5 teams the Raptors are clearly worse than despite their records

The Toronto Raptors are short-handed, injury-riddled and ill-fitting. Even teams below them in the standings are better than they are - here's why.

Ochai Agbaji, Toronto Raptors and Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Ochai Agbaji, Toronto Raptors and Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages
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No. 1: The Charlotte Hornets are clearly better than the Raptors

At the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline, the Toronto Raptors wrapped up a series of four trades that offloaded a number of veteran players, including all but one of the players remaining from their 2019 title team. In exchange they brought back a number of young players (plus Kelly Olynyk) who hold promise but are not as good as the players they replaced.

By contrast, while the Hornets did move on from a few veterans at the deadline, they brought back young players who have been able to step in and improve on the level of play the Hornets had before. Tre Mann, Vasilije Micic, Aleksej Pokusevski and Davis Bertans collectively barely played for the Oklahoma City Thunder but are filling key roles for Charlotte. All four played at least 21 minutes in Charlotte's recent win over the Grizzlies in Memphis.

It's not that the Hornets are healthier than the Raptors; far from it. LaMelo Ball remains sidelined, young center Mark Williams is on the shelf and multiple other remaining veterans are unavailable. Instead, head coach Steve Clifford has taken a group of new players and made them gel together; five of their eight players who saw the court against the Grizzlies joined the team at the deadline or later.

Toronto has struggled to play at a high level given their combination of injuries and a lack of chemistry among its new players, but the Hornets have found ways to succeed despite those same hurdles. Miles Bridges is playing as well as anyone on the Raptors, Brandon Miller looks like a keeper and Grant Williams is instantly rehabillitating his career.

The Hornets join the other teams on this list as those with worse records than the Raptors but who are currently playing better than them, and in many cases much better. The excuses that Toronto and its fans are using could apply to these teams as well, but instead they are taking lemons and making lemonade in a way the Raptors can't seem to do themselves.

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