For nearly two decades the Toronto Raptors have been an exciting franchise to watch, despite making the postseason in just 8 of their 22 seasons of existence. However, there’s nothing that’ll take away the impactful legacies that’ll always be embedded in their team’s history.
From dunk constests to monster individual performances, the Raptors will always have those glaring monuments up north. But however, there just hasn’t been consistency with a team led by late blooming All-Stars Kyle Lowryand DeMar DeRozan, who’ve grown into a dynamic backcourt. We’ve seen DeRozan, who went on a very-historic run, beginning the 2016-17 season with a scorching-hot pace:
DeMar averaged 33.0 points on 50% in his first 11 games this year. From starting a season with three consecutive 30-point games without a 3-pointer since Kobe Bryant in ’05, to becoming just the fourth player in the last 30 years to drop 30+ to start a season. He’s just been remarkable.
I give plenty of props to the Raptors’ front-office and also Dwane Casey, for putting together a team that is feared when they win ball-games. It just hasn’t translated too far out of the regular season, as the Raptors have yet to surmount a “deep” postseason run in their franchise’s history. And despite the exclusive individual performances and team success, Toronto is still looked upon as number-two in the Eastern Conference, and we know who’s at the helm.
Could the Raptors actually knock off the Cleveland Cavaliers?
The majority will find this as a laughable discussion, but if you watched this Raptors team, they’ve been much more improved even with DeRozan thriving in his new “superstar-like” role.
THE RAPTORS RANK:
- 3rd in Points (112.3)
- 2nd in Field Goals Made (40.8) and Field Goal Percentage (47.9%)
- 3rd in Three-Point Percentage (39.7%)
- 1st in Free-Throws Made (21.2) and 2nd in Free-Throw Percentage (81.1%)
- 3rd in Steals (9.0)
- 2nd in Fewest Turnovers (11.9)
- ***HIGHEST OFFENSIVE RATING IN THE NBA AT 117.6***
I think we we can almost amend that these Raptors have been widely overlooked to begin the season. They’ve substantially been one of the best offensive teams in the game. They’re THIRD in True Shooting (58%) behind Golden State and Houston.
However, their DEFENSE has been slightly below average. They allow the third-highest percentage (43%) on shots from within 16-feet out. The Raptors are also in the bottom-half of the league in Blocks per game.
The Raptors should definitely suggest targeting an interior defender to compliment Jonas Valanciunas (Nerlens Noel!!!) to become more fearsome at the defensive end. Because with players such as Lebron James and Kyrie Irving driving at you, a help-side defender is at-least needed.
But in order to really do the unthinkable, a la defeating Cleveland, Toronto will need certain players to step-up and have some big performances. We’re talking about names such as new-Raptor Jared Sullinger, who is still yet to return to the lineup after metatarsal surgery. Another player is Terrence Ross, who’s been more than serviceable, having an excellent year shooting the ball.
Toronto just has tremendous balance from every position, and it’s been noted before. Cory Joseph, Norman Powell, Lucas Noguiera, and rookies Jakob Poetl/Pascal Siakam have all looked great.
“At the end of the day, we just go out there and play our game.” Raptors’ star Point Guard Lowry commented on his team’s success, following Wednesday’s win over Brooklyn. “We have a great group of guys, and we (Lowry, Patterson, Carroll) understand that we need to be leaders.
“Me being the oldest, it’s fun having these young guys here.”
It’s going to be a really tough battle in the Eastern Conference, before the Raptors can consider challenging the Cavaliers once again.
Can they do it?