Raps Are Still Among the NBA's Elite
The first half of the NBA season has been quite an interesting one for the Dinos. The perceived expectations for the Raptors heading into the season were low due to the departure of Kawhi Leonard, but the Raptors have proven that they can win without him and find themselves second in the East heading into the All-Star weekend. Only two teams have bested Toronto record wise; the LA Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks. That's good company to keep.
Pascal Siakam has become the new face of the franchise and was named to his first All-Star game, making it the 5th straight season Toronto has been represented at the All-Star game. The fourth year player has excelled, averaging close to 24 points, and over 7 boards. He’s also been a marketing machine releasing his own hot sauce. He's had an incredible season so far and the Raptors have to be quite relieved of his progression.
The Raptors depth has become one of the strongest in the NBA despite their injuries, tallying the 5th most games lost due to injuries. They have the best record amongst teams with the highest man games lost and a lot of credit has to go to guys like Terrence Davis, and former G-League MVP Chris Boucher. The latter has shown he has great chemistry with both VanVleet and Lowry when on the court.
The Raptors were a good shooting team last year and they've continued that trend so far this year, and the addition of Matt Thomas has only strengthend their shooting depth. Even their defence has remained in the upper echelon of the league allowing the 4th fewest points al season. The Raps possess the ability to lock you down and shoot you out of the gym.
The only achilles the Raps have shown so far this season are their struggles against teams over .500. This can be attributed to injuries, but it's been a concerning trend, however coming off a 15-game winning streak no one can be all that upset. The good news is they've destroyed teams under .500 going 31-3 against struggling teams.
The Raptors are one of the best teams in the East, they look much tougher to play against this season. Not having Kawhi hasn't hindered the team, if anything it has ignited a stronger fire. Nick Nurse has become one of the smartest coaches in the league. His player rotations are excellent, his system is tailor made for this team, and his defensive schemes have made good teams look average.
Toronto's mentality is simple, they want to repeat, and even though the American media continues to sleep on them, the Raptors they don't mind proving everybody wrong again.