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Power Ranking Poll Week 13: The unanimous number one Raptors are here

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After yet another week of wins, the Raptors continue to prove they can weather any storm and stay on target as the number one team in the NBA.

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

In a long NBA season, it eventually becomes about positive trends. There will be acute ups and downs — wins and losses that feel huge in the moment but aren’t really. And there will be injuries that shift the balance of the roster and test a team’s resolve. What the 2018-19 Raptors continue to prove on both counts is: they can keep on keepin’ on through it all.

This week Toronto went 3-0 and their top player, Kawhi Leonard, won Player of the Week. The Raptors can also claim to be almost fully healthy, with only Jonas Valanciunas still on the long term shelf. Not unrelated: Toronto has now been named as the unanimous number one team in the NBA by the Power Ranking intelligentsia. It doesn’t happen often — and it certainly hasn’t happened much for any team not called the Golden State Warriors — yet here we are nonetheless.

So what do the Power Rankings actually say? Let’s dive in.

Up first is Big Arn, Kevin Arnovitz, at ESPN with his take:

1. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)

The Raps are back atop the heap in the East, after a stretch that coincided with the return of Kyle Lowry. Although his numbers haven’t been individually impressive — since Thanksgiving, really — Lowry continues to be, as he has always been, an advanced-stats darling. The Raptors are 14 points better per 100 possessions when he’s on the hardwood. Only Danny Green — who leads all NBA starters — has been better in that regard.

It is indeed always great to have Lowry playing, and playing well, for the Raptors. Arnovitz isn’t wrong that Lowry’s numbers don’t exactly pop off the page, but his presence on the team — running the play, smartly dictating tempo, controlling Toronto’s vibe — is hard to overstate. (Let’s just forget those two OTs in Washington never happened.)

I’ve got to hand it to Khadrice Rollins at SI this week, he makes the sound point:

1. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 2)

It wasn’t the most daunting competition for the Raptors last week, but they got the job done. Sure, they needed two overtimes to get past the Wizards, but Kawhi Leonard also averaged 30.7 points over the three wins.

There are no lies here — and rest assured, every Raptors fan would prefer every game against the Wizards to not be as stressful as yesterday afternoons — but having Kawhi Leonard makes a person forget a lot of the other particulars. The dude is just so good.

Next up, to impress Dr. John Schuhmann at NBA dot com, you know something is right:

1. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)

The Raptors went down to the wire against the Hawks and Wizards last week, but they’ve won five straight games and have a couple of days off before visiting the Celtics on Wednesday. That seems important with Kawhi Leonard having played a season-high 45 minutes and through leg stiffness in Washington. Pointing to Leonard’s lack of assists (3.1 per game) is nitpicking a Kia MVP candidate, but 26 dimes over his last five games (the most he’s had over any five-game stretch in his career) is encouraging. He assisted Serge Ibaka for the game-winner on Sunday, but 16 of those 26 dimes have gone to Pascal Siakam, who has now played 116 minutes at center. The Raptors have outscored their opponents by 10.7 points per 100 possessions in those Siakam-at-center minutes, though they were a minus-9 in 10 minutes with the spicy one at the five in their two close games last week. Two of the their four remaining back-to-backs are in the next 10 days, but the second game of the first one is at home against the Suns on Thursday.

First off, let me just applaud the doctor for going with “the spicy one” to describe Pascal Siakam. Much appreciated. Second, it is not un-concerning that somehow the Raptors managed to play down to their competition twice in the past week, though it was nice to see them beat up the Nets rather than get stuck in a struggle with them again too. Third, again, really hard to not end every paragraph with “dang Kawhi!” but also, uh, dang... Kawhi!

Finally, after a run of straight number ones, let’s get the CBS Sports take from Reid Forgrave:

1. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)

The early-season conclusion: Kawhi Leonard is the missing piece that it would take for the Raptors to change from being a great regular-season team into a true contender to make the Finals, and perhaps the league’s top challenger to the Warriors. What it looks like now: Pretty much the same, but just don’t forget the importance of Pascal Siakam (who should be an All-Star this year), Danny Green (the forgotten piece of that Kawhi-DeRozan trade) and Kyle Lowry (who was unreal to start the season, but whose injuries have been concerning). This team, when perfectly healthy, could win it all. Five wins in a row, the longest streak in the NBA.

All of this, every last sentence there, is completely correct. And as our man Daniel Hackett alludes to here: the Raptors are just now rounding into form, which means: look out.

Now, onto the poll.

Poll

Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 13 of the Power Rankings?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    No, but.... but.... what else is there? I’m so confused
    (52 votes)
  • 40%
    Yes, give them some credit for pulling through this past week (and month, so far)
    (666 votes)
  • 6%
    No, sure, go ahead, build hope even higher — we already know where this leads
    (106 votes)
  • 50%
    Yes, short answer!
    (836 votes)
1660 votes total Vote Now