While the injury update provided by the Raptors on Wednesday included minor updates on Landry Fields (Landry will have a followup with his surgeon on Thursday) and Alan Anderson (expected to return Friday), the real story was the bad news surrounding the statuses of Kyle Lowry and Andrea Bargnani.
Lowry will be out around 10 days with a partial tricep tear, while Bargnani is out indefinitely with a ligament tear in his right elbow.
A medical source says that a torn ligament in the elbow probably means a 1-2 month absence for Bargnani.
— Eric Koreen (@ekoreen) December 13, 2012
The Raptors already buried themselves with respect to competing for a playoff spot or anything significant this season, so the injuries aren’t crippling to what they could have accomplished this year, no matter what any optimist tells you. From a competitive standpoint though, the blows likely leave Toronto – already near the bottom of the league standings at 4-19 – with one of the NBA’s worst lineups, as over the next couple of weeks, the Raps rotation probably looks like this:
PG: Calderon, Lucas
SG: DeRozan, Ross
SF: Pietrus, Anderson, Kleiza, Acy
PF: Davis, Johnson, Acy
C: Valanciunas, Johnson, Gray
Forget about how bad some other teams are and accept the fact that on most nights, the Raptors will field the vastly inferior lineup, thought 15 games under .500, you can easily make the argument that they were already doing that.
Of course, with the bad news of injuries comes the opportunity for other players to step up, and there are a number of Raptors who should be looking to seize that opportunity.
First and foremost, while I’m not happy that Bargnani is hurt since it now means that a trade involving him is unlikely to impossible, I am looking forward to watching a young frontcourt of Ed Davis and Jonas Valanciunas log extended minutes together, and you should be too. This season is already in the dumps, and while that’s an extremely disappointing reality just 23 games in, it also leaves us with no other option than to watch how Toronto’s young core develops as opposed to watching the standings.
Davis and Valanciunas looked great together in the first half against the Nets, and while Jonas slowed down in the second half and the Raptors ultimately lost for the 12th time in 13 games, the pair left us all wanting more. Davis, especially, can use this time as a starter to prove that he belongs in the Raptors’ long-term plans. A 24 and 12 performance was a nice way to start.
Jose Calderon, who reportedly wants out of town, will get the chance to start again, and as I mentioned in the pre-game thread on Wednesday, Calderon’s best stretches in the NBA have come when he’s filling in for the injured starter ahead of him on the depth charts. Jose says all of the right things to the media and in public about filling any role necessary and just doing what the team asks of him, but anyone who’s followed this team for the last few years should be able to tell that his effort level varies greatly from the starting lineup to the bench. Maybe Jose’s on the cusp of another big stretch.
DeMar DeRozan can use this time to prove that he really is a more complete player than in years past. DeRozan’s struggled in the past when guys like Bargnani are out of the lineup and defences zone in on DeMar as the team’s primary option, and we’re about to find out if he can finally handle it with both Bargnani and Lowry out. If the Raptors want a chance to steal some games over the next little while, they’ll likely need DeRozan to resemble something along the lines of a No. 1 option.
On a sidenote, Lowry’s inability to stay healthy is seriously concerning right now. He plays with a hustle and relentlessness that is both appreciated and admired by fans, and when he’s healthy and playing his game, he’s shown flashes of being an elite NBA point guard worthy of being one of the focal points of this rebuild. But as I mentioned on our last podcast, the organization should be concerned about whether he can ever stay healthy for long enough periods of time.
After missing just five of 164 games between the 2007-08 season and the 2008-09 season, Lowry missed 14 games in 2009-10, a more encouraging seven games in 2010-11, 19 out of 66 games last season and has already missed seven of 23 games this season, with more coming in the next couple of weeks.
Wednesday’s game against the Nets marked the beginning of a 30-game stretch that sees the Raptors play 20 games at home over a two month span. If the team continues to sink deeper and deeper into oblivion, I’ll be interested in seeing how the fans react in terms of attendance. The crowds have been excellent through the first eight home games of the season, including 18,847 showing up to support the 4-18 team against Brooklyn, but I wouldn’t blame people for staying away if this team is 20 games under .500 or worse in the near future. If people do continue to show up, the boo birds will probably be out in full effect on a lot of nights.
As one of the most loyal and rabid fanbases in the NBA, we really do deserve so much better this.