Toronto Raptors: Around the NBA, including an impressive start in L.A.

Every Wednesday, we take you beyond the Toronto Raptors to look at the rest of the NBA. This week we checkout early surprise teams, who’s winning in the East, and how Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are doing.

The Toronto Raptors are 3-1 and among the best in the league. But what’s been happening around the rest of the NBA? We take a look in our weekly NBA update.

Early surprise teams

Raise your hand if you had the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves as the two teams atop the Western Conference? Now, put them down liar. We’re just a few games in, but there are already a handful of teams that look better than originally expected.

The Spurs, Timberwolves, fully-healthy Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks, are currently the league leaders in, “Oh, they might be better than we thought.” This won’t continue for all of them, it might not continue for any of them, but it is something to keep an eye.

Top of the Eastern Conference

What about who the Raptors will be competing against? Well, the top of the Eastern Conference looks to be about shaping out as advertised. The Philadelphia 76ers are undefeated and in first place, the Milwaukee Bucks are tied for second, and the Boston Celtics/Miami Heat appear to be Toronto’s primary competition for the three-seed.

Like the surprise teams, this is all very fluid. However, to paraphrase Denny Green, “The East is what we thought it was.” We’ll need a little longer to gain more clarity beyond what we originally expected.

Checking in on old friends

Understandable if you missed it, but Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green actually no longer play for the Toronto Raptors anymore. Yes, hard to believe, but both players took their talents to Long Beach, each electing to play for a different Los Angeles squad.

Well, through eight games, the two former-dinos are 8-2. Green is shooting out of his mind (50-percent from 3 so far this season), and Kawhi has learned to create for others (averaging 7.5 assists per game after averaging just 3.3 last year). You can argue (I’d tend to agree with you) both would be on better teams if they just stayed in Toronto. But they’re also doing well where they are at.

Check-in at Raptors Rapture every Wednesday for our weekly NBA update.