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The Toronto Raptors were slated to be a playoff team this season, but nobody expected them to become this good, this early. The Raptors are a team that looks unstoppable, as they have the best record in the NBA and are looking like the team to beat in the NBA. After what many consider a drama-filled offseason, the Raptors have seemed to leave all that behind and focus solely on basketball.
The Raptors' start to the season has been one of the best in the league, literally. They currently have a 23-7 record, which as mentioned previously, is tops in the league. The Raptors have one of the best offenses in the league, as they rank third in the NBA in points per game (115.6). Their defense is no slouch either, as they rank seventh in points allowed per game (107). The all-around style of play Toronto has been playing by this season has been efficient, allowing them to get off to this great start.
Their point guard Kyle Lowry has been playing what I call "angry" basketball, and it has helped him and his team. Lowry is averaging 14.2 points per game, which is his lowest since his first season in Toronto, but he is also averaging a league-high ten assists per game. Lowry might not be happy about his best friend DeMar DeRozan being traded away, and I'm assuming he is using that anger to fuel his play this season.
The biggest addition to the Raptors is undoubtedly Kawhi Leonard. Leonard was brought into Toronto this offseason after being traded from the Spurs and he has returned to form after injuries derailed his previous season. He is currently seventh in the league in scoring per game (26.1) and is also sixth in steals (1.6). Kawhi is playing up to his potential again, and that is what has helped the Raptors get off to this fast start.
What has the Raptors playing well is not only the play of Kawhi and Lowry, but it is the play of the rest of their team as well. Head coach Nick Nurse has done a great job finding a solid rotation for his team.
Serge Ibaka, Danny Green, Pascal Siakam, are only a few of the players that have been playing well for the Raptors. The Raptors have arguably one of the best benches in the league, and that bench play will be critical when it gets late in the season and come playoff time.
With the bench finding their groove early in the season, Toronto has put together some impressive performances against the best teams in the league. Most recently, they dismantled the Warriors on Wednesday night, beating them by 20 all without Leonard in the lineup. This only proves the fact that the team is strong, and is only stronger with Kawhi in the lineup.
The Raptors have been waiting for their time and according to Kevin Durant, their time is now. After being demolished 113-93 by Toronto Durant explained to the media how "They've been ballin' before that, and they're going to be ballin' after they beat us. So they're not an up-and-coming team. They're here." (ESPN.com)
Everything isn't fine and dandy in Toronto, as their big man Jonas Valanciunas injured his thumb Wednesday night and is out at least four weeks. Kawhi Leonard is battling a hip injury, so they still have some time before their team is fully healthy. However, it should be safe to say that the Raptors should be the team everyone is looking to beat in the NBA.