Former Editor-in-Chief Daniel Reynolds has been writing this column — a summary of where the Raptors stand in all the popular weekly NBA Power Rankings — for years. Daniel has retired from HQ but I do feel some sort of responsibility in continuing it, not least because it was actually one of my favourite things to read on the site each week.
Here then, is my pale imitation!
To start off, we note that expectations this year for the Raptors are fairly low, from most outlets (including from, uh, me). Are the Toronto Raptors flying under the radar, ready to surprise everyone? Or are they indeed in rebuilding mode and heading, by design, to the lottery?
As ol’ King Henry might say, “Once more unto the breach…!”
First up, it’s Zach Harper of the The Athletic. Zach has gone haywire here and not just ranked each team, but also put them into tiers! Why Zach has decided to make more work for himself, and by extension for me, is shrouded in mystery. Here are Zach’s tiers:
- On the brink of contention
- Playoff hopeful
- Play-In Tournament gives them life
- Tired-of-rebuilding franchise
- Rebuilding franchise
I think you can probably guess where he’s got the Raptors, right? Yep, they’re in Tier 4, Play-In Tournament gives them life. In fact they’re the top team in the tier!
14. Toronto Raptors (previously 16)
Why are they here? I believe in the Toronto Raptors. A lot of people have written them off in a post-Kawhi Leonard world, and I get why you might. But I can’t stress enough how insane it was for them to play 72 road games last season. The Raptors playing half their games in Tampa Bay was a logistical nightmare. Now they get to go back home to Toronto.
Preach, Zach! Zach goes on to talk about needing Pascal Siakam to return to form and how much he’s looking forward to the team’s crazy switch ability. He also predicts a top 10 defense, which does seem attainable! If only the offense could say the same.
Meanwhile, we have crazy John Schuhmann over at NBA.com, whose name I hope to spell right every time I write it this year (that damn second H!). No wild tiers from John, just a straight up ranking that sees the Raptors coming in at #18.
18. Toronto Raptors (previously 18)
Scottie Barnes showing glimpses of being a do-everything forward wasn’t as surprising as Precious Achiuwa reporting to Toronto with a lot more offensive game — behind-the-back dribbles into pull-up jumpers, coast-to-coast drives, post-ups, tough finishes in traffic — than he showed as a rookie with the Heat.
I’m glad John mentioned Achiuwa because he was indeed impressive in the preseason, showcasing an offensive flair that I certainly didn’t see last year. He might need to rein it in a little — he was a little out of control at times — but Achiuwa will be a key cog in the Raptors transition machine.
John also notes the importance of the team running to minimize any issues with their half-court offense:
They did lead the preseason in the percentage of their possessions that were in transition (24.7%), according to Synergy tracking.
I’m definitely interested in seeing how that translates to the real games.
Finally, we swing the Power Rankings truck around to CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger, who… wait, what? No rankings from CBS!? Hopefully Colin is just waiting for teams to get a game or two under their belt, and we can hear from him next week.
For now, on to the poll.
Are the incremental power rankings gains enough for the Raptors this week?
This poll is closed
Yes. The opposition was subpar, so a slight gain makes sense.
No. Three wins are three wins! They should be top-15.
Neither. The opposition was so weak they should be dropping.
Don’t know, don’t care. I’m just here ‘cause Gary Trent is fine as hell.