The season is half-done - where are the Raptors?

It’s the midway point of the Toronto Raptors season, and time to take the proverbial step back. What’s been good so far, and what’s been a disappointment? What does the rest of the season promise?

Jan 13, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez (21) celebrates their victory with forward Steve Novak (16) against the Milwaukee Bucks at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Bucks 116-94. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Pleasant surprises:

  • Kyle Lowry – consistent, tough…a leader
  • DeMar DeRozan – blossoming in all facets of the game
  • the bench – orders of magnitude better since Rudy’s departure brought us some rotation guys who can actually play
  • road wins – beating some tough teams in their own buildings
  • Masai Ujiri – a steady hand on the tiller; too smart to simply blow it up & get pennies on the dollar
  • team health – I’m not sure I should have added this, for fear I’d create a jinx

What a drag:

  • Rudy Gay – “know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em”
  • Landry Fields – as they say on Bay Street, he’s dead money
  • overtime losses – the bane of this franchise’s existence since Day 1
  • Terrence Ross’s offense – many open looks, not enough splashes

Comme-ci, comme-ca:

  • Jonas Valanciunas – not the breakout season many predicted, but not a disaster either
  • Amir Johnson – up, down, all around
  • Dwane Casey – he’s lost some winnable games, but he’s playing the kids, which I like
  • Terrence Ross’s defense – not a finished product yet, but it’s good enough to keep him on the floor despite his shabby shooting

When I looked into my crystal ball before the season started, I predicted a 42-40 season for the Raptors. If I do say so myself, that’s looking good about now. The Raps are in reasonable shape to make the playoffs, but it’s by no means a foregone conclusion. The NBA’s Eastern Conference is headlined by the gaudy records of Indiana (21-1 at home) and Miami, who aren’t within hailing distance of the next six teams. The records of seeds 3-8 are starting to look respectable, and very tight. Atlanta is barely ahead of Chicago and Toronto’s 21-20 mark, and the Washington Wizards were an overtime loss to Boston away from making that record a three-way. Brooklyn has picked itself off the carpet, and is only 2 losses behind the Raps and Bulls. Even feisty Charlotte is in the mix.

Here’s what I wrote before Game 1: We’ll be seeing playoff games for the first time in six years, but our spot won’t be guaranteed until the season’s final week.

Believe it.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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