I am back with some Raps talk and if you didn’t agree with my argument last time, this one should clear the air as to why they are completely overlooked by everyone who follows the NBA. Okay, we know they’re Canadian and the US markets don’t keep up with them like the others but you have got to take a good look at their stats and then try to tell me they aren’t a very competitive team.
The Raptors currently sit 2nd in the East and hold a 27-10 record, only 2.5 games back of the Boston Celtics for 1st in the conference. They are 4th overall in the league behind only Boston, Houston and Golden State. Currently on a W4, the Raptors have been rolling as of late and it has been a complete team effort. They have yet to lose a game in 2018 beating Milwaukee twice and Chicago once. Every player seems to have some sort of impact when they are on the floor and on most nights the defense has been outstanding. They have yet to lose more than two straight games all season long. The turn around has been amazing for this squad.
Derozan & Lowry – Demar Derozan is slowly emerging as an absolute superstar in this league. Since the start of 2018 (3 games) he has averaged 35.6 PPG, 6.0 APG, 4.3 RPG shooting 55.7% from the field, 55% from three and 93.3% from the free throw line. Absurd. He is on a mission to prove the critics wrong. Almost every night he seems unstoppable and now that he has implemented the 3-point shot into his game he has developed himself into a complete player. Just the other night against the Bucks he scored a career high 52 points in an overtime victory at home. Then there’s Kyle Lowry, a player who I feel is also underrated. In 2018, his stats are as follows: 19 PPG, 4.6 APG, 5.6 RPG shooting a 45.9% FG, 44% 3P, 70.5% FT. Not quite Derozan’s numbers but as a supporting all-star teammate and quarterback of the offense these numbers are very impressive. Arguably a Top 3 backcourt in the NBA with their eyes set for a deep run in the playoffs. If these two stay healthy the team will continue to compete at its highest level.
Supporting Cast – JV, Ibaka, OG, Delon, Powell, Poeltl, CJ, Freddy, Pascal. Who hasn’t made an impact this year? Night in and night out these players bring their best. Recently against Chicago, PG Delon Wright scored a career high 25 points shooting 10-15 from the field. What about the JV and Ibaka duo that came alive against the Bucks just last night. They combined for 41 points and 18 rebounds leading the Raps to a 129-110 win on the road. Pick any game and you will find a supporting member who stood out and made a major difference for this team similar those previous examples. Sometimes their stat lines may not tell the whole story, maybe they were a lockdown defender or an offensive asset working off the ball. Regardless this group is a strong one and the environment gives off a very family vibe. I really believe that this Raptors team is the best one we have ever seen.
The only problem is for some reason it just always feels like they are one player away from truly becoming a contender in this league. I would never count them out but having to get through the Celtics and/or Cavaliers just to make it to the NBA Finals would be an extremely tough task to achieve. But this year, I believe this team may have it in them. Have faith.
We the North!