Morning Coffee – Fri, Jan 22

Kyle Lowry an NBA all-star game starter for second straight year | Toronto Star
Raptors forward Luis Scola, who played with Lowry when the two were with the Houston Rockets from 2008-09 to 2011-12, has been impressed with the guard’s development.
“I think he did more than I thought he was going to do, a little bit,” Scola said. “I think everybody knew he was going to be a good player, there was no question about it he was going to be a good player and he was going to play a lot of years in the NBA. I just think he took it a step further.”
Scola has seen Lowry grow up in that time.
“Five years is a lot of years so you grow, there’s no way around it,” he said. “He was single, now he’s got a family, he’s got babies, so all those things make you grow and you can see that growth in him.
“He became a great leader, he became a great player. He was always a positive personality on the team but now not only is he a positive personality but he’s also an all-star and he’s also the leader of the team.”

Raptors’ Lowry earns start at Toronto all-star game | Toronto Sun
Lowry’s selection also all but assured that teammate DeMar DeRozan would be named to the Eastern Conference team next week when the reserves are announced, since Irving, who has been injured most of the season, has no chance of being on that list.
Earlier Thursday, Lowry had said he didn’t really care whether he got voted in or picked by the coaches, only that he is in Toronto with his fellow stars next month.
“It would be great (to start), that’s my goal, but at the end of the day, if I’m still called next week, it would be as exciting,” Lowry said after practice on Thursday.
Lowry had trailed Irving by over 32,000 votes in third voting returns last week, but ended up topping him by nearly 66,000, a massive swing, though not as much as last year’s stunning jump. In 2015, Lowry had trailed Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade by over 300,000 votes before passing him.

Lowry earns another All-Star start in comeback fashion | TSN
His evolution hasn’t just taken place on the hardwood. With time, experience, marriage and fatherhood, Lowry has grown into a better leader and a better man, which has allowed him to take his game to a level most didn’t think possible.
“That happens,” Scola added. “Four or five years ago, we happened to be in the mid-20s, some of us in the early-30s and five years is a lot of years, so you grow. There’s no way around it. You’re going to mature, you’re going to get better as a person, you’re going to understand the game better, you’re going to understand the NBA life better. He was single. Now, he’s got a family, he’s got babies.
“So all those things make you grow and you can see that growth in him. You can see that growth in pretty much everybody, most of the people, it’s just natural life, you just mature and grow. He’s doing a great job at that. He became a great leader, he became a great player. He was always a positive personality on the team but now not only is he a positive personality but he’s also an All-Star and he’s also the leader of the team.”

Raptors’ Kyle Lowry: The All-Star | Raptors Rapture
“I knew before anybody knew honestly.” DeRozan said with a huge grin. “He called me and woke me up from my afternoon nap and I already knew. He deserves it, he works hard and I am really happy for him.”
“He had his ugly face on.” Lowry responded when asked if DeRozan was upset he woke him up. “But he is my guy and once I found out I had to let him know.”

Kelly: Even with an all-star backcourt, Raptors won’t put fear in anyone | The Globe and Mail
Riding the offensive instincts of Lowry and DeRozan, the Raptors are winning jump-shooting contests. They won’t win those in April. Because what was an uncontested 18-footer in January becomes a heaving no-hoper chucked over two defenders in the postseason. Come the spring, there will be no room to move on a basketball court, never mind shoot.
All-stars or no all-stars, home advantage or not, Toronto still isn’t a team that will put the fear into anyone. Rather the opposite. It is a little too much like the run-and-gun Phoenix Suns – a regular-season team that cannot toughen up when it matters.
The Raptors brought in free agents DeMarre Carroll, Bismack Biyombo and Cory Joseph to solve that problem. There was more to it than expecting those three men to play physically. It was hoped that their example and personality would remake the team’s basic identity. That it might somehow convince the Lowrys of the world that there was real glory in grinding another team down.
So far, it hasn’t worked. Carroll’s been fine when he’s healthy, but he’s never healthy. Biyombo and Joseph are admired, but still fringe figures.
This remains Lowry and DeRozan’s team, with all that suggests about defence being the first priority (i.e. it isn’t). The worst part of it is the success. How do you persuade people to change when what they’re doing works, if only just for the moment? The answer: You can’t.

DeMar DeRozan has become unstoppable driving to the hoop | Sports Gnus
Not many successful players change their game deep into their career, but that’s exactly what DeMar DeRozan has done this season. The Raptors‘ All-Star wing was considered a low-efficiency volume scorer for years because of all the mid-range shots he jacked, but he’s reinvented himself as a foul magnet who attacks the rim any chance he gets. Now he’s a much more complete offensive player who not only gets buckets, but does so efficiently.
His new repertoire was on full display on Wednesday, when he scored 34 points and dished out six assists in Toronto’s win over the Celtics, their sixth in a row. He posted up, got to the line and pulled up when the defense gave him room. But most importantly, he attacked to the rim.
The knock on DeRozan for years was that he was a throwback scorer who used the mid-range game as his main weapon. He hadn’t developed a three-point shot, which severely limited his efficiency and his ceiling as an offensive player. He needed to make a change to unlock his full potential.
But instead of improving from beyond the arc, he decided to focus on his driving game.
That shot redistribution is paying off now.

Well deserved!!! Learning so much from this guy #WeTheNorth
A photo posted by Delon Wright (@delonwright) on Jan 21, 2016 at 7:37pm PST

Dinos & Digits: It’s been a happy new year so far for the Raptors | Raptors HQ

The lineup of Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson, and Bismack Biyombo has a Net Rating of 31.4 in 64 minutes of floor time this month.
That’s the result of an Offensive Rating of 108.0 and an incredible Defensive Rating of 76.6 over that span. That’s the team’s second most-used lineup in January and by far its most efficient. In fact, that’s the highest Net Rating of any five-man lineup in the entire NBA that’s played at least 50 minutes together this month.

Congrats to my Bro @kyle_lowry7 .. Well deserve now all we need is my fam @demar_derozan to get in!!!!!#Staypositive #BLESSED #jyd2point0 #WeTheNorth
A photo posted by DeMarre Carroll (@demarrecarroll1) on Jan 21, 2016 at 7:18pm PST

Toronto Raptors: The NBA’s international team? –
It should be noted, however, that not every NBA team is as interested in reaching out to its less visible surrounding communities. Nor is simply having an international base enough to keep a team afloat.
The NBA’s expansion into another Canadian city with a large ethnic demographic, Vancouver, flopped. After six financially shaky seasons where the team never achieved a winning mark above 28%, the Grizzlies relocated to Memphis in 2001.
Ultimately, success on the court is key says Ujiri, who cites small-market, five-time champion San Antonio as a benchmark.
“The biggest advantage in sports is winning,” he says. “Your team could be situated in the bottom of the lake, and if you build a winning culture and figure out a way to win you’ll always attract everybody. Whether it’s people who work for your team, or whether it’s players.
“I think it’s very simple: build a great culture and win. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Part of building that culture is making sure fans stay engaged. Although Ujiri counts Arsene Wenger as a confidant, you would be hard-pressed to find the Arsenal manager hyping up the crowd outside his team’s arena for a big soccer game the way the Toronto chief has since his return up north.

Rookie Initiation part 2 for @delonwright & @normanpowell4 at #RapsCity Social.
A video posted by Toronto Raptors (@raptors) on Jan 21, 2016 at 6:59pm PST

The NBA Fan Confidence Rankings – Top Six Teams | Warriors World

The Raptors are loaded with assets. They have the Knicks’ first round pick this year (unless they jump the Nuggets in the lottery), the Clippers’ first rounder next season, all their own first rounders and a collection of young players with real value (Terrence Ross, Bismack Biyombo, Delon Wright and Bruno Caboclo). They also know they cannot realistically challenge Cleveland this year. I think they are the NBA’s most intriguing Trade Deadline team. Will they make any moves?

The NBA All-Star starters! WHO GOT SNUBBED THOUGH?
A photo posted by Bleacher Report (@bleacherreport) on Jan 21, 2016 at 4:38pm PST

NBA East Midseason Grades: Raptors prove Cavs don’t run the conference |
Moore: Toronto has managed to keep hold of the division and stuck around in second place for most of the first half despite injuries to DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas. They are the most consistent Eastern Conference team not named the Cavs, and look like they may have the offensive and defensive balance to finally make a playoff run past the first round. Carroll’s injury looms large, but this is one of the best teams in the franchise’s history. Grade: A+
Toronto Raptors: Finding The Balance With Their Big Men | Hoops Habit
But where he’s shown the most improvement so far has been on the defensive end as he’s currently posting the lowest defensive rating (102) throughout his four-year career, along with swatting 1.3 shots per game.
Obviously that’s the impact of Casey and his coaching staff overhauling the team’s defensive scheme over the offseason, but it’s good to see that it’s been benefiting Valanciunas thus far.
As for Biyombo, he’s been as advertised.
In 22.8 minutes per game, Biyombo’s leading the team in blocks per game (1.5), defensive rebounds per game (6.0) and defensive rating (100) of the regular rotation players.  His contributions defensively have been a big reason why the Raptors have made a resurgence on that end this year.
Can we all agree Gasol, Snell, and Mirotic need to get traded before the deadline? | Blog a Bull
Trade Tony Snell for Delon Wright. The Raptors need a defensive SF after losing Carroll and they want to compete this year. They won’t miss Wright, who is behind All-Star Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph in the rotation. Wright is a promising young PG with a lot of good skills and good length.
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Follow @raptorsrepublicFollow @RapsFanMorning Coffee – Fri, Jan 22 originated on Raptors Republic: ESPN TrueHoop Network Blog.


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