Can the Raptors and DeRozan step up with Kyle Lowry on the side lines?
Kyle Lowry’s wrist injury that could keep him out of action up until the play-offs, could have a massive bearing on where the Raptors end up finishing in the east this season. The self-proclaimed side from “The North” currently sit 4th in the Eastern standings and are six games back of the Cavaliers.
Bring fourth DeMar DeRozan. The Shooting guard has been in tremendous form since Lowry’s injury, and if his games since the All-star break are anything to go by, he can be counted on to fire his team to second in the East. On three back to back games against the Celtics, Blazers and Knicks, DeRozan averaged 37.6, yet it was in the final seconds against the Knicks where DeRozan came to the front, being down 90-91 DeRozan buried a jumper with 1.9 remaining to seal a win for the Raptors 92-91. Another astounding performance came four days later, a game against second seed chasers the Washington Wizards, on the road DeRozan delivered again, notching up a double-double with 32 point and 13 rebounds, a play towards the end of the game in which DeRozan nailed a three with 20 seconds to go showed how clutch he can be, Toronto closed the game out to win 114-106 win. What is in favour of the Raptors is their schedule. They don’t play a team with a top ten defence until they meet the Cavaliers at the end of the season, and by that time Lebron will surely be in rest mode for the playoffs.
If DeRozan can continue his MVP like form while Kyle Lowry is on the side-lines, surely the Raptors will be able to keep the fourth seed and maybe even challenge for the second.
Can Kawhi win the MVP award?
While triple-double machine Russel Westbrook has been stealing all the headlines this season for his monstrous performances for the Thunder. Kawhi Leonard has been extraordinary this season and he cannot be ignored in the race for the MVP award.
Westbrook has been an enigma this season. He has had stupidly good stats, on top of his incredible triple double record which has seen him get 30 with seven weeks of the season to go, he has extended his 40-point game streak to four games joining the likes of Kobe, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. We cannot forget about the likes of James Harden or Lebron too, Harden has had an incredible year leading the rockets to third in the West, a team you feel can now be a genuine threat to the Warriors and Spurs in the west. What else can be said about Lebron? His team are first in the east and his stats are impressive as per usual, but I feel that Lebron again is saving himself for the playoffs, where he will erupt with his new band of brothers including the likes of Deron Williams, and Kyle Korver.
Now we come to Kawhi, his numbers aren’t as glamorous as say Westbrook or Harden. But you could say that he plays for the Spurs, a team that shares the ball and spaces the floor, a team that doesn’t require a superstar to be good, Having just clinched their 20th playoff berth in a row. Still out of all these candidates, The Claws team are doing the best, you may add Durant into the MVP conversation but with his injury surely he’ll miss out. His team rank in 11th for offense but it’s in defence where the Spurs make their money being second to only the Utah Jazz. The stat line doesn’t point to Leonard winning MVP but its efficiency his calmness, it’s the Spurs DNA engrained on him that make him a winner, the game winning shot against the Pacers where Paul George was marking him can only enhance his reputation.
It is unlikely that Leonard wins the MVP award, but we cannot understate how good this two-way player is.
Congratulations to the League
To finish , I’d just like to comment about what an amazing season this has in terms of triple-doubles, with Ricky Rubio’s triple double against the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA has a new record for triple doubles in a season with 79, although Russ has 30 of them it is still an unbelievable achievement for the league.