The Toronto Raptors as Pokemon
Terrence Ross – Snorlax
There are some nights that Terrence Ross looks like a future all-star (see his 51-point explosion against the Clippers in 2014). But unfortunately, there are nights when the shooting guard looks asleep on the court. This is exactly like Snorlax. When Snorlax is awake it is powerful and highly capable, it’s just too bad it spends most of its time fast asleep! Terrence Ross has all the tools to be great – a sweet looking jump shot, a 38-inch vertical leap, the athleticism to get to the foul line – but he can only reach his potential if he wakes up when he’s on the floor.
Patrick Patterson – Tauros
The ultimate team player. Tauros aren’t great alone, but as a herd they are destructive. This is a perfect representation of Patterson’s game. He’s limited offensively and a serviceable man-to-man defender. In a team setting, however, Patterson’s game becomes exponentially more valuable. He can space the floor with outside shooting, hit the boards, set perfect screens, and he is a great team defender, having the ability to switch onto guards and play the passing lanes.
Corey Joseph – Electabuzz
Solid and dependable, Corey Joseph isn’t going to blow you away with his skill or athleticism. But when the Raptors need a spark from their second unit, they look to number six from “the 6”. Electabuzz isn’t the most powerful Pokémon, and is often overlooked, but given the opportunity it can certainly shock its opponents.
Demarre Carroll – Cloyster
Cloyster uses its overwhelming defensive ability to frustrate opponents, and when it sees an opportunity it has the ability to provide shattering offense. Such is the case with Demarre Carroll. When the Raptors signed Carroll to a 4 year, $60 million contract, they were primarily looking for an elite wing defender. But Carroll can be also a solid contributor offensively. A disciple of Mike Budenholzer’s fluid offensive system, Demarre will always look for the open man, moving the ball until he finds himself wide open from outside, where he connects on 40% of his 3-point attempts.
Jonas Valanciunas – Charmeleon
He’s one step away - one step away from becoming an all-star and reaching his potential. But that next step is a difficult step to make and we’ve seen players fail to make that leap so many times in the past. He’s talented, powerful and fervently wants to be great. But just as the potent and fiery Charmeleon is one step away from transforming into a ferocious Charizard, JV is still not quite there. We saw in this year’s playoffs just how good he can be, and if he does take that next step – watch out.
DeMar DeRozan – Hitmonlee
Hitmonlee is a very solid Pokémon - great physical stats, solid defensively and can be quite great offensively. There’s just one problem with Hitmonlee: it is offensively limited to kicks, and kicks alone. The only blemish in Demar Derozan’s game is that his offense is limited to mid-range jump shots and drives to the basket. Derozan’s shaky outside shooting is the only thing separating him from elite wing players like Paul George, James Harden and Jimmy Butler. He is still an all-star and a very good starting guard, but until he adds a 3-point shot to diversify his offense, he will remain just that - a very solid player.
Kyle Lowry – Arcanine
Arcanine is a strong, fast, and powerful Pokémon with a tiger-like mentality. It’s capable of eviscerating just about any opponent. However, it wasn’t always that way. Before it was Arcanine, it was Growlithe – a small, fragile Pokémon more comparable to a house cat than a tiger. This is similar to the career path of Kyle Lowry. Originally drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2006, Kyle played 3 seasons as a back-up before getting traded to the Houston Rockets in 2009. In fact, Lowry didn’t even crack double-digit scoring numbers until his 6th season as a pro. It wasn’t until becoming a Toronto Raptor that Lowry began to flourish as a player. In his most recent 3 seasons Lowry was named an all-star on two occasions and has averaged 19PPG and 7APG. After a rocky start to his career, Lowry has become an elite force in the NBA’s Eastern conference.