Toronto Raptors Odds
Odds to win NBA Championship: +2400
Odds to win Western Conference: +800
Toronto Raptors Season Recap
The Raptors have had an excellent season to this point, establishing a 46-18 record so far. That is good enough to make them the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference and puts them on pace to win 59 games, just ahead of the 58 they won last season. That was never supposed to be the case after Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green departed the team over the offseason, but the Raps have ridden a balanced approach to high levels of success this season.
Toronto likely can’t catch up with Milwaukee for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference as the Bucks are currently 6.5 games ahead of the Raptors. However, the Raps will need to work hard to maintain their #2 seed standing as the Celtics stand just 3 games behind them. The big-ticket goal is avoiding a drop to the 4 seed as the Raptors would love to avoid a matchup with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks until the Eastern Conference Finals. The Raptors are currently 5.5 games ahead of the #4 seed Heat, so they should be fairly safe in that regard.
Head coach Nick Nurse has led the Raptors to an excellent season on the back of balanced play between a variety of solid contributors. Pascal Siakam, last season’s Most Improved Player, is the team’s best player this season and one of the favorites for the MIP yet again – it would be the first time any player has ever won it twice. Toronto has several players who can create offense for themselves and their teammates, an approach that carried them to an NBA Finals win last season.
Toronto Raptors Depth Chart
PG: Kyle Lowry, Terence Davis
SG: Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Patrick McCaw, Matt Thomas
SF: OG Anunoby, Stanley Johnson, Malcolm Miller, Paul Watson
PF: Pascal Siakam, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher
C: Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Dewan Hernandez
Head Coach: Nick Nurse
Toronto Raptors Statistical Leaders
Points per game: Pascal Siakam (23.6), Kyle Lowry (19.7), Fred VanVleet (17.6)
Rebounds per game: Serge Ibaka (8.3), Pascal Siakam (7.5), Marc Gasol (6.3)
Assists per game: Kyle Lowry (7.7), Fred VanVleet (6.6), Pascal Siakam (3.6)
Steals per game: Fred VanVleet (1.9), OG Anunoby (1.4), Kyle Lowry (1.3)
Blocks per game: Chris Boucher (1.0), Pascal Siakam (0.9), Marc Gasol (0.9)
3PT% (minimum 3 attempts per game): Marc Gasol (40.2%), Serge Ibaka (39.8%), Norman Powell (39.8%)
Pascal Siakam has made another sizable jump in his overall play, going from 16.9 points per game last season to 23.6 points per game this season. He’s become the clear best player on the Raptors with his all-around scoring, rebounding, playmaking, and defense. The Raptors have gotten solid production from their backcourt as well, as Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet are the second and third-highest scorers on the team. VanVleet, in particular, has made an impressive jump this season, going from 11.0 points per game to 17.6 points per game and from 4.8 assists per game to 6.6 assists per game as he has played about 8 minutes more per game as a full-time starter. It’s also impressive that the players leading the team in 3-point shooting efficiency are both centers. The Raptors have done a better job than anyone could have predicted in replacing the statistical production of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, and they are a clear-cut contender to repeat as NBA champions.
Toronto Raptors Best 5-Man Lineups
* Minimum 36 total minutes played together
- Kyle Lowry, Terence Davis, Patrick McCaw, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka: minutes = 37; net rating = +32.3
- Fred VanVleet, Terence Davis, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka: minutes = 39; net rating = +17.6
- Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol: minutes = 192; net rating = +16.1
- Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol: minutes = 111; net rating = +13.4
- Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol: minutes = 280; net rating = +11.7
- Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam: minutes = 117; net rating = +0.0
- Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol: minutes = 36; net rating = -2.6
- Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka: minutes = 197; net rating = -5.5
- Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Patrick McCaw, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka: minutes = 135; net rating = -8.7
The diversity of names among the Raptors’ most-used and most efficient lineups this season shows how much quality and depth Toronto possesses this season. Lowry appears in three of the top five lineups this season and he has been the team’s best player alongside Siakam at times, putting together numbers that earned him an All-Star nod for the 6th-straight season. Perhaps most impressively, Kyle Lowry has drawn the most charges per game among all players who have played in 40+ games. His ability to get into the lane and draw fouls is a huge factor for the Raptors.
Marc Gasol leads the Raptors in net rating this season (minimum 20 minutes played per game) and he doesn’t even appear in the team’s top two lineups by net rating. After being traded to the team from the Grizzlies last season, he was a huge part of their championship run. Serge Ibaka figures to be the team’s starting center entering the playoffs, however, as the Congolese-Spanish player is five years younger and has averaged better volume stats across the board for the most part.
Somewhat concerning for the Raptors is the fact that their likely starting lineup – Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Serge Ibaka – has been outscored by 5.5 points per 100 possessions this season. Having played 135 minutes together, this is not a small sample size and is definitely concerning. The same lineup with Marc Gasol instead of Ibaka has been +11.7 in net rating in 280 minutes, so it will be interesting to see if Ibaka holds onto the starting role in the playoffs.
Toronto Raptors Strengths and Weaknesses
The Raptors rank 4th in the NBA in net rating this season behind just the Bucks, Lakers, and Clippers. That’s mostly due to an excellent defensive rating – 2nd in the NBA behind just the Bucks – as their offensive rating (12th) ranks closer to the middle of the pack. The Raptors’ defense has been elite this season as they have allowed the 2nd-fewest points in the paint and have the 2nd-most steals this season.
While the Raptors’ offensive rating isn’t incredible, their efficiency has been nothing short of impressive. Toronto ranks 2nd in the NBA in effective FG% as well as 2nd in turnover percentage. The team does rank inside the top ten in assist to turnover ratio, which is somewhat surprising given they allow the 2nd-most opponent points off turnovers in the NBA. Toronto’s half-court defense is elite, but if they are unable to stay away from turnovers in the playoffs it will be a problem. They rank at exactly league-average, 15th, in turnover percentage.
One area where the Raptors have been susceptible is with rebounding the ball. This is particularly true with defensive rebounding, as they have just the 25th-best defensive rebounding percentage this season and have allowed the 6th-most second-chance points per game this year. Overall, the team ranks 12th in rebounds per game, so perhaps this won’t be a major problem in the playoffs. However, if they are unable to keep their opponent from picking up extra opportunities on the offensive end, they may struggle to repeat their results from last season.
Toronto Raptors Predictions
I’m not totally sold on the Raptors’ chances of repeating as champions this season. Certainly, nobody expected them to do this well after losing Kawhi Leonard, the reigning Finals MVP, and Danny Green, an important starter from last season. However, I’m not confident the team can succeed without an elite proven talent on the wing. With Nick Nurse, the likely Coach of the Year winner, the team has the upside to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, but I’m not sure if they can get much further than that.
If the playoffs started today, the Raptors would take on the Brooklyn Nets in the first round. Brooklyn is going to be without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, as well as potentially Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan, who just tested positive for COVID-19. Their 2nd-round matchup would likely be against the Celtics or 76ers, the current #3 and #6 seed respectively, both of whom are capable of knocking off the Raps in a 7-game series. Even if Toronto survives that difficult 2nd-round matchup, a likely Eastern Conference clash against the super-charged Bucks awaits.
The Raptors have plenty of talent on their roster between Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and more. However, I don’t see them having the same upside as last season as the ceiling of this team should be worse than last year’s. My current prediction would be that the Raptors beat the Nets in the first round in four or five games and bow out to the Celtics in the Semi-Finals in a hard-fought seven-game series. Regardless, that would be a great result for a team that many wrote off after this past offseason.
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