The Toronto Raptors have had a favorable season thus far, and have a growing fan base across the nation.
They currently have a record of 30-15 sitting in 2nd place in the Eastern conference. Although the expectations for the Toronto Raptors were unclear heading into the season, it looks to be mimicking last year’s record, where they finished 49-33.
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Despite what looks to be another acceptable year, the Raptors have a lot of positive aspects that may turn them into a frightening team heading into the All-Star weekend.
First, the Toronto Raptors have an all-star back-court, which consists of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen. Second, the Raptors are the fifth best defensive team in the NBA. This defense has been established without the help of DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas due to injuries for majority of the season. These two players are not only two starters, but they are also Toronto’s top defenders. DeMarre Carroll is a legitimate defender on the perimeter while Jonas Valanciunas provides interior defense, size and potential shot blocking.
Although injuries are a common part of an NBA season which is unfortunate, for the Raptors, these injuries have been a blessing in disguise. Through these injuries, bench players like Cory Joseph and Patrick Patterson are forced to step into larger roles and at times, they have made the headlines.
The Toronto Raptors will face a handful of teams who are struggling to find their rhythm this season like the Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards and the New York Knicks. Toronto Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey will also have to compete against a variety of teams with reputable and proven head coaches like Stan Van-Gundy of the Detroit Pistons, Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics, and Scott Skiles of the Orlando Magic who are all fighting for a playoff spot.
Dwayne Casey knows what his team is capable of without their leading defender in DeMarre Carroll and big man Jonas Valanciunas for the majority of the season, which has lead them to being fourth place in the eastern conference. Jonas Valanciunas has finally returned from his wrist injury, on December 28, 2015. Since his return he has played eight games with the team and has posted 2.6 blocks per game, in the last five games.
DeMarre Carroll has gone through arthroscopic surgery on January 6, 2016. The earliest Carroll could hopefully return by, will be between six-to-eight weeks. This major injury will give back-up wing players like Terrence Ross, and James Johnson an opportunity to truly cement themselves as a valuable member in the Raptors rotation.
The Toronto Raptors are currently on a 9 name win streak, and are just 2 games behind the first place Cleveland Cavaliers who are facing some recent troubles. Anchored by a pair of All-Stars, can the Toronto Raptors continue to contend for the top two spots in their conference without leading defender, DeMarre Carroll?
One thing is for sure: The Toronto Raptors are going to be a big threat in the playoffs, and their potential may put them finally over the hump.
We’re hoping local and foreign executives take notice of the excitement this brings to the nation, and realize Vancouver needs a basketball team, again.