Title: Toronto Raptors Bet on Sustainable Synergy with Lowry, Patterson and Vasquez Re-signings
Date: July 14, 2014
Original Source: Nylon Calculus
Synopsis: I made my debut at the newly-launched basketball analytics site Nylon Calculus, writing about the Toronto Raptors doubling down on their surprising 2013-14 success.
Everything just clicked. That’s probably the best way to describe what happened to the Toronto Raptors following the Dec. 9 trade of Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, a seven-player deal that brought back Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson. The previously 6-12, mediocre Raptors team (that had gone 18-18 late the year before with largely the same core) turned a major corner, going 42-22 the rest of the way for the franchise’ first playoff berth since 2008. It was an odd change, given that many assume the team that gets the best player in a trade — in this case, Rudy Gay — does best, and because many thought this was Step Two (what’s up, Andrea Bargnani?) in a major tear down for a proper, ground-up rebuilding under new general manager Masai Ujiri. But things clicked, and Ujiri rolled with it, opting to sit back and evaluate rather than continue with what may or may not have ever actually been a plan to burn it all down.
This offseason, his first proper summer at the helm for the Raptors, Ujiri opted to continue rolling with that same group. Kyle Lowry got four years and $48 million, Patrick Patterson got three years and $18 million, Greivis Vasquez got two years and $13 million, and the only changes noticeable in the rotation have come at the fringes, where James Johnson and Lou Williams will replace Steve Novak and Nando De Colo, respectively.
The primary rotation is largely unchanged.lineups From a wide angle, this was an obvious move. A city that has struggled to maintain a consistent enthusiasm for the team (beyond an incredible, vocal, online minority) got behind a team that played with an identity that was easy to buy into — with a marketing campaign focused on othering, this is a group of underdogs, players who had bounced between homes or were thought to be underappreciated on a league-wide scale. The whole was greater than the sum of the parts, and the change in style of play, especially on the offensive end, was aesthetically pleasing.
Continue reading at Nylon Calculus.