It's been a lean week in Raptor Land. The last four games have seen the Raptors get annihilated by the league-best Warriors, embarrassed by New York's champions of stinking and over-run by LeBron James and the Cavs. There was a win over the 76ers mixed in there, but it's hard to find solace in beating a team that runs out dudes named Furkan, Ish and JaKarr on a regular basis.
But through the adversity, some of the Raptors have managed to be, well, not terrible(?). In fact, they've been not terrible enough to land inside the Top-5 of the first ever Raptors Player Power Rankings.
Maybe such an honorable and illustrious arbitrary distinction will help heal the pain of losing to the Knicks. Let's get to the inaugural list.
#1 - Tom Sterner & Bill Bayno
Weekly Stats (4 Games): 0.25 Awesome Vines/Game; Infinite Fantastic Quotes/Halftime Interview
Okay, so we're deviating from the regular formula for these rankings before a regular formula has even been established. It seems justified this week though. This was a 1-3 week for the Raptors during which no players provided truly inspired performances - but that's not due to any lack of trying on the part of Sterner and Bayno. It started with Sterner on Monday night in Philly:
That soul-penetrating intensity obviously scared the team straight, as the Raptors ended up cruising to their first win in 10 days. Then on Wednesday, Bayno channeled his inner-Sterner during his own halftime interview, urging the Raptors to start knocking the Cavs "on their asses."
#2 - Jonas Valanciunas
Weekly Stats: 13.5 PPG / 9.0 RPG / 67.7 FG% / 1 LeBron James Tackle
Valanciunas capped off a successful week by Jusuf Nurkic-ing the best player on Earth:
While that nastiness was a joy to see, the more notable development for Valanciunas has been his refinement as an offensive player. He was relied upon to keep the Raptors in the game during Saturday's debacle in New York, draining 14 points on 71.4% shooting in the second half. He still struggles when teams bring the double-team at him, but he has made marked strides in his game this season - to the point where it seems Dwane Casey is finally ready to trust him late in close contests.
#3 - Lou Williams
Weekly Stats: 20.3 PPG / 4.3 APG / 2.8 RPG / 45.7 FG%
The case for Williams as the NBA's Sixth Man of the year continues to grow. He's currently riding a three game streak of scoring 20 or more, and in the absence of Kyle Lowry, he has upped his propensity for setting up his teammates as the back-up ball handler. Before Wednesday night's fourth-quarter explosion, Williams' poor shooting on the week had him firmly in the #4 spot in the rankings. But 26 points on 8 shots was more than enough to boost him one spot (had JV not tackled LeBron, he may have grabbed #2).
#4 - DeMar DeRozan
Weekly Stats: 21.8 PPG / 4.0 REB / 1.8 AST / 39.2 FG %
It was a weird week for DeRozan. The poor shot selection that has dogged him all season (and throughout his career for that matter) was omnipresent once again. In addition, he committed one of the more memorable muffed slam dunks of the season against the Knicks:
That being said, he seemed to re-gain some of his mojo as he shot 10/10 from the free-throw line en route to a season high 35 against Philadelphia. He also redeemed himself for Saturday's folly with a nasty cram in the closing minutes of that season-best game. In the last two games, he's shot an uncharacteristic 51.2% from the floor. A rise up the rankings will be in store if he can keep it up.
#5 - Patrick Patterson
Weekly Stats: 7.3 PPG / 3.3 RPG / 1.3 APG / 48.0 FG%
In a normal week, Patterson wouldn't have cracked the Top-5. He shot an ugly 28.3% from deep and hasn't been a particularly noticeable contributor in the last seven days. In addition, he was badly outplayed by Draymond Green in Friday's loss to the Dubs - the man he was inserted into the starting line-up to stop. But since few other members of the Raptors shone brightly this week, Patterson earns the final spot in the rankings for adding some levity to a tough week with his strange choice of hand-wear.
On the Cusp
Tyler Hansbrough - He punched a guy, and wasn't seen as the bad guy in the altercation. That's a first.
Terrence Ross - He scored some points and shot reasonably well from the field! Let's hope this isn't the highest he ever ascends in these rankings - although it very well could be.
So, what do you guys think of the first ever Raptors Player Power Rankings?
(All Stats Via NBA.com/Stats as of March 3rd)