The Toronto Raptors are off to a 9-1 start so far this season. They are in first place in the east. The Raptors destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers on the road on Sunday night 121-107 without Kawhi Leonard. Are they serious championship contenders?
The Toronto Raptors have a new coaching regime in place in Nick Nurse. Dwane Casey was fired after the playoffs last season. Nurse has brought in a different philosophy and the Raptors have not skipped a beat.
Even though Toronto was the number one seed in the east last season, they decided to make some moves in the offseason. Trading for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green this past offseason from the San Antonio Spurs was a big deal. DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl was shipped in that deal from Toronto.
Leonard is in the final year left of his contract. He is averaging 26.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.6 BPG, and 2 SPG so far this season. Green is averaging 10.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.6 APG and 1 SPG so far this season.
Serge Ibaka is averaging 18.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 1.4 BPG so far this season. Jonas Valanciunas is averaging 13.9 PPG and 7.3 RPG so far this season. Pascal Siakam is averaging 11.3 PPG and 7.4 RPG so far this season. Kyle Lowry is averaging 18 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 11.6 APG, and 1.5 SPG so far this season. He has played a different type of game this season and Lowry has been more effective.
They also have a very deep bench once again this season. Toronto had a good bench last season as well. The Raptors are ranked seventh in the NBA this season in points scored with 116.7 points per game. They have given up the sixth fewest points in the NBA season. Toronto has given up 107.7 points per game.
The Raptors win each game by an average of nine to 10 points. That is what elite teams do. I thought the Boston Celtics were going to be the best team in the east this season. I thought the Toronto Raptors would be the second best team in the east this season.
As of right now, Toronto is a lot better than Boston and the Raptors have been very impressive. Will see what happens as the season goes on, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals this season if this keeps up. They have been legitimate contenders for the past few years, but Lebron James dashed those hopes. With him in the west now, those dreams could possibly become a reality for them.