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Power Rankings Poll Week 11: Happy New Year, Raptors!

The Raptors started 2018 at 0-0, but have a whole host of history behind them. Ergo: the Power Rankings are here to sort it all out.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve never seen 1982’s The Thing, the John Carpenter-directed classic starring Kurt Russell, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a creepy, scary, lean and mean horror film — and bonus points: it works as a malleable metaphor for many an idea, no matter the year. Happy 2018, by the way.

In The Thing a bunch of dudes are trapped in Antarctica with a shape-shifting alien that is slowly picking them off one by one. Trapped together, the men must work as a team to defeat the creature, but they don’t exactly know who to trust among their number. Naturally, tension mounts as it becomes clear the survival of the crew (and the entire world?) is at stake.

A lot of things in 2017 were bad — we don’t need to list off details here — but at the root of it all was this inescapable feeling of dread, like somehow we were collectively zooming past some point of no return. It was not a great feeling — being quote unquote trapped with or suspicious of your fellow humans never is. Flipping the calendar to 2018 doesn’t necessarily solve this problem, but it does offer the chance at a mental fresh start.

Unfortunately, watching the Raptors play basketball is but a minor salve to the issues of the day. (Even when DeMar DeRozan goes off for 52.) It can, however, offer a reprieve, a respite, a chance to marvel at and celebrate with our neighbours. That’s not nothing. The Thing is a grim film, but its implications need not mutate into every corner of our world. We can bond together and fight back. We can believe that’s something better is possible.

So with that, I say Happy new year. And now, let’s go to the rankings for the first time in 2018.

First up is the efficient Vincent Johnson of ESPN, who is definitely the doomed Fuchs in this scenario, with his take on the Raptors:

6. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)

While you were watching the College Football Playoff on Monday, DeMar DeRozan became the first player in NBA history to score 50 points on New Year's Day, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He set a franchise record with 52 points and the most-improved part of his game shined through: his passing. DeRozan dished out eight assists to bring his points scored and assisted total to 71 points, more than half the Raptors' total points (131) in the overtime win.

Like Fuchs, ESPN’s Johnson has an unnerving desire to report on some truly momentous happenings (e.g. a scoring explosion, or a marauding alien life form). With matter of fact language, both do their best to fend of the thrilling excitement inherent to the work. And, ultimately, we don’t exactly know what happens to either of them.

(Also, holy hell, DeMar DeRozan!)

Next up, the wishful thinking of Kenny Ducey at Sports Illustrated, who strikes me as something of a Palmer-like figure:

4. Toronto Raptors (24–10)

Last Week: 4

Find a scorer on the bench. Whether it happens to be Fred VanVleet, CJ Miles, Norm Powell...hell, it could be Jakob Poeltl. Someone needs to score consistently on that bench!​

Ducey is just laughing, chilling, and ripping off one liners (this time about what the Raptors need in the new year), before possibly turning into a monster. Yikes.

Third is, as always, the Wilford Brimley-esque Dr. John Schuhmann at the NBA home base:

3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 1)

Record: 24-10

Pace: 100.6 (10) OffRtg: 109.9 (5) DefRtg: 102.3 (5) NetRtg:+7.6 (3)

The Raptors stumbled on the road last week, with DeMar DeRozan (7-for-32) and Kyle Lowry (9-for-27) going cold in Dallas and Oklahoma City. Their January schedule will be much tougher than their December schedule in regard to opponent strength, but seven of their nine January games against teams that are currently over .500 will be at home, where the Raps are 13-1, with the bigger difference between the Home Raptors and the Road Raptors being on defense. Friday's game in Milwaukee is one of the two exceptions and Wednesday's game in Chicago is tougher than the Bulls' overall record would indicate. Toronto is 4-7 against teams currently over .500, 2-1 at home and 2-6 on the road.

This one is self-explanatory. I’d trust Schuhmann to be coolly competent at the outset of a crisis. But I’d also worry about him becoming wildly aggressive in the face of the overwhelming wall of information said crisis portends. That’s Dr. Blair all over.

And finally, Chris Barnewall of CBS Sports flies in like a gun-toting Norwegian in a helicopter:

4. Raptors (Last Week: 1)

Typical of the Raptors to follow up their week at No. 1 with a blowout loss to the Thunder. As great as they've been this season, moments like that raise the question of whether they can hang with the elite. On the plus side, DeMar DeRozan broke Vince Carter's franchise scoring record this week with 52 points against the Bucks, and that's really cool.

The future remains worrying sometimes, even with a respite on a day like today.

Finally, as much as you maybe want to convince yourself otherwise, we’re still in this together. And to quote Kurt Russell’s MacReady: “Why don't we just... wait here for a little while... see what happens?”

Now, on to the poll.

Poll

Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 11 of the Power Rankings?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    No, I am also like Wilford Brimley’s Dr. Blair; I insist I am right!
    (34 votes)
  • 56%
    Yes, more of a pragmatic MacReady here, just getting through the week
    (144 votes)
  • 7%
    No, much like Captain Garry, I won’t admit the truth
    (20 votes)
  • 22%
    Yes, I’m Keith David and I do not need this shit
    (58 votes)
256 votes total Vote Now