The NBA Trade Deadline and All-Star Weekend have come and gone, so that means we’re in the home stretch of the 2019-20 NBA season. In this serious post-All-Star Break, we’ll go over the outlook for every team in the NBA. Here, we’ll provide a short glimpse at championship odds and playoff chances for each team. Also highlighted are key injuries to note and a fantasy basketball player to watch the rest of the season.
Where do the Toronto Raptors stand at the All-Star Break?
Playoff Chances: 100%
Championship Odds: +2000
Division Odds: -143
Conference Championship Winner: +650
It might seem like an overreaction to suggest we’ve never seen a team have to defend their title under stranger circumstances than the Raptors, but the Kawhi Leonard free agency saga still looms large over the perception of this squad. Without the services of its departed Finals MVP, Toronto wasn’t supposed to roll over in 2019-20; however, it definitely wasn’t supposed to be competing at as high a level as it has so far this season.
Feeding off the second-best defense in basketball by points allowed per 100 possessions (105.1), the Raptors have exceeded expectations all year long and have amassed an impressive record by basically just winning the contests they’re favored to win. To that point, Toronto is 31-3 when facing off with teams below .500, a huge aspect of the 15-game victory streak the club saw snapped in Brooklyn on Wednesday. The Raptors do likely lack the top-end talent necessary to get past a dominant team such as the Bucks in the Eastern Conference playoffs, yet a flexible roster and a well regarded coaching staff aren’t assets to ignore.
Prediction: Toronto finishes third in the East and exits the playoffs in the Conference Semi-Finals.
Key Injuries for Toronto Raptors
Marc Gasol, C (hamstring)
Norman Powell, SG/SF (finger)
Toronto’s lost more man games than any other “contending” team in the league, with six of their key rotation pieces having missed double-digit contests to injury entering the All-Star Break. It knows how to survive a rash of ailments, but that doesn’t make the situation ideal. Currently, the Raptors’ IR features two prominent names: Gasol and Powell.
On the surface - and with Serge Ibaka enjoying a career-best season - it might not seem like Gasol’s absence is all that pressing, yet the veteran tends to find his value in the margins. Not only is the former All-Star shooting a tantalizing 40.3% from 3-point range in 2019-20, but Toronto’s conceding a mere 101.8 points per 100 possessions with Gasol on the court. As for Powell, he’s averaging career-highs in points per game (15.3), field goal attempts per game (11.1) and effective field goal rate (58.9%). Adding volume and becoming more efficient in the process is never a bad thing.
Fantasy Basketball Spotlight: Pascal Siakam
After making the jump from rotation player to Most Improved in 2018-19, Siakam has once again been asked to shift his role. With the aforementioned Leonard now patrolling the coast of California, the Cameroonian is the new clear No. 1 offensive option in Toronto’s attack. However, while the added shot volume has effected Siakam’s field goal percentage, the counting stats he’s producing across the board are almost unprecedented. In fact, Siakam is one of only six players this season averaging at least 2.0 made 3-pointers and 7.0 rebounds per game. The other five? Leonard, Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Kristaps Porzingis and Kevin Love. That’s some pretty sound company.
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