When I decided to keep this weekly tradition going after Reynolds left, I didn’t full realize just how... depressing it can be. When I read and enjoyed Reynolds version over the years, the Toronto Raptors were mostly really really good — except last year, but that was a comically abnormal season.
This year the Raptors are mostly, well, not that great, and even though I didn’t think they would be, seeing them gradually tick down the rankings each Monday is a pretty crappy way to start the week!
Alas, we soldier on, if only to have all this on the record when (yes, when, not if) this team turns things around. (When could imply anything. Like, next year. Or 2025.)
Let’s see juuuust how far the Raptors’ somnambulant West coast trip has made them fall, starting with Zach Harper at The Athletic. Toronto is still in Zach’s “The Playoff Tournament Gives them Life” tier, but have slipped into the bottom 10. He’s also thrown a Thanksgiving angle in the mix:
21. Toronto Raptors (previously: 19)
What should this team be thankful for? The quick return of Pascal Siakam into the mix. I know some Toronto Raptors fans have been frustrated with the team seemingly playing worse as Siakam got back on the court, and maybe they were at times. A 1-6 record with him on the floor isn’t ideal, especially when you’re already jostling for position in the crowded East playoff race.
Ugh, 1-6? I don’t think I really realized that. Zach goes on to say that Siakam is still re-adjusting to the speed of the game, but that outside of the Utah stinker Siakam’s flashed a nice scoring mix. I don’t disagree there but to me the bigger concern is how out of sync the Raptors have looked on defense since Siakam’s return.
Now, let us bounce over to ESPN, where Tim Bontemps also has the Raptors dropping into the 20s:
20. Toronto Raptors (previously: 17)
Toronto’s season so far has been a series of runs. The Raptors lost three of their first four games, only to win their next five in a row. They’ve since followed that up by losing seven of their past nine, including Sunday night’s loss to the league-leading Warriors. The surprising part? The Raptors are a top-10 offensive team and a bottom-10 defensive team. Before the season, it would’ve been expected to have been the reverse.
I think a lot of people are thinking the same thing, Tim (including our next guest). What is most curious and what I can’t put my finger on, other than to just suggest that the team is struggling to integrate Siakam, is what changed from the first 7-8 games, where the Raptors were flying all over the court and frustrating the hell out of every opponent, to the more recent run where the Raptors are giving shooters approx. 27 feet of space to get their shots off.
20. Toronto Raptors (previously: 18)
Two weeks ago in this space, somebody wrote that “The Raptors should remain a team that ranks higher on defense than it does on offense.”
The Raps, now with a top-10 offense and a bottom-10 defense, have quickly proven that somebody wrong. As they’ve lost seven of their last nine games, they’ve allowed 116.6 points per 100 possessions, the league’s worst mark by a healthy margin over that stretch. Defense can be a choice between protecting the rim and defending the 3-point line, but the Raps have done neither well, ranking 29th in both opponent field goal percentage in the restricted area (70.3%) and opponent 3-point percentage (39.1%) over these last 17 days.
Ah yes, the old, “well, if you’re going to be bad, may as well be bad at everything” approach. One last thought from John that perhaps answers my question above:
Maybe, in Year 4 of Nick Nurse as head coach, teams just have a better idea of how to attack this defense.
Yeah, or maybe they figured it out last year. Sigh.
On to the poll:
After another losing week, is a bottom-third ranking for the Raptors fair?
This poll is closed
Totally. This team is ranked right where it should be — they’re bad.
It is, but I’m still optimistic. They’ll turn it around.
It’s not. They’re on the road and missing OG. They’re better than this.
Up, down, who cares, it’s all Siakam’s fault.