It’s been a wildly entertaining season so far — recent news decidedly not withstanding — for the Toronto Raptors, even as it’s become increasingly frustrating to watch this team get cut down by injury over and over again. As of this writing, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell are officially on the shelf — though the hope is at least one of them will be back come Saturday night — and it’s felt almost impossible to have an entirely healthy roster.
Still, Toronto is 46-18, the third best record in the league. And by my math, that means we’re at the 64-game marker, just past the season’s three-quarter mark, with 18 games to go and still time to get every Raptor healthy and on the same page. It’s been an uncommon season, so now it’s time for an uncommon assessment: the Three-Quarter Season Report Card.
How do we measure the Raptors now with three-quarters of the season in the books? Let’s hand out some grades. (And for comparison, here’s the mid-season take.)
Kyle Lowry - A+
Do we need to go over this again?
Pascal Siakam - A-
Siakam has no doubt experienced some growing pains over the last 20-25 games or so. Here’s what we know: against certain opponents, he literally cannot be stopped — his moves are just too devastating in the post. Here’s also what we know though: if his 3s dry up, and the Raptors are playing a smart defensive team, they can push Siakam out of his comfort zone. When Pascal respond with sharp play-making — and, sure, finds his footing on some mid-range jumpers — the calculus changes again. It’s all happening, just not all at once.
Fred VanVleet - A
Like Lowry, not sure what else there is to be said about VanVleet at this point. He’s proven he can develop chemistry with anyone, he’s an awesome perimeter defender, and his shooting is reliable. VanVleet could use more of an in-between game (he lags behind Lowry in this aspect) but that’s no reason to put him any lower than A here.
OG Anunoby - B+
Anunoby’s up and down season continues! The latest chapter: steals galore (at 1.4 per game) — and, oh yeah, a career-high 32 points while out in Denver. Anunoby continues to secure his spot in the Raptors’ current rotation and their future as the team’s go-to stopper, ball-hawk, and fighting-through-contact finisher. He’s strong enough to guard most players, and has enough reach and foot speed to contain all but the absolute quickest of the quick. On top of that, as of late, he’s shown even more of an icy killer instinct. (I’m not sure Rudy Gobert will ever recover.)
Marc Gasol - B+
Hard to grade Gasol since he’s played but one game in about six weeks, but we’ll lock him in with a steady here. This season of his career has been all about maintenance and taking care. Gasol had a super-long 2018-19 season with the run to the Finals and his World Cup journey, so giving him what amounts to a comfortable mid-season break is a good call by Toronto. Hopefully he has enough time to tune up for the playoffs, when the Raptors will no doubt once again need him to be at his best.
Serge Ibaka - A
When Zach Lowe is consistently touting your season as a good one, you know you’ve arrived. After spending all those years as the third or fourth wheel in OKC, Ibaka has no doubt reinvented himself in Toronto as a do-it-all centre in the starting lineup or off the bench. We still don’t necessarily trust him to handle the ball too much, but he’s averaging a career-high 1.5 assists per game while also shooting close to 40 percent on threes (after a significant dip in attempts and makes last year). And is there any doubt the Raptors can go to war with Ibaka? Of course not.
Norman Powell - A+
If not for injuries, Norm would have absolutely been in the discussion for the Most Improved and Sixth Man award. He’s doubled his scoring average and his usage is up a tick, and he has actually increased his efficiency in the process. The numbers are all right there — but watching Powell is the real difference nowadays. He plays with a controlled fury now that is honestly incredibly comforting. He gets it. (Now if only he could stay on the court!)
Patrick McCaw - D+
I mean, he plays hard and every so often he hits a big shot or generates a bucket out of nowhere. But the rest of the time: stress in shoes.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - B
Speaking of stress, it is always an experience to watch Rondae play. Nothing is ever easy for him on either end of the court, but his effort is (almost) always so total it makes up for his lack of execution. As the Raptors get healthier, one would expect his minutes to continue to drop, and for him to be used in only specific matchups or to juice certain lineups with a dose of rebounding/defensive intensity. In this, RHJ continues to bring what he can when called upon to bring it. Hard to get too mad at that.
Terence Davis - B
There have been moments, hoo boy, when Davis looks ready to be an All-Star tomorrow. It’s mostly just us getting a little too excited (along with him), but there’s no denying TD has shown Toronto, and the league at large, his talents — and then some. Over the past 20 or so games, Davis has had his share of highlights (working Khris Middleton, putting up 20-and-8 vs. Brooklyn, dunking on some Warriors, etc.) and he’s reminded us that he’s still a 22-year-old rookie (lost on defense, streaking shooting, questionable decision-making, etc.). It’s easy to feel excited about where Davis goes next though.
Chris Boucher - B-
Like Davis, Boucher has had his moments. Unlike Davis, his upside still feels considerably lower. To Boucher’s credit, he remains fearless (he helped ice the game in Phoenix, for example) but there’s still only so much he can do. It’s fair to note that he’s been ineffective for wide swaths of the season, and also: if the Raptors had a healthy frontcourt through 64 games Boucher’s role would likely have been considerably smaller. Still, he gets after it.
Matt Thomas - B
Thomas has become something of a steadying presence on the bench. The Raptors know his limitations — defense, by a wide margin — but coach Nick Nurse also knows how to leverage the unique threat of Thomas’ shooting. We’ve seen it a few times this season when Thomas gets going. He can act as a one-man zone breaker, and since he’s sharp enough off the ball, it gets defenses moving the wrong way. Also, an underrated rebounder!
Stanley Johnson - F
Just hang on, there’s another season of Stanley Johnson on the books.
Malcolm Miller - F
This is the lost season of Miller, and almost certainly his final run in Toronto. Tough to see it happen, but it is happening.
Dewan Hernandez - INC.
Dude sprained his ankle in late December and we never heard from him again. Tough way to join the league. Get well soon, Dewan — and presumably we’ll catch you next year.
Oshae Brissett - C
We’ll keep Oshae at a C, even though he hasn’t had much of a role in the NBA in 2020, playing mostly spot minutes for the Raptors. That said, there’s something there with Brissett, and I wouldn’t be surprised to seem him slowly rise in the ranks of the Raptors’ rotation over the next little while.
Paul Watson - INC.
Watson joined the Raptors in mid-January and has appeared in three games. He gets an incomplete and that’s it.
Nick Nurse - A
Not sure how Nurse doesn’t win Coach of the Year — assuming there’s still an award show in the off-season. And on that note, we’ll put these grades in the mail and hope everything turns out with the NBA (and the world).