We are 11 games in to the 2018-2019 NBA season and the Toronto Raptors have confirmed themselves as one of the best teams in the NBA. There’s a few things we can determine now that we’re in full swing of the new season.
Kawhi, Kawhi, Kawhi
Kawhi Leonard has made his presence known in the Eastern Conference. Leonard is averaging a cool 26 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from three. Leonard looks like he hasn’t missed a beat, and could make a run for MVP.
The only caveat with Leonard’s play so far is his durability. He’s sat out three games, and in terms of the MVP race, this could end up hurting him.
Raptors fans shouldn’t fret over Leonard’s missed games. Allowing him to rest on back-to-back games will keep his body refreshed for later on in the season, and postseason.
This roster was built to focus on April, May and even June. Allowing Leonard to miss a few games this early shouldn’t be a cause of concern.
A New Toronto
Leonard’s presence on the floor has made a world of difference. Being a top three defender in the league takes a weight off everyone’s shoulders. His defense on Ben Simmons was immaculate, and he disrupted the entire flow of Philadelphia’s offense.
Leonard also gives the Raptors a new-look offense. His ability to create in isolation, be consistent from three and get to the rim with ease gives the Raptors a threat that they’ve never had before.
New head coach Nick Nurse has impressed fans so far. Using multiple different starting lineups and new offensive schemes are a breath of fresh air.
One of the most important changes he’s made is realizing that Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas play much better when they’re not sharing the floor. Pascal Siakam has been slotting in at the starting four position and flourishing, looking much more polished than last year.
Serge Ibaka has been somewhat of a controversial player during his Raptors tenure. His defense was questioned, and often went into phases of chucking up inefficient shots. It’s been a different story so far.
Ibaka is averaging a career-high 18 points per game, and shooting 57 percent from the field. He topped 30 points in a game for the first time since 2014 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 4, dropping 34 points on 15-of-17 shooting, along with 10 rebounds.
The Raptors next crucial matchup will be Nov. 16 against the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have arguably the only roster equal in talent with the Raptors in the East, and with the game being in Boston, it will be a tough divisional game.
Gambling this season? Want to try it just to see what it feels like? Go to MyBookie.ag and use promo code ARMCHAIR25 at checkout. They will match your deposit dollar for dollar. Putting in $100? You’ll now have $200.