Despite all the injuries, the Toronto Raptors just keep winning games. Which players have exceeded expectations in 2019-20? Who has struggled to make their mark?
At the start of the 2019-20 season, a reporter asked Nick Nurse, head coach of the defending champion Toronto Raptors, a question about his team and the differences compared to a year ago when Toronto, led by Kawhi Leonard, won its first NBA title.
“Opportunities abound,” responded Nurse. To put it mildly, that was a very accurate statement from Toronto’s bench boss.
Losing both Leonard and Danny Green to Los Angeles left a big void in Toronto’s lineup – OG Anunoby has quickly become an elite NBA defender, like Leonard, but has struggled with his consistency on offence. Meanwhile, Fred VanVleet, for the first time in his career, was a full-time starter following Green’s departure to the Lakers.
Accompanying Anunoby and VanVleet, Norman Powell was getting ready for an increase in responsibility. Powell, despite several injuries, has been sensational so far this season and will be counted on come playoff time to be a spark at both ends of the floor. Currently out with a fractured finger, Powell is averaging 28 minutes per game in 2019-20, the highest of his career.
Then there’s Terence Davis…more on the rookie phenom later on.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has older Raptor fans experiencing visions of Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams. The perpetually-in-motion forward has won over Toronto’s fan base with an unrelenting hustle, as well as his underrated passing ability. After some early training camp struggles, Hollis-Jefferson finally turned Nick Nurse from a skeptic into a believer.
The Toronto Raptors will go for a 16th straight win tonight, a truly remarkable accomplishment considering all the injuries the team has been forced to cope with this year. But not everything has been positive.
Let’s dig into some other surprises from the Toronto Raptors season to date, shall we?