Toronto Raptors: Whose stock is up/down, including Kawhi Leonard on fire

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Kyle Lowry (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

 With Kyle Lowry back on the court, the Toronto Raptors are etching towards the best version of themselves. How did everyone fare individually?

Kyle Lowry has returned and now everything looks a lot clearer for the Toronto Raptors. As good as Toronto has looked at times during the season, it’s clear to anyone who regularly watches the team has another level it can get to.

The recipients of a squashed schedule, the Raptors have played more games than any team in the NBA up to this point. Tired bodies are starting to have time to practice and rest up, and Valanciunas isn’t far away from returning.

Like most teams, the Raptors still have some figuring out to do. They have had 14 different starting line-up combinations, countless injuries to role players and starters and have just gone through shooting funks. It still feels like we haven’t come close to seeing the teams ceiling and, and that’s okay.

The Raptors have played 43 games so far, and it won’t take another 39 games to find something close to a realistic ceiling, surely not. We know they play aggressive defense and look for efficient shots on offense. The Raptors aren’t an unknown quantity, they’re just not there yet.

Regardless, the Raptors showed up in a back-to-back scenario against Milwaukee and Indiana. The Raptors traveled to Milwaukee once again without Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas, facing a Bucks team who are shaping up to be real contenders. A team that has already squashed Toronto twice already this year.

This time was different, Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam both scored 30 points as the Raptors ran out 123-116 winners in a tough contest where the bench provided a cumulative five points in the whole game. It was probably their best win of the season, so that’s something to take.

Leonard was ruled out for the second leg of the back-to-back against Indiana. Lowry, however, returned for the first time since December 23, and while his box score doesn’t jump out at you, his return meant a lot more to the Raptors. Lowry elevates the play of everyone around him, evident in the fact that Toronto comfortably dispatched the Pacers 121-105. Defeating the Bucks and Pacers in consecutive nights reminded everyone how dangerous the Raptors can be, even when missing one of their two best players each night.

The week was rounded off like a khaki turtleneck, in ugly fashion. The Raptors took on a surprisingly resilient Atlanta Hawks team led by the bouncy John Collins. Turnovers proved to be the difference though as Atlanta gave the ball away 26(!) times on the night, Kawhi had a season-high six steals because of course, he did. It was the first time that Kawhi and Lowry have shared the court since December 9 when the Bucks defeated the Raptors.

We said goodbye to a former M.V.P and said hello to an NBA-Champion, we also another career-high from Siakam. I feel like I’m saying this every week now.