Oh, you thought we’d forget the Power Ranking Poll? Not on your life.
It’s been a long (and exciting) few months in Toronto with the Raptors. We don’t need to rehash all of the ups and downs of the off-season — we’re here now, three games in, we know what’s up. And, as fortune would have it, our usual Power Ranking pollsters appear to know the score as well.
For the first (real) week of games, the Raptors are in at no. 1 or 2 on everyone’s list. Is it because Kawhi Leonard is a Toronto Raptor? Is it because the squad is as deep and versatile as its ever been? Is it because the Raps went 3-0 for the first week of the NBA season? Yeah, it’s probably that last one.
In any case, we are all the way back now with the first edition of the 2018-19 Power Ranking Poll. Now, let’s get to the rankings.
A major name comes in on the Raptors on behalf of ESPN, here’s Kevin Arnovitz on Toronto after Week 1:
2. Toronto Raptors (Preseason Rank: 3)
In the league’s first big statement game of the season, the Raptors showed off their depth and versatility in a spirited win over Boston. Though he hasn’t shot the ball well for the 3-0 Raps, Kawhi Leonard fits like a glove in Toronto, both as a brawny wing and as a small-ball 4. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry was one of the league’s five best players during the season’s opening week, pacing the Raps with red-hot shooting.
Everything Arnovitz says there is correct. I particularly like that he mentions Lowry’s shooting, which is some of the finest in the league. To a certain extent it’s understandable that Lowry doesn’t get as much love for his deep-range ability — it’s not as wildly flashy as, say, Steph Curry’s shot — and yet year after year, KLOE is one of the best shooters in the league. For a player who had to become as good of a shooter as Lowry now is, that’s no small thing. (Now we just need an explanation as to why the barely 2-1 Warriors are still ranked ahead of Toronto this week.)
Next up, here comes Khadrice Rollins for Sports Illustrated to let us now how the Raptors are doing:
1. Toronto Raptors (Preseason Rank: 3)
I was prepared to leave Toronto at No. 2 after pulling out the thriller against the Celtics. Then, without Kawhi, the Raptors went on the road and earned another victory on the second night of a back-to-back that they had every reason to lose. Kyle Lowry might be down a best friend, but the championship experience provided by Leonard and Danny Green will mean more than pregame handshakes come May. And through one week in October, it seems it is already paying off.
Number one in our hearts, number one for SI. As I (and many others) have said all off-season: once that ball went up, once the Raptors started winning, once it became clear they were going to be very good, Lowry would be at his best (down a best friend or not).
Now, how does the math check out for Dr. John Schuhmann at NBA dot com? [Larry David voice] Pretty, preeeeetty, pretty good.
1. Toronto Raptors (Preseason Rank: 4)
Kawhi Leonard isn’t off to the most efficient start, but had 31 points and a couple of big shots in the Raptors’ win over the Celtics, and Kyle Lowry is here to remind us that this team has more than one star. Lowry is 12-for-21 from 3-point range and made a bunch of big plays down the stretch last week, both against Boston and again in Washington on Saturday, with Leonard sitting out the second game of the back-to-back. Bench minutes haven’t been great so far, but part-time starter Serge Ibaka gave the Raptors some important second chances (eight of his 11 offensive boards have come in the fourth quarter) in both weekend games.
Schuhmann’s casual comment about the Raptors bench isn’t entirely incorrect, though it is a function of the instability around who to actually consider as part of said bench. Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka have traded spots in the rotation once; OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet feel firmly ensconced within the support unit; C.J. Miles is grappling with the GoDaddy Curse; and, of course, there’s still be no Delon Wright — who could very well be the glue for the whole thing. We’ll monitor this situation closely.
And finally, throw it up for Reid Forgrave, the new voice at CBS Sports, for his fresh take:
2. Toronto Raptors (Preseason Rank: 4)
Too early to have the Raptors’ leap-frogging the Rockets and Celtics for the best non-Warriors team in the NBA? Yeah! Probably! Probably way too early! But Kawhi Leonard looks absolutely awesome (31 points in the Raptors Friday win against the Celtics), and Kyle Lowry (28 points and 12 assists) helped the Raptors get a nice road win at Washington with Leonard resting on the second night of a back-to-back. This defense has a chance at becoming elite.
Hey, why is it too early? Come on!
Now, ah yes, let’s go to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 1 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, 3-0 and only #2? Get that garbage outta here!
Yes, the Warriors are still the sleeping giant of the league
No, despair still lurks upon the edges of my mind
Yes, and please consider voting in the municipal election