The Toronto Raptors deserve respect
The Toronto Raptors will be overlooked heading into the NBA season’s completion at Walt Disney World in Orlando. As defending champions, much of the league doesn’t view them as having a typical tenable stance that defending champions do.
After all, their best player Kawhi Leonard up and left this offseason.
But the Raptors should be feared. There’s a legitamite chance they can repeat as NBA champions this year.
Going into Orlando, the team has the third-best record in the NBA at 46-18. That’s slightly behind the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks and just ahead of the LA Clippers (who admittedly would have had a better record had they been healthy all season).
Furthermore, the Raptors get to go down to Orlando and prepare for the season’s resume earlier than other teams due to restrictions in travel in Canada from the ongoing pandemic. Getting acclimated with the environment and strange, unique arrangements of the campus environment in Orlando may be helpful and serve as an upper hand for the Dinos.
Beyond just their regular season, though, there are some stats that show why the NBA should fear the likelihood of the Raptors blitzing in the playoffs and securing a back-to-back title.
Raptors stats that show they should be feared: General shooting
We’ll start off with a mild one. We don’t need to scare oppositional teams off right at the top.
The Raptors aren’t necessarily known for their shooting. They aren’t a poor shooting team, though, sitting just below the league average in field goal percentage and 3-point percentage.
Their true shooting percentage is 9th-best in the NBA at 57.4 percent. It could be better, but reinforced with some of their defensive prowess, it’s good enough to get the job done.
The Raptors also have the 6th-best 3-point percentage.
Raptors stats that show they should be feared: Clutch shooting
Here’s the thing, though. In the clutch, the Raptors always deliver. At 63.5 percent in true shooting, the Raptors have the third-best TS% when the shots matter most. That ability to play up to the moment truly matters in the postseason.
Raptors stats that show they should be feared: Defensive rating
The Toronto Raptors rely on their defense more than almost anything else. Focused on locking all doors and windows, they don’t have the league’s best offense but have won games by keeping their opponents from doing what they want to do.
At 105.2, the Raptors currently have the league’s second-best defensive rating.
Raptors stats that show they should be feared: Steals
A big part of the Raptors’ defensive proficiency is their swiping. Logging 8.8 steals per game, the Raptors are second in steals this season. Fred VanVleet logs 1.8 per game himself, good enough for fourth among qualifying players in the NBA.
Raptors stats that show they should be feared: Opp. turnover percentage
Of course, if you’re going to force steals, you expect the opponent turnover percentage to be high.
The Raptors force the second-best opponent turnover percentage at 16.6 percent, forcing 16.8 turnovers per game.
Raptors stats that show they should be feared: Points off turnovers
Securing steals and forcing turnovers means nothing if you can’t turn it into something for your team. All is running smoothly on this front for the Raptors, as the team ranks second in points off turnovers at 19.6 per game.
Raptors stats that show they should be feared: Fast break points
Many of those points off turnovers end up being fast-break points. In this realm, the Raptors rank first in the NBA (19.4 fast break points per game).
While the game slows down a little in the postseason, the Raptors may still be able to poke the ball out and run the floor, quickly building up overwhelming leads that opponents have considerable trouble getting back from.
The Raptors are also fourth in and-one frequency (3.6 percent) in fast-break situations. Free points on top of opponent mistakes is always a good thing in the postseason.
Raptors stats that show they should be feared: Opp. points in the paint
If you can limit the easy shots for your opponent, there’s a good chance you’ll have solid odds at a victory.
The Raptors sit at second-best in points in the paint, allowing just 42.1 per game. The Raptors also force opponents to shoot the third-worst field goal percentage within 5 feet of the rim on the fourth-fewest attempts per game, meaning the team dissuades those shots in the first place and prevents them from falling when they do go up.