Photo credit: me
If we can look past the Raptors 132-121 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night, Toronto as a team has never looked better (this season). Albeit, they did look pretty gassed but they were on a three-game win streak which included their best win of the year over the Nets.
It was tough to think of one player to isolate here, so I copped out.
Stock Up: The Toronto Raptors
Like I said – it was tough to choose just one player so why not choose them all? (Except for one poor, unfortunate Raptor).
From the bench to the starters, the Raptors are not looking like the same team that started the season 2-8. Nick Nurse has been able to bring out some quality play from some unexpected guys – DeAndre Bembry being the latest bench surprise – on the way to an 8-5 turnaround.
He may not make a significant impact on the stat sheet every night, but he has shown that he can step in and ease the load for guys like Pascal Siakam when they are struggling.
Speaking of Pascal
He may have had his issues to start the season but over the last five games the forward has been averaging 24.4 points per game; shooting over 50 percent in three of them. His performance against Brooklyn was his most impressive game of the season where he proved he can score on just about anyone in the league.
Pascal had 33 points and 11 boards in their win over the Nets.
A Career Year
It seems like everyone and their grandmother has set a career high for the Raptors recently. Obviously Fred VanVleet made the news after dropping 54 (a Raps record) against the Orlando Magic, Yuta Watanabe has pretty much set every career-high he could have this year, and just last night – Chris Boucher humbly scored 29 in their loss.
On the positive end, there have honestly been too many players playing well for Toronto, I couldn’t choose just one. But on the negative end… there has been one seven-foot Australian Centre whose stock has been fluctuating more than my heart rate when I watch him play.
Stock Down: Aron Baynes
I don’t even know where to begin with this guy. He seems like a really cool dude, with a really funny fanpage, but he has been incredibly inconsistent for the Raptors.
His season high in points is 13, which came in the second game of the season. Since then he has only broke 10 points twice, which would be fine if he could at least provide consistent rebounding.
Toronto’s biggest issue all season has been controlling the boards and frankly, it was just rude of Baynes to randomly grab 16 of them against the Magic if he isn’t going to at least try to do that on a consistent basis.
If the centre wasn’t Toronto’s starter, I would have less to complain about, but that’s not the case. Baynes has started all 19 games he’s played for Toronto, and although I admit I may be a little hard on him, I would like to see more production from a player who sees the court as often as he does.
Brighter Days Ahead
Overall, things are looking up if you’ve been all-in on the Raptors. It was a slow start but Toronto has started to put together some convincing wins over quality teams. In a season where it seems like everything is going against them – Nick Nurse and the boys have stepped up in a big way.
Playing 72 games, all of which essentially being away games, is no easy task. And yet, the Raptors are currently sitting in the 8th seed. Consistency is key for Toronto, and if they can find their way into the playoffs they could prove to be dangerous.