to getting to the free-throw line with near-Hardenian regularity.
He had a paltry NET Rating of -6.9 this week, by far the worst among Raptors regulars; his team-worst -23 against the Bulls played a big part in dragging that number down. The competition for the top spot this week was non-existent though, so he DeRozan grabs it thanks to his resurgent offense.
#2 - Jonas Valanciunas (Last Week: #2)
Weekly Stats: 12.3 PTS / 9.8 REB / 52.9 FG% / NET Rtg: +1.0
Dwane Casey may never want Valanciunas to be a consistent contributor on offense (or in fourth quarters), but that doesn't mean we can't keep lobbying for him in these rankings! His red-hot shooting from the field cooled off a bit from last week, but he has still proven to be one of the most reliable low-post scoring options not only on the Raptors, but in the league.
On post-up possessions this season, the Raptors' seven-footer is averaging an impressive 1.02 points per possession - a number that trumps each and every player that ranks ahead of him in total points scored on post-ups:
Those are some heavy-hitters he is scoring more efficiently than in the post. The only problem is, he's getting far fewer opportunities to flex is muscles down low than the cavalcade of All-Stars (and almost All-Stars) ahead of him in total post points. His total of 259 post possessions looks minuscule up against Jefferson's 614 and Aldridge's 528. It would be nice to see that gap narrowed, even if just a little bit, in the final 11 games.
#3 - Patrick Patterson (Last Week: Not Ranked)
Weekly Stats: 11.0 PTS / 5.5 REB / 2.5 AST / 8-17 3FG%
This week saw a potentially crucial development for the Raptors: the return of Patterson's three-point stroke. In the 38 games he's played since the new year, Patterson has seen his three-point field-goal percentage tumble from a ludicrously good 46.3 percent in November and December to an only just-above-average 38.7 percent. He's drained a mere 32.6 percent of his shots from deep in 2015.
This week showed signs that he's coming out of the elongated slump. He sunk 47.1 percent of his threes in four games. And after averaging just 6.4 points in 13 games between the All-Star break and March 17th, it was a delight to see him regain some of his point production.
#4 - Tyler Hansbrough (Last Week: #5)
Weekly Stats: 8.0 PTS / 2.8 REB / 71.4 FG%
Who would have thought Hansbrough would ever make it into the Top-5 once - let alone in back to back weeks. This week he channelled his inner-Valanciunas with an incredible field-goal percentage (albeit on just 14 shots - 8 of which came in his 18 point, 7-8 performance against defensive stalwarts Lou Amundson and, um ... Andrea Bargnani).
Hansbrough still remains the Raptors' NET Rating Championship Belt holder (+10.8) and continues to be oddly serviceable.
#5 - Terrence Ross (Last Week: Not Ranked)
Weekly Stats: 11.0 PTS / 1.3 REB / 1.0 AST / 35.7 3FG%
Terrence Ross got the free-throw line! His three-shots from the charity stripe against the Knicks Sunday were his first attempts since February 27th against Golden State! And while he failed to get a streak going against Detroit, he did have multiple plays in which he attacked the basket.
As was mentioned on Tuesday's broadcast, it's too late in the season for Ross to turn a 180 on what has been a year of regression, and he will need to work tremendously hard this summer. However, if he can just prove to be a floor-spacing threat that can throw defenses off with the odd drive to the basket, he will be of value to the Raptors in the playoffs.
On the Cusp
Dwane Casey & Lou Williams: Ha. Psych.
I'm out on Dwane Casey. https://t.co/8GgoAiorQX— Trilliam Lou (@william_lou) March 25, 2015