10-game checkpoint: Raptors look-back & look-ahead


This is the first of eight “look-back & look-ahead” posts I’ll write throughout the season, after each ten-game stretch.


After a scorching 5-0 start to the season, the Toronto Raptors fell back to earth in worrisome fashion. An unrewarding trip to Florida was followed by a disappointing close loss to the New York Knicks. Reality bites, as it so often does: DeMarre Carroll was sidelined with plantar fasciitis, then Terrence Ross discovered he had somehow hyperextended a ligament in his left thumb.

However, playing two dreadful teams, Philadelphia and New Orleans, was a tonic, and the Raptors sit 7-3. Let’s be honest: each one of us would have said “We’ll take it” if we had been offered that record after the first ten games.

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What’s confounding is how the Raptors have managed this record. We haven’t seen them play 48 minutes of satisfying basketball yet. Certainly we haven’t played any powerhouses, other than Oklahoma City.


Is the team’s solid start backed up by decent statistics, or has Toronto just been lucky?

A browse through the NBA’s website provides considerable comfort. The Raptors rank sixth in plus/minus, at +six points Per Game [PG]. Leading this stat are last year’s champions, the Golden State Warriors, with a ludicrous +17, providing emphatic proof that their 10-0 start is no fluke. These guys also lead the league in points per game, with Oklahoma City next. The up & coming Utah Jazz has been unlucky; they have posted a +4 point margin, but have a losing record of 4-5. Utah’s margin is particularly surprising, given their threadbare offense, which ranks 26th. Clearly the defensive-minded Jazz are a team to watch.

Nov 13, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) comes down with a rebound against the New Orleans Pelicans at Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated New Orleans 100-81. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors are tied with San Antonio for 26th in 3-pointers made with 6.5 PG. That’s hardly a surprise, given how dismally Patrick Patterson and Terrence Ross have misfired on long balls. Golden State sits atop this ranking, draining 12.2 PG. The “sister stat” is 3-point shooting percentage, where the Raptors sit a disappointing 19th with 32.8. The Brooklyn Nets and Memphis Grizzlies are dead last, with 26.8.

Stephen Curry leads the individual scoring race at 33.7 PPG. That’s not a sustainable number, although he’s the only person on the planet for whom it might be possible. The other Splash Brother in Golden State, Klay Thompson, isn’t off to a great start, but he’ll be fine. The Raptors don’t have a dog in this hunt. If we could reach the season’s halfway mark with six or seven of our rotation players averaging double figures in scoring PG, there’d be nothing but smiles.

Finally, rebounding. Toronto is tied with the Chicago Bulls with 49.7 PG, good for third in a category in which the surprising 5-3 Detroit Pistons sit second (behind OKC). Pistons centre Andre Drummond is the individual leader by far with 19.3. Jonas Valanciunas is tied for ninth with 10.3. Kyle Lowry ranks eighth among guards with 5.0.

[all stats courtesy of www.nba.com, & accurate as of Nov. 14, early AM]


Um…yikes. The Raptors begin a miserably difficult 10-game stretch with a lengthy west coast trip. The team faces Sacramento tomorrow night, followed by the Warriors and Jazz back to back, then set up shop in Los Angeles for a pair. They return to play the Cleveland


Cavaliers, then sandwich trips to Washington and Atlanta with a game against Phoenix. The trial by ordeal (for instance, the Warriors and Cavs are a combined 18-1) ends at home versus the better-than-expected Denver Nuggets.

The Raptors have shown they can win on the road (4-2), and they will need that capability to defeat the Kings and Lakers. Another victory in the 5-gamer would be nice, because the next five are no prize.

If the Raptors can emerge with a .500 mark in the next 10, I will feel much better about the remainder of the season.

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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.