Is This the Greatest Raptors Team Ever?

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 13: Head coach Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors argues a call with NBA referee Scott Wall
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 13: Head coach Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors argues a call with NBA referee Scott Wall /

As the season edges closer and closer to the playoffs the Toronto Raptors fight for the elusive number one seed.

Long gone are the days of 22-60 Raptors (2010-11). This year’s team is on pace to win 59 games which would set a franchise high for the 23 year old organization. The current record for the Raptors came in 2015-16 when the team managed to win 56 games and place 2nd in the East. While a three win improvement isn’t astonishing, these Raptors are definitely a different breed than in the past. Adding to that, if the Raptors manage to hold pace they would also be atop the Eastern Conference for the first time ever.

Looking only at the win/loss record doesn’t do this team justice. This team is far superior to any previous Raptors team.

The Numbers

Based on statistics alone, offensively, this team dominates statistically in comparison to past teams. The team has a stellar offensive rating of 113.8 according to basketball-reference. This places them at the top for any other Raptor team and fourth in the NBA this year. This is in part thanks to the increase in pace compared to last year going from 94.7 to 98 giving them their best pace ever. Game-by-game the 2017-18 Raptors are scoring at a pace of 112.1 points per game, which absolutely smashes the 106.8 average of 2016-17. The offense has taken a massive step to becoming a top tier offense in the league and blows any other Raptors team out of the water.

ORLANDO, FL – FEBRUARY 28: Jakob Poeltl
ORLANDO, FL – FEBRUARY 28: Jakob Poeltl /

The Raptors have also managed to pair a franchise-best offense with one of their best defensive squads. Currently, this Raptors team ranks 3rd in the NBA with a defensive rating of 105. This rating gives the 17-18 Raptors the sixth best rating as a franchise (not counting a locked out season). What has really been a saving grace for the Raptors this year is that both the starters and the bench dominate defensively. While statistically, the 2003-04 Raptors were the franchise’s best, the 2017 Raptors are still dominant. They’re also facing off against all-time offences like Golden State and Houston so the numbers might be skewed.

The Star Power

Throughout the franchise’s history, the Raptors have always had one star that dominates the team. In the earlier years, it was “Mr Air Canada” himself, Vince Carter. During the 2005 season, Chris Bosh took a large role and became the face of the team. Although it was short-lived, during his tenure with the Raptors Bosh had made a name for himself. Come 2010, Bosh decided to leave the Raptors and chase rings with LeBron in South Beach. Now to the present, the Raptors have a star in DeMar DeRozan. This year has been a year of change for him. While the points per game numbers haven’t been as high as last year for DeRozan, he seems to have finally developed an all-around game. DeRozan’s even bullied his way into MVP discussions. While nostalgia might have you daydreaming about Vince Carter and possibly even Chris Bosh, DeRozan has loudly become the best Raptor ever and provides the team with the go-to guy that wins championships. Something we’ve never had in the past.

This Raptors team has not one but two stars in DeRozan and Lowry. As much hype and attention that DeRozan deservingly receives, some of it should also go to his co-pilot, Lowry. Lowry has taken a backseat for the Raptors after agreeing to take less of a responsibility for the better of the team. While visually Lowry’s numbers have fallen in comparison to past years he’s also a better player than ever before. Lowry provides the team with leadership and a steady hand. Adding to that Lowry is willing to lay it all on the line for the team, taking charges against monster sized bigs like Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Lowry is the perfect complementary piece to a team, pairing the new and improved Lowry and DeRozan gives the Raptors star power unmatched by almost any past group.

The Bench Mob

Despite being selected 22nd overall in the 2017 NBA draft, OG Anuoby has been a major factor to both the starting and bench units. OG has been playing as a starter allowing for CJ Miles to come off the bench. This has created more depth for the team and adds a finishing touch to the already dominant bench squad.


Having OG playing a starter role was the beginning of what would be the best bench unit in all of the NBA and Raptors history. Per Zach Lowe “A total of 95 five-man lineups have logged at least 100 minutes this season. Best net rating/point differential among all of them: Toronto’s bench mob (FVV/Wright/Siakam/Poeltl/Miles), outscoring opponents by almost 28 points per 100 possessions.”

The “bench mob” is dominant on both sides of the floor. Being led by fan favourite Fred VanVleet has also been advantageous as he demands perfection from both himself and his unit. The mob can do anything, whether it’s spread the floor for an open 3-point shot or drive the basketball head first for an and-one. They also have big bodies Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam blocking just about everything that comes into the paint.

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It’s clear to anyone paying attention that the Raptors boast an incredible bench unit. They play with grit, speed and determination. Not to mention they seem to have an unbreakable bond which brings them all closer to one another. To top it all off not only are they the best bench in the NBA but they’re the best in Raptors history.

The Coaching

Last but not least, the coaching. Dwane Casey has always been a good coach but never great. Casey is the most winningest coach in Raptors history but has yet to make it out of the eastern conference finals, seemingly never adjusting his gameplay in order to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers. Casey’s been dominant in the regular season but has shown little promise in the off-season, losing to a weak New Jersey Nets team in the first round and getting swept by the Washington Wizards a year later. Casey’s most recent playoff run resulted in a second round exit after being swept by the Cavaliers. Although, with the transformation of so many of his starting players also came a change to Casey’s coaching. Casey’s newfound focus on ball movement, floor spacing and shots beyond the arc have been the key to his success. Casey’s brilliance has led to the development of the bench mob, he’s also shown faith in the squad and has been rewarded with success. Casey has battled his way into the coach of the year talks. Casey’s brilliant coaching is just one of the many reasons this Toronto team is the best ever.


The 2017-18 season has been a fantastic season for the Toronto Raptors thus far and with 22 games remaining, fans are hoping for the best. I’m comfortable saying that this Raptors team is the best team in organizational history. The statistics have this team as the best offence a Raptors team ever. They’ve also paired that with a top 6 defence making them all-around dominant. The Raptors also have “star power” in DeRozan and Lowry that is unmatched by any previous team. They’ve developed the best bench in the NBA, setting them far apart from any previous iteration the Raptors have ever seen. The new and improved Dwane Casey puts the perfect bow on top of this team. His coaching has helped the team reach heights never before seen.

As the Raptors look to continue their winning ways they’ll aim to beat last year’s organization-best 56-win season. To truly solidify themselves as the best Raptors team ever, this group will need to make a deep playoff run. Beating LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers would go a long way for this team.