This is going to be a new, weekly thing where we amalgamate some of the power rankings around the NBA. We Toronto fans can sometimes mistake how the rest of the league views the Raptors, so it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse outside of our own little bubble. The two most important power rankings are released on Mondays, so in the future this roundup will be shifted to earlier in the week.
nba.com and espn both have Toronto in the top spot in their power rankings, but both were published before an embarrassing clutch-time disaster against the Boston Celtics and ho-hum win over the futile Phoenix Suns. Take these with a grain of salt. nba.com praises Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam, while espn praises Kyle Lowry and Danny Green; it’s clear that the Raptors have a lot of different positives that are recognized around the league.
Bleacher Report – which was published earlier today – has Toronto third in the league behind only the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks. It includes the Celtics loss in its calculation, but without overreaction: “If not for a bench letdown, Toronto could have overcome Irving’s eruption and won that contest.” Again, more praise for Leonard as an MVP candidate.
FanSided has Toronto in fifth, below the Celtics and the Bucks in the East. This was published before the Celtics loss, but it’s unlikely that FanSided would drop Toronto below the Indiana Pacers (6) because of the crunch time letdown. FanSided does have some important criticism, particularly of Toronto’s middling net rating.
“Toronto’s point differential has slid to plus-4.9 per 100 possessions which is below the threshold of what we’d normally expect from a strong contender.”
If you want to spin that in a positive way, you could say that Leonard’s (and most recently, Pascal Siakam’s) late-game heroics have saved Toronto in a variety of close games. However, they aren’t blowing teams out the way they were to start the season. Part of that is injury, but FanSided likely has some truth to their concerns.