Do the Raptors Have the Best Backcourt in the East?
Approaching the All-Star break the Toronto Raptors are riding a franchise-best eleven game win streak. They are currently sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference just two and a half games back from the first place Cleveland Cavaliers. Much of the team’s success as of late can be attributed to the play of the team’s two best players, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
Both enjoying career years, the tandem of DeRozan and Lowry make up the best backcourt in the Eastern Conference. They have both been selected to represent the Raptors in the All-Star game this year, which is being played in Toronto. It is their will to take over games and deliver in key moments above all that make them the Eastern Conference’s best backcourt.
*Photo via USA Today
Derozan is entering free agency this summer and he hasn’t done anything but improve his chances of signing a max contract. He is posting career highs in points (23.2ppg), assists (4.1apg) and free throw attempts (8.1), and more and more he is proving the analytics guys wrong. Derozan’s game relies heavily on the mid-range jump shot and getting to the rim and the free throw line. He doesn’t take very many three point shots but when he does he make them about a third of the time. Another part of Derozan’s game that has improved is his defense. He is putting in noticeably more effort on the defensive end and it’s paying off.
*Photo via USA Today
On the other hand Kyle Lowry, the Eastern Conference starting point guard in this year’s All-Star game is the true leader of this Raptors team. He is averaging a career high in points (21 ppg), rebounds (5 rpg) and steals (2.3spg) and is the heart and soul of this streaking team. Usually the smallest on the court, Lowry makes up for his lack of size with gritty plays and his three-point jumper. He is making almost three three-point shots per game and is getting to the free throw line another four times. Defensively he digs in which is depicted by his 2.3 steals per game, good for second in the league.
When talking about the best backcourts in the East however we need to name a few honorable mentions. The likes of Bradley Beal and John Wall, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic should all be included.
If Bradley Beal can manage to stay healthy, he and John Wall would pose a threat to Lowry and Derozan for the top spot in the East. The two Wizards showed what they could do in last year’s playoffs as they wiped away Lowry and Derozan’s Raptors in a four game sweep in the first round.
Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler also receive a couple of votes just because of how dangerous they can be. Butler, a budding superstar is on his way along with Kawhi Leonard to being the best two way player in the league. Derrick Rose, a former MVP, shows flashes of his old self once in awhile. The problem here is the inconsistency in Rose’s health and play, so the nod again goes to the Raptors backcourt.
For the Miami Heat, when they acquired Goran Dragic at last season’s trade deadline, they envisioned him and Wade making up the top backcourt in the East. So far, things haven’t exactly worked out as planned, as Dragic and Wade are both battling nagging injuries. Come playoff time however, you can never count a player of Wade’s stature out, but for now the Raptors dominate the competition.
For now at least it seems quite clear that the Raptors boast the best backcourt in the Eastern Conference. The team’s eleven game winning streak is just further support of the duo’s play. If the two can keep up their play all while leading a young Raptors team at the same time, then things could get very interesting come May and June. The northern uprising may be among us as the Raptors might just slide in under the radar to shock many.