In September, I wrote about how good I thought the Toronto Raptors were going to be this season. Believe it or not, I was right! The Raptors are awesome this season. Here is what I wrote about a few months ago and how things have rounded out since then.
Kawhi Leonard’s Health/Kawhi versus DeMar
When healthy, every NBA fan knew exactly how good Kawhi Leonard is. He was probably the closest thing to Michael Jordan in the 2016-2017 season, a season in which he probably should have won MVP. He hasn’t been that good this season. Nonetheless, he has been stellar all-around so far this season. In 21 games this season, Kawhi is averaging 26.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists on .599 true-shooting percentage. His usage is at 29.9 percent, not far behind the 31.1 he posted in 2016-17. He has been in the conversation for MVP since the beginning of the season.
Kawhi’s health has basically been a non-issue. Head coach Nick Nurse has said they have rested Kawhi in a few games just to be precautious. I wrote at length about how much better an overall player Kawhi is than DeMar Derozan. This season has proved that point, and any Raptors fan would tell you as much.
The Trade with San Antonio
We know DeRozan was heartbroken over the trade. To this day, no one really knows how Kawhi feels about being in Toronto. Regardless, it looks as if the Raptors took a smart gamble and the team record of 21-7 agrees with that sentiment. Furthermore, it’s easy to infer the Raptors won this trade handily. DeRozan has .555 TS%, the same as last season. Jakob Poetl has averaged 13 minutes per game. The pick Toronto traded to the Spurs is basically a second-rounder. Why the Spurs pursued the “win-now” trade package is something many wondered immediately.
It’s hard to know for sure if Nurse is a “good” head coach in such a small sample at the helm. However, the team seems to be playing hard for Nurse. Toronto’s record is 21-7, which speaks for itself and says something about Nurse too.
As predicted, the Raptors can really bring bring it on the defensive end. Last season, Toronto was limited in its defensive upside due to DeRozan. Their defensive rating is 106.7, seventh in the NBA. I can only imagine that getting better.
As you can see, the Raptors came into the season with a ton of hype surrounding their team. They have lived up to it through 28 games.