In their short existence, the Raptors Player Power Rankings have coincided with some of the most trying times of Toronto's season. The inaugural edition of the weekly feature followed one of the worst weeks of the entire season - one which featured blowout losses to the Warriors and Cavs and a third mega-embarrassment at the hands of the Knicks.
In the following weeks, a pair of losses to East rivals Chicago, a dumbfounding last second loss to Detroit and two heart-breakers at the hands of those damn Boston Celtics all dotted the schedule and cast doubt upon the team as a whole.
Not in these rankings though.
Since February 25th, the Raptors Player Power Rankings have striven to bring light to the darkness, and celebrate the very best of the Toronto Raptors each week.
Some players have provided more reason for hope in the last seven weeks than others. And while the final tally of the Power Rankings standings doesn't encompass the Raptors' entire season (Toronto has played 24 games in the RPPR Era, going 11-13), the final totals below do provide a solid barometer of how each Raps player has fared down the stretch.
Before we get to the final numbers, the most recent events must be taken into account - with an abbreviated top-five list to account for the last week of the season. At the time of writing, the Raptors have yet to play their season finale, so this list is based only on the last four games (Charlotte, Orlando, Miami, Boston) with the season finale at home to the Hornets excluded. Here it is:
#1 - Lou Williams: A solid shooting performance (38.5 3FG%; 18.5 PTS) and some serious Sixth Man of the Year Award buzz lands him the top spot this week.
#2 - DeMar DeRozan: A mainstay in the top-five since the RPPR's inception.
#3 - Terrence Ross: A +11.6 NET Rating (2nd among regulars) and some three point shooting gives Ross a spot for the first time since the week of March 18th - 25th.
#4 - Tyler Hansbrough: He was not good against the Celtics. but he averaged a near double-double (10.0 PTS, 9.7 REB) in more than 34 minutes per in the three games preceding Tuesday night. He did an admirable Amir Johnson fill-in job. Also, he defended Crowder's game winner fantastically.
#5: Kyle Lowry: Returned from injury against Orlando, and though he shot poorly this week, there were signs of his doggedly-determined early-season form - including his game-tying lay-in late against Boston.
Now that that's over with, let's get to the final Raptors Player Power Rankings standings. The points system is simple. A first-place finish earns 5 points, 4 points for second and so on down the top-five. The final tabulation after seven weeks looks like this:
|1 - DeMar DeRozan||3||2||1||1||0||28|
|2 - Jonas Valanciunas||X||3||1||1||X||17|
|3 - Lou Williams||2||X||1||X||X||13|
|4 - Kyle Lowry||1||X||1||X||1||9|
|5 - Tyler Hansbrough||X||X||1||2||1||8|
|6 - Terrence Ross||X||X||1||1||1||6|
|7 - Patrick Patterson||X||X||1||X||1||4|
|8 - James Johnson||X||1||X||X||X||4|
|9 - Amir Johnson||X||X||X||1||X||2|
|10 - Greivis Vasquez||X||X||X||1||X||2|
*Note - Tom Sterner and Bill Bayno shared the top spot in the week of Feb. 25 - Mar. 1 because the Raptors' actual players were atrociously bad that week.
Obviously, some players are negatively portrayed in these rankings based on the sample of time that they cover. Lowry and Amir Johnson each missed chunks of time recently, James Johnson averaged just 16.6 minutes (and sat three games out entirely) in his games since February 25th and DeMar DeRozan's play mysteriously picked up almost exactly when the rankings became a weekly feature.
A full season of power rankings probably would have seen Lowry contend for the top spot based on his stellar first half. Patterson's stock would also be higher thanks to his lights-out three-point shooting and general awesomeness early on.
My theory is that the pressure felt by the Raptors' players to make the top-five in these prominent and highly-influential weekly power rankings caused some players - like Patterson, Lowry and Vasquez - to crumble while the likes of DeRozan, Williams and Valanciunas rose to the challenge.
Yes, that theory is probably wrong. But regardless, thanks for keeping up with the Raptors Player Power Rankings - we'll see you in 2015-16 where DeRozan will defend his crown.