It’s never a good thing for a team’s best player to say he’s “starting to get worried.” Sure, the fans can worry, the broadcasters can worry, the reporters can worry, but please, not the best player. Nevertheless, Kyle Lowry did say it, the Raptors keep losing, and here we are. Earlier today, the Raps trotted out after shootaround to douse some water on the fires ignited by Lowry’s statements, but I’m here to tell you: the worry has not dissipated.
Where then does that leave us for the Power Rankings? As you can expect, the situation is a tad grim. After a couple of months spent in the league’s top 5, Toronto continues to tumble out of the top 10 and the questions around the team’s future success keep getting louder and louder. We tiptoe into the Power Rankings this week with much trepidation.
Let’s begin with everyone’s favourite kindly uncle, Marc Stein of ESPN:
12. Toronto Raptors
2016-17 record: 32-23
Previous ranking: 11
The Raptors were ranked No. 1 in the league in offensive efficiency, even ahead of the mighty Warriors, through Jan. 17. But they've been a bottom-10 team in the month since (No. 23 to be exact) and have dropped 10 of 14 to grease their slide to No. 4 in the East. (Amazingly, though, Toronto is actually favored by ESPN's Basketball Index in all but two of its remaining 27 games this season.) We touched on this last week and nothing has changed in the interim: DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are bound for New Orleans and a (presumably) fun dose of distraction at All-Star Weekend festivities, but the prime curiosity emanating from north of the border is what Toronto plans to do in the 10 days before the trade buzzer sounds. Do the Raps make a move for Serge Ibaka? For Danilo Gallinari? Someone else?
There are two things I’d like to highlight here. One, the Raptors are still favoured to beat teams. They have the personnel and ability to be a good team. It is right there. Two, the trade talk is not going to go away.
How about poor demoralized Jeremy Woo of SI, surely he’s got some feelings:
12. Toronto Raptors (32–23)
Last Week: 12
Net Rating: 5.3
These Serge Ibaka-to-Toronto rumors have me intrigued, but the Raptors tend to hate trading anything of substance, so there’s also that. Regardless, the way the past month has gone, now seems like the time to switch some stuff up, one way or another.
Hmmm, more trade talk. Woo doesn’t give anything away here but does tow the party line: the Raptors need to do something to change things up. Who knows what that even means now.
Facts and numbers get beamed to us each week by Dr. John Schuhmann of NBA.com. Here is his wisdom:
11. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 12)
Pace: 97.6 (22) OffRtg: 111.5 (2) DefRtg: 106.2 (18) NetRtg: +5.3 (5)
A month and a half ago, it was thought that the Raptors needed an upgrade from Patrick Patterson. Right now, it would help just to have Patterson (one of their most important defenders) himself. Their offense has dropped off a lot more than their defense as they've lost 10 of their last 14 games. DeMar DeRozan missed seven of the 14, but regression on that end of the floor was inevitable and would be easier to deal with if they could start climbing the rankings on the other end of the floor. They've played a lot more bottom-10 offenses (seven) than top-10 offenses (three) over those 14 games, and they allowed the Wolves and Pistons to shoot 56 percent in the fourth quarter as they blew double-digit leads on Wednesday and Sunday.
Raptors still rank 2nd in OffRtg (by a hair over HOU), but yeah, those first 41 games probably weren't sustainable. pic.twitter.com/IgiRIezqqo— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) February 13, 2017
Schuhmann, oddly enough, has the Raptors up this week. He also has a lot of numbers to report while acknowledging the much felt absence of Patterson. What Schuhmann doesn’t provide? Answers. (Also, here comes that word “sustainable.” Blargh.)
We leave that to Matt Moore of CBS Sports, bad boy of basketball blogging:
17. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 15)
Please wave to the Raptors on their way down in freefall. Don't try and catch them, they'll just pull you down with them. The panic is real.