Holly Mackenzie (right) interviewing Raptor's shooting guard DeMar DeRozan after a USA Basketball practice. (@stackmack/Instagram)

Holly Mackenzie interviews Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who is leading the league in drives to the basket this season (@stackmack/Instagram).

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Toronto will be hosting the NBA’s All-Star Weekend this season, and the timing could not be better. Just a tad more than 20 years since NBA basketball came to Toronto, the Raptors find themselves in second place in a competitive Eastern Conference. DeMar DeRozan is playing the most efficient basketball of his career, while his BFF, Kyle Lowry, is similarly turning in an All-Star-caliber season. We have the pleasure of being joined by the talented Holly MacKenzie, who expertly explains why life is so good in Toronto these days. Holly writes for Raptors.com, among many other outlets.

Some scintillating excerpts can be found below:

9:35-10:50: “Everything starts with [Kyle Lowry]. He does so much for them and the way that he plays, he’s such a competitive guy, it’s hard to not feed off of that… It’s cool to see his growth as a player, but also as a leader from when he came here to now. Seeing him know his teammates and learn how each guy can be motivated, watching him learn how to do that has been really cool to watch because you see the impact on the floor and you also see it within the locker room.”

12:40-13:30: “The thing that was interesting to hear [DeMarre Carroll] say was that sometimes [the media] won’t understand trying to play through something. He was saying how much he hated sitting and he was trying to play through various injuries throughout the first half of the season. So when he was asked if he felt like the fans had gotten a chance to see what he could do or if he even had a chance to do all of the things that he thought that he could do or bring to the team, [he said] he didn’t get a chance to do that.”

15:05-16:00: “I thought that team would miss Lou [Williams] more than what they have… But I think they have done a good job on both ends of the floor. While they’ve improved defensively, their offense has still been really good and they’re finding guys to score. Patrick Patterson has been really up and down especially on the offensive end, but he’s doing other things while he’s out there. Luis Scola came here, no one expected him to win a starting position, he’s kept it. Cory Joseph has been great. I really think the team wanted to get better defensively and they targeted defensive players, but at the same time other guys have had to fill bigger roles offensively and it’s really worked out for them so far.”

19:15-20:50: “Obviously a lot was made of the extension that [Terrence Ross] signed earlier this year and I think with him, the thing is when you have a guy that’s that young and that talented and has shown it in glimpses, the decision you make sometimes isn’t what you’re paying for now, it’s if you’re going to pay for the potential of what you think the player could be and if you’re going to bet on that, and the team did. I know that a lot of people want him to be so much more because they just see this crazy athlete who can do these amazing things that each of us wish we could do just once in our life, just to feel what it would feel like to fly… I’m curious to see if this is the type of player he’s always going to be or if something crazy happens and suddenly he’s dropping 20 points a game.”

23:15-24:00: “The players seem to really like [head coach Dwane Casey] and really respect that he’s honest with them. One thing with Casey is that he’s very big on players knowing their role, to the extent that when the season starts, he gives them a role card that literally says what their role is on the team and what is expected of them and what their teammates are going to need from that player for this to work… He always says that they have their role cards, no one can ever say that they don’t know what we’re asking of them, and I think the players like that he’s just really straight up like that.”

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod