I took last week off from tracking the Power Rankings — when the Toronto Raptors were winning games and turning heads. Now I’m back and the Raptors are losing games again!
So I get to record another dip in the rankings. And with the team facing a tough stretch of road games, it doesn’t look like I’ll be recording a rise again anytime soon.
But the keepers of the Power Rankings can’t simply move the Raptors up in the rankings just because I desire it. They have a job to do! So let’s jump in and see how just how far the boys in red and white and black and gold have fallen.
18. Toronto Raptors (previously: 13)
While the Raptors are once again near the top of the league in regard to forcing turnovers, they’ve generally done a good job of taking care of the ball themselves, and their turnover differential (-3.6 per game) is the best in the league. But a couple of brutal miscues (OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes both getting the ball poked out of their hands) midway through the fourth quarter basically sealed their fate in a loss in Boston on Wednesday, their least efficient performance (88 points on 98 possessions) since opening night.
That’s pretty much the whole story, right: Great D, can’t translate it to good O. I like this part though:
It’s wild that the team with nobody bigger than the 6-foot-9, 233-pound Khem Birch leads the league in offensive rebounding percentage by a healthy margin
That is wild. I looooove that Nick Nurse identified “get us more shots” as a healthy way for the team to operate on O, and that the team has fully bought into it.
At ESPN, Tim Bontemps — who had the Raps at a lowly 22 at one point — was, er, a little light on content today. He appears to be somewhat confused about what this team is:
17. Toronto Raptors (previously: 14)
It appears Toronto is going to be a difficult team to face, and a hard one to get a read on. Thursday, the Raptors had a nice come-from-behind win in Philadelphia, only to come home and drop a game to the Pistons on Saturday night. Toronto is yet another team that should be in the play-in mix all season long in the East.
I don’t think Tim’s off-base to feel that way. I don’t know how you beat Philly one night and then lose to the Pistons the next either. I think these are the growing pains of a young team that hasn’t spent a lot of time together. The ups and downs are natural and expected.
Finally, we have The Athletic’s Zach Harper:
19. Toronto Raptors (previously: 17)
The Raptors had to drop a little bit here, especially with losing four of their last five. The loss to Detroit helped sink them into the lower tier because you just can’t lose that game if you’re Toronto. They have to feast on Detroit.
Yeah. I know what I just said about ups and downs. And I know Fred VanVleet was out. But with the Pistons on the road on the second night of the back-to-back, there really is no excuse for that loss.
Not sure I agree with this though:
This team doesn’t seem to have a good handle on its identity, but Siakam getting back to All-Star form would certainly help settle a lot of that. The key for the Raptors is figuring out where they are in their development plan. Will they sacrifice wins and experience for developing the young guys, or do they truly believe they can accomplish both at the same time consistently?
I think the Raptors do know their identity — using their length and athleticism to be annoying pests on D, and allow that D to fuel the offense. It’s just that, as noted, when you’re young and haven’t played much together, consistency takes time.
And I’m pretty sure Masai Ujiri invented “both at the same time consistently” when it comes to being competitive and rebuilding simultaneously.
All right, we’ve heard from them, let’s hear from you: Are the Raptors ranked fairly this week?
Is 17-19 the right range to rank the Raptors this week?
This poll is closed
Yep. 1-4 last week, that’s the best you’re gonna get.
No. Should be lower. They lost to the Pistons!
No. Should be higher, based solely on Freddy doing the Sam Cassell dance.