The Toronto Raptors continue to get disrespected thanks to the most recent 2020-21 Power Rankings.
NBA.com released it’s 2020-21 Power Rankings ahead of the upcoming season and your Toronto Raptors ranked 15th.
In-between the Raptors were the Phoenix Suns (14th) and Indiana Pacers (16th). When are people going to figure out that Canada’s team is arguably the most consistent franchise of the past five seasons and a capable top-five team in the NBA?
Before I get into the reason why the team deserves to be higher on this list, let’s look back at the history of this franchise.
The Raptors have won the Atlantic Division six of the past seven seasons and have won 50 or more games in five straight seasons. The team has also never finished worse than sixth in the entire league in winning percentage within those five seasons.
Toronto is getting close to reaching a culture of excellence like the San Antonio Spurs and year-after-year the team overachieves their pre-season rankings. It’s becoming comical that certain folks still disrespect this team, despite being incredibly consistent.
Toronto Raptors are not shy to disrespect
Even when the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship, they were huge underdogs and critics claimed that they only achieved greatness because the Golden State Warriors were injured. Then, those same people said the team might even struggle to make the playoffs after Kawai Leonard left.
Let me remind you what happened last season.
The Toronto Raptors rallied to a .736 winning percentage (best in franchise history) and finished second in wins league-wide. The team may have lost to the Boston Celtics but it was in a hard-fought seven-game series that could have gone either way. If the Raptors made a few more shots, they’d be playing in the Eastern Conference Finals and could have found a way back into the NBA Finals.
Within the rankings on NBA.com, the Raptors are currently listed as the sixth-best team in the Eastern Conference. No offense, but I can’t see a world where this team finishes worse than fourth. And that’s the worst-case scenario.
Here are the teams ahead of the Raptors:
Of those teams, the only one that I legitimately see surpassing the Raptors are the Bucks. They still have the back-to-back MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and a number of key starters returning, plus the addition of Jrue Holiday helps.
Besides the Bucks, how are the Raptors not in a better position than those other teams? Sure they’re missing Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, but their core of Cheap Pascal Siakam Jersey, Cheap Kyle Lowry Jersey, and Cheap Fred VanVleet Jersey are back and the youngsters should only improve. They also have Nick Nurse, who’s the best coach in the NBA, and you know he’ll get the most out of his bench players like he did last season.
The Miami Heat may have made the NBA Finals last season, but that could have been a fluke. We’ve never seen Jimmy Butler like that before and who knows if we will again.
In terms of the other teams ahead of Toronto, the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum may be a top-20 player in the NBA, but they lost Gordon Hayward. Personally, I’d still take the winning experience and core of Toronto over them in a series.
The biggest question mark to me is the Brooklyn Nets. I can understand that a Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving duo is fun to talk about, but I can’t see this working. Durant hasn’t played a meaningful NBA game in 1.5 years and Irving is always a distraction. Just because it looks great on paper, doesn’t mean it’s going to translate to the floor.
This is a star-driven league and sure, a Siakam-VanVleet duo doesn’t move the dial like some other tandems. However, if the Raptors have taught us anything, it’s that a team-game is more important than one individual. Leonard may have been a huge reason why the Raptors won a championship, but he’s not the only reason.
The team has a collection of talent that will make them successful, instead of one superstar. If you want a perfect example, look back to Game 3 of the Second Round last year. Of all people, it was Cheap OG Anunoby Jersey who kept the Raptors’ season alive, nailing the game-winning shot at the buzzer. The team has a collection of talent and doesn’t have to rely on one superstar to win a ball-game.
NEXT: Toronto Raptors can make it back to NBA Finals
When the Raptors face adversity, they perform at their highest level and as the only team not playing in their home arena to start the regular season, they’re already battling hardship. Don’t sleep on the Raptors. Like every year before this, they’re going to surprise you.
Toronto Raptors team president Masai Ujiri will enter the final season of his current deal. Talks about an extension have stalled this off-season. In a conference call with media, Ujiri admitted that they just haven’t had the time. There have been a lot of other things on his plate which has sidetracked progress between him and the Raptors organization.
Via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.com:
“There’s just been so much [going on],” he said. “Honestly, it’s not a matter of not doing it, I think there’s just been so much [and] I’ve pushed it [back] until, I think, we get through a lot of this. There’s just so much going on with this relocation, and the focus, I don’t want to be distracted that way.”
While the coronavirus pandemic has obviously impacted the entire league, Toronto is arguably the most affected among the 30 NBA teams. The league needed to find the 2019 NBA champs a temporary home with the Canadian government restricting travel to the country. Ujiri obviously needed to be spearheading the process and that may have taken up a lot of his time. Eventually, the Raptors settled in on Tampa as their stopgap home for this campaign.
Apart from their short-term relocation, Ujiri certainly needed to make decisions with free agency. Toronto lost two key big men in the off-season in Cheap Serge Ibaka Jersey and Cheap Marc Gasol Jersey, and the former Executive of the Year needed to find replacements to fill in for their departures. Eventally, the Raptors signed Cheap Aron Baynes Jersey and Cheap Alex Len Jersey to replenish their front court depth this 2020-21 campaign.
It’s certainly in the the Raptors’ best interests to keep the Nigerian-Canadian executive for the long haul. Ujiri is, in fact, considered the mastermind responsible for Toronto’s historic run to their first ever NBA championship in 2019.
Nonetheless, it seems like both sides want to keep their relationship going. It’s just a matter of finding the right time to strike the deal and sign on the dotted line.