The Toronto Raptors (37-16) have the fourth-best record in the NBA, the best home record in the NBA (22-4) and trail the Boston Celtics (39-1) by just one game for the top spot in the East. And yet, it seems the Raptors aren’t getting a lot of respect this season.
That needs to change.
“They’re one of the more intriguing teams to watch,” NBA-TV host Jared Greenberg said on The DA Show. I think Toronto’s got an unbelievable roster right now, and they have some long-term sustainability. The way Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster have built this roster, they’re going to be good this year and the next few years. But nothing is guaranteed in the NBA. You don’t know how the power shift changes next year. You don’t know who gets injured.
“This is going to be the Raptors’ best chance in their history to get to the NBA Finals,” Greenberg continued. “The Cavaliers (and) LeBron James (are) vulnerable. You don’t know what next year is. I would go out and make a big move this year before today’s deadline to try to bolster your chances. The Raptors are not promised to ever have an opportunity like they have this year. I truly believe right now as we speak today, they are the best team in the East. Now ultimately, will it be the Celtics? Maybe. Probably. But right now, the Raptors are really, really dangerous.”
Depth is a big reason why. The Raptors have five players averaging double figures, including Serge Ibaka (12.8 points per game), Jonas Valanciunas (11.8) and CJ Miles (10.0). They also have 11 players averaging at least 18.0 minutes per game.
“They are extremely talented, and their bench play has been unbelievable,” Greenberg said. “The fact that they have totally flipped the script on how they play – everything that they have gotten criticized for in the playoffs the last couple of years when they have fallen apart, they don’t do that anymore. Yeah, you can say, ‘Well, it’s not the playoffs,’ but the point of it is the reason they’ve gotten to that point is the style of play and they’re totally a different team. If you haven’t watched the Raptors, they’re much more fun and exciting than ever before.”
DeMar DeRozan, in particular, deserves MVP consideration. He’s averaging 24.2 points, 5.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. Those numbers are right in line with Kyrie Irving’s 24.7 points, 5.0 assists, 3.6 rebounds, an 1.1 steals.
“DeRozan and Kyrie Irving are knocking on the door, and their numbers are identical,” Greenberg said. “They’re both basically atop the Eastern Conference.”