The Raptors are still debating whether or not they have “it.”
This is a statement I hate to make, summoning to mind past playoff defeats and Paul Pierce, but I must continue. It’s not as though the players on the team are currently debating who or what it is, or who has it (or doesn’t have it), but it is definitely in their minds somewhere, scratching at their psyche, and overall ruining the good vibes of the squad. Toronto deserves better!
The Raptors are still a very good basketball team. But because they don’t employ one of a handful of absolutely insane high profile shot-makers in the league, people question their legitimacy. When coupled with the team’s reliance on running the same tired 1-2 pick-and-roll schemes in the dying seconds, or just handing the ball to DeMar DeRozan and getting out of the way, we’ve still got to hear shit about this “it.” I wish I could tell you different.
The situation is better today than it was five years ago, three years ago, one year ago — DeRozan is an elite shot taker, Kyle Lowry is ferocious (if a bit jumpy), and the young roster is learning. But until the Raptors get to the playoffs and exert some sort of control over their destiny, this is just how it has to be.
Let’s get to this week’s Power Rankings instead of dwelling on it. Here we go.
First up, man-made machine Jose De Leon at ESPN provides some fascinating insight:
4. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
Kyle Lowry became the third Raptor to be named an All-Star in four straight seasons, joining Chris Bosh and Vince Carter (both five straight). Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have been named All-Stars each of the past three seasons; the only other teammates named All-Stars in each of the past three seasons are Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
This is some Perd Hapley-level of analysis. Yes, thank you for taking the time to read the Basketball Reference page for these things and printing out the facts of reality. Salute.
Next up, back and on time this week, it’s Kenny Ducey at Sports Illustrated with some, uh, thoughts?
5. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
What’s gotten into Jonas Valanciunas? He’s getting into fights now? He’s hitting threes? He’s blocking shots? He may single-handedly pique my interest in the Raptors.
You know what, maybe Ducey should go back on vacation.
In third, but also making us whole, here’s Dr. John Schuhmann of the main site of the NBA with his clean analysis.
4. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
Pace: 100.8 (9) OffRtg: 109.5 (5) DefRtg: 102.7 (3) NetRtg:+6.8 (3)
Kyle Lowry has shot 10-for-36 since being named an All-Star reserve on Tuesday and the Raptors’ perimeter shooting was again a problem in a roller-coaster loss to Utah on Friday. But it was good enough against the Lakers on Sunday (with eight different Raptors making threes) to send the coaching staff to the All-Star Game too. With the Raptors still unable to get past the Celtics in the standings (though getting the No. 1 seed is a stated goal), Dwane Casey benefits from the rule that says a team can’t send its coach to the All-Star Game two years in a row. But Casey will take the East’s best record over the last five seasons with him to L.A., where he’ll coach against Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and have his Team LeBron defense load up against his stars to get them ready for the playoffs.
Yeah, fine, maybe some of those numbers are a problem. But you can’t argue with the results can you? (Answer: yes, OK, sure, you could probably argue with the results too. You know what, let’s move on.)
And finally, what’s up CBS Sports and what you got Chris Barnewall?
6. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 6)
The Raptors are beating teams so convincingly this season that an early season flaw still exists within them. It’s one they’ve managed to hide quite well. When the Raps get into close games late, they fall back to their old offense from previous seasons that has failed them time and time again. This is going to be a concern come playoff time.
Oof, I see how it is.
My only wonder is, really, this: if, let’s say, the Raptors found themselves in a tough spot down one, with seconds on the clock. And in this hypothetical, just spit-balling here, Toronto inbounded the ball to DeMar DeRozan. And sure, in this case, he got to one of his preferred spots (or any decent enough spot) and he hit the shot he took, would we... would we still be talking about this?
Really makes you think.
Now, let’s go to the poll.
Are the Toronto Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 15 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, it is clearly a conspiracy
Yes, it is clearly not a conspiracy
No, it is clearly a conspiracy but not in the way you’re thinking, normie
Yes, it is clearly not a conspiracy and I can’t believe that SI guy is just learning about Jonas Valanciunas now