With the Golden State Warriors taking on the Toronto Raptors today (tip off 4:00 p.m PT), the Warriors World staff as well as Sam Holako of Raptors Republic, the Toronto Raptors ESPN TrueHoop Affiliate blog, answered some questions in this installment of 3-on-3.
1. Stephen Curry or Kyle Lowry?
Jack Winter, Warriors World: Curry. Coming into this season this question would have posed a more difficult answer, what with Curry missing the last two months of 2012 due to those nagging ankle issues and Lowry seemingly primed for his biggest season under the tutelage of Dwayne Casey. But then the games started and the trajectory of their careers have gone in opposite directions. Look at it this way – one player is universally regarded as the league biggest All-Star snub, and the other lost his starting job to a past-his-prime Jose Calderon. Enough said.
Jordan Ramirez, Warriors World: This was a hot debate last season with Stephen Curry hurt and Kyle Lowry flourishing (when he was on the floor). What a difference a year makes. While Lowry is still a very capable player and fine point guard, he’s oft injured and is having a mediocre season in Toronto amidst injuries and lack of talent around him. Meanwhile, Curry has had an All-Star level season, putting up career numbers and adopting his role as leader of an impressive 26-17 team. This isn’t close, and because of the additional injuries to Lowry this is no longer an injury prone vs. healthy player debate. Lowry is nowhere near the shooter that Curry is, but Lowry is a brute and is more willing to drive to the basket than Curry at the moment. Also, Lowry is the slightly better on ball defender than Curry. They both have their positives, but Curry’s positives outweigh Lowry’s by a mile, especially in the middle of his career season.
Sam Holako, Raptors Republic: If you’re asking who would I want to build a franchise around, then Curry; if you’re looking for a guy who seems like a better idea than he actually is (he’s been traded what, 34 times since Memphis drafted him?), Lowry.
2. Klay Thompson or DeMar DeRozan?
Jack Winter: Thompson, but that answer is more related to a case of fit and present circumstance than a referendum on the play – positive or negative – of either guy. DeRozan is badly miscast as a first option in Toronto, and despite some noticeable improvement to his game this season that will always be the case. He’s not surrounded by the cast of talented veterans that Thompson is, and it’s hurting his game and overall development. Thompson, while not breaking out the way so many expected him to, is a perfect fit offensively alongside Curry in the Warriors backcourt and is really coming along as a defender. When in doubt, go with the younger, more efficient player with superior structure around him; that’s Thompson.
Jordan Ramirez: DeMar DeRozan is easily playing the better basketball as of late. DeRozan has become the leader of the 16-28 Toronto Raptors and has played well following his four-year, $40 million extension signed this summer. Meanwhile, Thompson has struggled in his second season after impressing many during his Tank-laden rookie season. DeRozan is in his fourth season while Thompson is only in his second, so this is a slightly unfair debate, but right now the answer is DeRozan. If Thompson decides to drive to the basket more, learn to pump fake, make smarter passes and limit the fouls than he can easily surpass DeRozan in terms of overall play. With that said, Thompson’s ceiling is still very high and being on his rookie deal still will make him a viable trade chip in the coming years.
Sam Holako: Ok, no this is more like it…while Klay is a shooting guard who can actually shoot (and fits so nice on the Warriors from my limited observations), DeRozan still has much more upside and athleticism. I guess it depends on what type of player you need for your system, but if the Warriors offered me Klay straight up for DeRozan, I’d have to say no.
3. Most important injured player: Andrew Bogut or Andrea Bargnani?
Jack Winter: Push, but for totally different reasons. Bargnani’s absence has allowed extra playing time for the thriving Ed Davis and rookie Jonas Valanciunas, and the Raptors will be far better off in the long-run because of it. Once it was clear Toronto wasn’t playoff bound this season, the development of their core youngsters became the organization’s chief concern; no pressure to play Bargnani only helps that cause. Meanwhile, the addition of Bogut to the Golden State lineup looms as perhaps the season’s biggest remaining question mark. If the former All-NBA Third Team member lives up to that esteemed billing whenever he returns, the Warriors could go from thorn to knife in the side of the West’s upper-echelon.
Jordan Ramirez: Andrew Bogut. If he comes back at or near the player we was before the injuries his addition to this team will pay huge dividends now and in the playoffs. The center position isn’t a problem, but it’s also not helping much. Ezeli is a fine defensive player but he’s not in the same class as Bogut on the offensive end. Bogut, along with his defensive and rebounding abilities, can pass and create his own shot in the post. A career 52% shooter, the Warriors will not be playing 4-on-5 on the offensive end like they have been doing with Ezeli and Andris Biedrins. The Warriors are getting by so far without him, but come playoff time a formidable force will be needed against the powerful Western Conference frontcourts, Bogut can be just that.
Sam Holako: Bargnani by a mile, but not why you’d think: Bargnani’s injury has been a boon for the Raptors who have thrived in his absence. Ed Davis has received extended minutes since Bargnani went down, and has been in beast mode for most them. Along with Amir Johnson, the two are displaying great chemistry and synergy in the front court. I just know things will get ruined when Bargnani comes back from injury…fml…