At this rate, the Raptors appear hellbent on making one thing absolutely, positively clear: they will not brook any Power Rankings bullshit. At 12-1, riding a six-game win streak, and looking (casually!) like the best team in the Eastern Conference, why not? Why shouldn’t they feel this way?
There are reasons to be concerned, of course. The Raptors have been an historically good team during the regular season (for the past five years), and then given way in the playoffs. Sure, yes, feel nervous about that. Their immediate rivals are improving, some through dramatic trades for Jimmy Butler, of which remain nonplussed. And dudes like Giannis on the Bucks are rightfully ticked off about constant outs in the first and second round — I admit, I’m a bit rattled about that one.
Still, the Raptors remain the Raptors, and they don’t have to explain their confidence to anyone: they can just live it.
So let’s see what the Power Rankers have to say of Toronto today.
First up, ESPN hauls Kevin Arnovitz back on the carpet to explain all this Raptors up-and-down:
1. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 2)
It was an undefeated week for the 12-1 Raptors, who haven’t won a game by fewer than seven points since the first week of the season. One among many promising notes for Toronto: No matter which combination of forwards and big men head coach Nick Nurse assembles around Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, the Raps are decimating the competition. No other three-man unit in the league with more than 200 minutes has outperformed this Raps’ winning trio.
A certified genius, a basketball machine, and the perfect compliment to the former two. Does that breed success? I’m no fortune teller or math whiz, but truly I tell you: yes, I could have foreseen this.
Surely Sports Illustrated’s Khadrice Rollins, a long-time booster, will have something to add:
1. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 2)
The league’s second-highest shooting percentage and third-highest scoring offense belong to Toronto.
The addition of Kawhi Leonard is what gives this team such a great shot to get out the East. The evolution of Kyle Lowry and the bench, however, is what gives the Raptors a real chance at bringing home the title. In addition to Lowry and Leonard, there are four other Raptors averaging at least 10 points a game, and Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby are just a tick below that mark. Pascal Siakam’s major jump has been another key factor in this early-season showing. It’s a shame you can’t win titles in November.
Shooting well, shooting efficiently, moving the ball to six, seven, eight other players who can score. Oh yeah, and this doesn’t even mention the Raptors’ defense — or put a name to Siakam’s eventual All-Star campaign. Too soon? Who wouldn’t want to watch Pascal fly around the court in an exhibition game designed to entertain? Come on!
Fine, let’s settle things down with the help, as always, of Dr. John Schuhmann at NBA dot com:
1. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
The Raptors cruised through a 4-0 trip out West (none of the wins were within five points in the last five minutes) and took care of business against the Knicks on Saturday afternoon. Pascal Siakam has begun to realize his potential to become an every-day problem for Toronto opponents. He’s averaged 17.6 points on 68 percent shooting over the last seven games (highlighted by a career-high 23 points on Saturday), doing a lot more than just playing off the Raptors’ two All-Stars. He was torching the Kings so badly in the first half on Wednesday (attacking Nemanja Bjelica in transition, spinning on Marvin Bagley in the post, and beating Bagley off the dribble), they were forced to double-team him in the post.
Hey! All right! Let’s throw a little more love Siakam’s way. Here’s a fun feature from William Lou at the Score. And now, knowing full well the context of this quote, allow me to say: he’s ready for his close-up, Dr. Schuhmann. Thanks for putting Toronto back on top after that weird no. 4-spot snafu last week.
Could it be, could the Raptors be about to run the table with four number ones in the Power Rankings? All we need is Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports to give us the good news, and —
2. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 2)
The renaissance and reinvention of Serge Ibaka, who has primarily been playing the five, has been one of the biggest reasons the Raptors feel like the team most likely to topple the Warriors’ dominance. Ibaka is second on the Raptors in scoring, averaging 17.2 points per game, which would be a career high. Ibaka’s done his damage closest to the rim, leaving three-point shooting to teammates. He’s shooting fewer threes than any season since 2013-14.
Dammit! The Raptors were so close. Still, cheers to Reid for reminding us that, oh yeah, Serge Ibaka is also having a wildly (almost impossibly) effective season. Let’s just let the good times roll here (instead of getting mad about the near-perfect Power Rankings game.)
Now, on to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 4 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, the top team deserves all #1s, I’ll take this all the way to the Supreme Court
Yes, it is indeed November, maybe we should maintain some perspective
No, I’ll give you some perspective: all shall be lost one day
Yes, I’m 75% of the way there with this one