It’s so easy to forget the hard times (e.g. a give-away loss to the Clippers), when the Raptors are ranked third in the league in Net Rating, the bench’s little brother Delon Wright returns, and the team wins three games in a row. I don’t want to overuse this sentiment, but it leads to a lot of fun and good times.
The Raptors are still underdogs though. Can you believe that? Despite all the good vibes, they are still a self-acknowledged step behind the true titans of the league — the Warriors, the Cavaliers, and, sure, let’s add the Rockets in there too. (Though the jury is still out on whether the good times there will last.)
If it’s not already clear, I have more belief in the Raptors than most. Not just because I run this site, but because I do believe there’s a potent combination of talent, perseverance, energy, and vision at play here. Toronto has slowly and steadily built itself up — and the team isn’t done yet, even if some would write them off already. (That we officially gave Vince Carter a viking funeral on Sunday is a nice poetic touch to everything too.)
Now, let’s get to this week’s power rankings to figure out who exactly is saying what about Toronto.
First up, a grand return at ESPN as Jose De Leon once again graces the Raptors with a small write-up.
6. Toronto Raptors
2017-18 record: 20-8 (Last Week: 6)
The Raptors have had a different approach to their offense this season. Just 11 percent of their points are coming from midrange and 30 percent of their points are coming off 3-pointers. Last season, 16 percent of their points came from midrange and only 25 percent of their points came off 3s.
Let’s hand it to De Leon (which means, Of Leon, by the way) for this astute mathematical assessment. Five whole percentage points have shifted, and while almost all of that can likely be attributed to more astute passing from DeMar DeRozan (the midrange king) out to open shooters, it is... uh... five whole percent. Party on.
Next up, the dude at SI, Kenny Ducey, rips and runs on the Raptors:
5. Toronto Raptors (20–8) (Last Week: 6)
The only thing concerning me at this point about Toronto is its bench—how much offense will they be able to pull out of Fred VanVleet, Norm Powell and Delon Wright?
Et tu, Kenny?
(Admittedly, he’s not wrong. It feels unlikely that all three of FVV, Norm, and Delon will share the court at the same time in the post-season. There’s just not enough offensive firepower there without one of Kyle Lowry or DeRozan out there to create some open space.)
But we wait not for more deliberations, get on with it doctor! Here’s John Schuhmann, Phd from NBA.com:
5. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 5)
Pace: 100.3 (10) OffRtg: 110.6 (4) DefRtg: 102.2 (6) NetRtg:+8.4 (3)
The Raptors would be on a 10-game winning streak if they didn't blow a seven-point lead in the last 6:05 in L.A. on Monday. Their young bench had some issues at the end of their road trip (keeping both the Clippers game and Wednesday's game in Phoenix too close for comfort), but got a boost over the weekend with the return of Delon Wright from a month-long absence. Jonas Valanciunas has had some big games of late and has actually played in the fourth quarter in three of the last four. Though the strength of their opponents remains mediocre for the rest of the month, the Raptors do have two back-to-backs in the next 10 days, starting with games at Charlotte and Philadelphia on Wednesday and Thursday.
I don’t want to belabour the point here (since we’re fully into the Fun and Good era of the Raptors), but yeah, that Clips loss sucked. Still, the rest of these statements from the good doctor are right on the money.
And finally, we give voice to Chris Barnewall at CBS Sports:
4. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 6)
It's just hard to get around how different they look and feel this time around. The playoffs are what really matters at this point for a team that's been good year after year, but it's hard to not get excited watching them beat the pants off of everybody in the regular season.
That great sentiment aside, allow me the luxury of this space to give a hat tip to HP Basketball, our old nemesis Matt Moore, as he moves on to his next thing. Godspeed to all my power rankers out there.
Now, on to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 9 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, didn’t you see The Last Jedi? Never underestimate the underdog!
Yes, fine, fine, yes we’re not as good as the Warriors or the Cavaliers. Whatever.
No, there is only more heartbreak to come, folks.
Yes, to answer your previous question, I did enjoy The Last Jedi, thank you very much