The 2020-21 NBA season has been anything but kind to the Toronto Raptors. After a rough 27-44 (and counting) year, it’s easy to understand how confidence in the team could drop. After all, this is the worst regular season outcome for the Raptors since 2013, back when the “We the North” era was just a gleam in some marketeer’s eye. There have been disappointments before for the Raptors, of course — including during the past eight years — but this one feels different for a variety of reasons.
We need not expound on all of them here. And in truth, while the outcome of the 2020-21 season has been poor for the Raptors, the sentiments around the team are still loaded with positivity. In fact, according to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey 78 percent of Raptors fans are confident the team is headed in the right direction. That’s actually up — yes, up! — from 75 percent last week and 50 percent two weeks ago.
In other words: while this has been a rough year for Toronto, there is much reason to believe the Raptors will bounce right back in 2021-22 and in the years to come.
Look at that graph there and search your own feelings — you know it to be true!
Setting that all aside to discuss the broader playoff picture as a neutral observer, the biggest surprise of the season is likely [deep sigh] the success of the New York Knicks. For the first time since 2013, the Knicks have indeed reached the postseason and they did so without a big-name superstar leading the team. Of course, now we’re going to be made to hear about it — until the next time owner James Dolan screws up and the franchise craters back into the hole from whence it has come.
Nevertheless, how have the Knicks found success this season? In place of a superstar, the team has relied on an astounding season from Julius Randle and the grit and guile of head coach Tom Thibodeau, both of whom fans believe will finish the season with an individual award. In fact, 69 percent (no comment) of fans around the league believe Randle should win the 2020-21 Most Improved Player award. The next closest player, Michael Porter Jr., received 11 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, 50 percent of national fans believe Thibodeau has earned the Coach of the Year award this season. Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams took 23 percent. The narratives are taking shape here.
To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.