The Raptors went 4-0 this week with wins over the Rockets (great!), Wizards (good!), Pelicans (they have those two guys!), and Knicks (Knicks!). Other than a shoulder injury to Delon Wright — the severity of which is still unknown — it’s been all good news. Sure, Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell sat out some games, but that just meant more time for OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam. (And Norm will be back soon, I’m sure.) The Raps even found some non-garbage time play for Lorenzo Brown, a.k.a. the team’s 17th man. What a time.
So then, how are this week’s power rankings shaping up for Toronto? There were, as always, interesting stories all around the league — the Celtics have won 15 games in a row, Joel Embiid of the Sixers has come alive, the Warriors are still the Warriors, the Thunder are struggling, and more. Let’s get to it.
First up, ESPN comes in with the format change and the recurring presence of Jose De Leon, man of mystery:
5. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 6)
2017-18 record: 11-5
During their season-high four-game win streak, the Raptors have posted an NBA-best 118.1 offensive efficiency. In those four wins, Toronto has outscored its opponents by nearly 16 points per 100 possessions while shooting 53 percent from the floor.
This is correct on all counts. Credit to the world wide leader for stating the facts, plainly.
How much flavour can we squeeze into this column after that matter-of-fact start? Let’s see with the wild man of Sports Illustrated, Kenny Ducey:
4. Toronto Raptors (11–5)
Last Week: 9
Don’t let the Raptors get hot. Toronto has won four straight and Kyle Lowry is starting to look like the Kyle Lowry we all know and love.
Don’t.... don’t let them get hot? What are you suggesting here Ducey? I say let them get extremely hot, imo.
4. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 8)
Pace: 100.1 (15) OffRtg: 110.4 (3) DefRtg: 103.2 (11) NetRtg:+7.1 (4)
There have been moments of stagnation, but in general, the Raptors have adjusted pretty well and pretty quickly to their new offense. Kyle Lowry (who averaged 18.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists in their four wins last week) is figuring things out and the Raps have scored 115 points per 100 possessions as they've won six of their last seven games. DeMar DeRozan has found another way to make his anti-analytics game more efficient. He leads the league in mid-range shots for the second straight season, but has shot 50 percent on those mid-range shots, up from 39 percent over last three years. They're on the road for much of the next seven weeks, but after visiting the Knicks and Pacers this week, 10 of their next 11 games are against teams that currently have losing records.
Racks on racks on racks for the doctor. Yes indeed: Lowry is rounding into star form (his quiet game, numbers-wise, on Sunday notwithstanding), DeRozan will from now on be known as the Bucket Getter (tm). And sing it with me now: the schedule is getting easier.
Finally, what kind of dig can CBS get in there? Let’s find out.... together.
4. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 13)
The Raptors are smacking teams around right now and have won their last four games by an average of 14.3 points. They're committing to the new offense and it's resulted in the third best offense in the NBA.
OK no digs, but these are the guys who had the audacity to rank the Raps at 18 two weeks ago. Never forget.
Now, to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in the Week 5 Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, because I refuse to acknowledge the Celtics right now
Yes, we know the truth
No, I don’t like hearing about injuries
Yes, I was on vacation for the week so I’ll just have to believe all of this without asking any more questions