DeMar DeRozan is the Toronto Raptors best player this season, but he isn’t the Raptors most valuable player.
“Wait, that doesn’t seem to make sense. Isn’t the best player always the MVP?”
Kyle Lowry is the Raptors most valuable player. There are many reasons for this, but the major one being is if you remove Lowry from the Raptors the Raptors would lose more games than if you removed DeRozan. DeRozan’s box plus/minus (BPM) is 2.3 and his value over replacement player (VORP) is 0.6. Well, the Raptors have some nice wing players in Norman Powell (0.1 BPM, 0.1 VORP), Terrence Ross (1.8 BPM, 0.3 VORP), and DeMarre Carroll (1.1 BPM, 0.2 VORP). Even though Carroll started the season slow he’s starting to get into a rhythm. So there is definitely some depth behind DeRozan.
Is there depth behind Lowry?
The Raptors have some other point guards on the team in Cory Joseph, Fred VanVleet, and Delon Wright. VanVleet got the last roster spot on the team and isn’t expected to play unless something were to happen to Lowry or Joseph. Wright is currently hurt and doesn’t have many NBA minutes under his belt. He could become a very good backup point guard, but we really don’t know at this stage. Joseph isn’t a playmaker and has made the Raptors look deplorable at times because the ball doesn’t get to an ideal place in the offense. Joseph’s box plus/minus (BPM) is -1.5 and his value over replacement player (VORP) is 0. Even with Lowry’s slow start to the season, his BPM is 3.1 and his VORP is 0.7. If you were to cut Lowry out of the rotation and split the point guard minutes between Joseph and VanVleet this team isn’t winning games. There may be depth in terms of bodies behind Lowry, but there isn’t a great deal of talent. “DeMar DeRozan is averaging roughly 30PPG, 5RPG, 4APG, and shooting the basketball insanely well. Lowry’s isn’t shooting the basketball well and you want to call him the Raptors MVP?” Lowry’s three-point shooting is down roughly 5% which isn’t great, but aside from that he’s the same beast of a player he was last year (prior to getting injured).
Are the Raptors a lock to have at least two all-stars again?
DeRozan is virtually a lock to be an all-star, unless something weird happens. Lowry is certainly not a lock because there are so many good point guards. Kemba Walker, John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, and even Jeff Teague are Lowry’s competition. It’s unlikely that more than four point guards will make the eastern all-star team and it might only be three. Does Lowry get all of Canada behind him again to vote him in? If not there’s probably only about a 50% chance he gets in.
“Okay you won’t admit DeRozan is the Raptors MVP, but you say he’s a lock to make the all-star team. Do you agree he is the greatest Raptor of all-time?”
Giving DeRozan the “greatest Raptor of all-time tag” based on 16 games this season is ludicrous. He’s probably one of the most likeable stars the Raptors have had because of his loyalty, but based on what he has done with his NBA career up to this point, no. DeRozan still has the potential to claim the crown (or claw) of greatest Raptor because he’s just entering his prime now. The greatest Raptor has to be Vince Carter. You can have personal dislike for him, but he put basketball on the map in Toronto and is a clear-cut future hall of famer.
DeRozan is playing great this season and is probably a top 10 NBA player right now. Without him the Raptors wouldn’t be a great team, but they also wouldn’t be horrible. Without Kyle Lowry the Raptors would likely be one of the worst teams in the NBA because you cannot win many games in the NBA if your only healthy point guards are Cory Joseph and Fred VanVleet. Kyle Lowry is the Raptors most valuable player whether you like it or not. This Raptors MVP will likely be a free agent this summer and it will be interesting to see what kind of contract the Raptors offer him.