Do you realize there are Toronto sports fans, young kids of the eight, 12, 14-year-old variety, who have never been consciously aware of a poorly run Raptors franchise? Think about that for a second. They maybe took up watching the team before puberty hits and have watched for four years as the team has done nothing but make shrewd moves and improve on the court. Every player is likeable. The NBA Draft is a source of excitement, not dread. The playoffs? Guaranteed.
They do not know of the hardship and pain of Raptors fandom. And frankly, I would not wish it upon them. Let these children of Masai grow in the shade of his organizational genius. Let them hear the tough yet inspirational words of Dwane Casey. Let them consider the smooth-as-hell moves of DeMar DeRozan. Now, let us pray — and get to this week’s Power Ranking Poll. Amen.
We lead off as per usual with Marc Stein of ESPN who’s got something to say:
4. Toronto Raptors
2016-17 record: 7-2
Previous ranking: 6
We seem to say it every week, but that summer with Team USA has clearly hiked DeMar DeRozan's confidence to new levels. DeRozan, who's still leading the NBA in scoring, just became the first player since Michael Jordan in 1986-87 to notch at least 30 points in eight of the first nine games of the season. A serious question, by the way, for Raptors Nation: Isn't there a part of you that wishes, like us, that the whole Toronto Huskies look was more than a one-night thing?
Oh Marc... Marc, what are you doing? No, the Huskies name is not a good idea. It’s a throwback to a franchise that died in its first year of existence, it’s a terrible word to chant and cheer, and most importantly: the Raptors are finally, regularly good. Can we just enjoy that for a second?
We turn now to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated (dot com) to confirm what we already know:
6. Toronto Raptors (7–2)
Last Week: 5
Net Rating: +6.7
The most impressive thing about DeMar DeRozan leading the league in scoring with 34 per game—other than the fact it’s happening—is that he’s made three three-pointers this season to boot.
Did you hear? DeRozan is killing it? Book it as a fact for the rest of the year. You’ll live in a more comfortable place of peace and tranquillity (and mid-range jumpers).
Perhaps our Power Rankings Dad, Dr. John Schuhmann of NBA.com, will illuminate something new. Let’s see:
4) Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 7)
Pace: 96.7 (25) OffRtg: 109.2 (5) DefRtg: 102.4 (12) NetRtg: +6.7 (6)
DeMar DeRozan continues his remarkable run, leading the league with 34.0 points per game, having made just three 3-pointers total. He's shooting a remarkable 53 percent between the restricted area and the arc (where the league average is 40 percent). The Raptors aren't getting consistent offense from anywhere else, but are suddenly getting a big contribution from Lucas Nogueira (aka "Bebe") off the bench. He closed each of their three wins last week (including two impressive ones on the road) and had two huge blocks against the Knicks on Saturday.
Let’s see, nope, more DeRozan, more talk about his efficiency, more talk about a lack of threes, but wait, what’s this??? A Bebe sighting! I would love to be a fly on the wall as Schuhmann sat back and considered the footage of Nogueira skying in to block Carmelo Anthony late in the fourth quarter. What a world.
Finally, a shattered nation turns to Matt Moore of CBS Sports:
4) Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 8)
DeMar DeRozan's run right now is flat out incredible, and a blast to watch. The key, though, is that the Raptors are good enough to not need this outlier performance from DeRozan to be the second best team in the East.
When you’ve got Moore on-side with the DeRozan praise, you know you’ve made it.
Now, let’s head to the poll.