Toronto Raptors: Around the NBA, including trade market heating up

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

Every week we take you beyond the Toronto Raptors to look at the rest of the NBA. This week’s highlights include the trade market heating up, the “race” for the 8-seed, and a good Indiana Pacers team.

The Toronto Raptors are currently 18-8 and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. But what’s been happening around the rest of the NBA? We take a look in our NBA update.

NBA trade market heats up

December 15th is the unofficial start to trade season in the NBA. The 15th is the day that most players who were signed in the offseason can be dealt, and after a crazy 2019 which saw half the league change teams via free agency, that means a lot of players just became available.

Kevin Love, Jrue Holiday, and Myles Turner have all been discussed to varying degrees. Even Tristan Thompson was “rumored” to be a Toronto Raptors’ target. However, those rumors were quickly proven false.

It’s important to take scuttlebutt and rumblings with a grain of salt, particularly if it doesn’t come from an established name like Adrian Wojnarowski or Shams Charania. Trade season is heating up, but we still likely have some time before we see any real action.

The “race” for the 8-seed in the East

The Eastern Conference appears to be deeper at the top than it has been in quite some time. The Bucks are dominant, there’s a tremendous race for the second seed, and after last year’s snooze-fest of a first-round, we could see two Eastern Conference contenders battle in the opening matchup of this year’s playoffs.

The race for the 8-seed has not been quite as exciting. The Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets, and the Detroit Pistons are all “racing” for the 8-seed. Orlando currently holds the advantage with a record of 12-15. None of these teams have looked playoff-caliber to this point, but in a league where more than half of the teams get in, sometimes a few clunkers find their way to the big dance.

It’s fitting that the Milwaukee Bucks will likely earn a cupcake opponent easier than the rest of the conference. They’ve dominated throughout the regular season, and if the playoffs started today, they’d almost certainly do the same in round one… Of course, it is a long season still.

Watch out for the Indiana Pacers

Everyone seems to forget about the Indiana Pacers. We know the Boston Celtics are back. The Miami Heat seem to have found something special. And of course, the Toronto Raptors continuing to compete despite the loss of Kawhi Leonard has been a great story.

But can the 19-9 Pacers get some love? They’ve been rampaged with injuries, missing Myles Turner for stretches, missing Jeremy Lamb for a handful of games, and most importantly, playing the entire season without their star Victor Oladipo. And yet, they’re 10 games above .500, the same as the Heat, Celtics, and Raptors.

They’ve played an easy schedule so far, sure. But what Indiana has done without some of their key pieces has been remarkable. When Oladipo returns, they’re in the same class as the non-Bucks members of the conference.

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