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Toronto Raptors

2019 vs 2020: Raptors coming out of the All-Star break

Despite the fact that it falls after the 41 game mark of the regular season, All-Star break is the de facto midway point of the NBA season.

It's considered a checkpoint for a reason, as it becomes a time for comparison and evaluation. Coming out of the break, the Toronto Raptors have finally gotten much-deserved respect thanks largely in part to winning 15 of their last 16.

This year's Raptors are off to a better start than last year's championship team, despite the number of changes abound.

In addition to the departures of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, this year's team has dealt with a number of injuries to each of its key players, with eight missing at least 10 of the first 55 games.

How have they done it? Let's take a look into what's changed - and what's stayed the same - from last year's championship team at the unofficial midway point.

By the numbers

2018-19 NBA Rank 2019-20 NBA Rank
Record 43-16 (.729) No. 2 in East 40-15 (.727) No. 2 in East
Home Record 24-5 (.828) - 21-7 (.750) -
PPG 114.3 6th 112.9 11th
OPP PPG 108.7 10th 106.6 5th
ORTG 112.5 5th 111.4 12th
DRTG 107.3 8th 105.1 2nd
3PM/G 11.5 13th 13.7 5th
3P% 34.6 22nd 37.7 3rd

First thing's first, the most important number is that Toronto is now 25 games above-.500 thanks to its recently snapped 15-game win streak, owning a win percentage that is just under last year's team coming out of the All-Star break.

What stayed the same? The Raptors have been second in the East behind the Milwaukee Bucks at this point of the season in back-to-back years, only this year the gap (7.0 games back) is much larger than last year (1.0 game back).

Here's what stands out:

  • Toronto again boasts a top-10 scoring offence and scoring defence
  • The defence is what this team hangs its hat on, to an even greater extent this year. The Raptors boast the league's second-rated defence coming out of this year's All-Star break after being ranked eighth at this time last year.
  • This year's team has become an elite 3-point shooting unit, as it ranks in the top five in both 3-pointers made per game and 3-point percentage.

Replacing lost production

2018-19 2019-20
Kawhi Leonard 27.0 PTS, 7.7 REB, 3.3 AST, 1.9 STL, 16 games missed Pascal Siakam 23.5 PTS, 7.5 REB, 3.5 AST, 1.0 STL, 11 games missed
Pascal Siakam 16.1 PTS, 7.0 REB, 2.8 AST, 1.0 STL, 2 games missed Kyle Lowry 19.6 PTS, 7.6 AST, 4.7 REB, 1.2 STL, 12 games missed
Serge Ibaka 16.0 PTS, 8.0 REB, 1.5 AST, 1.3 BLK, 4 games missed Fred VanVleet 18.0 PTS, 6.8 AST, 3.7 REB in 36.0 MPG, 10 games missed
Kyle Lowry 14.3 PTS, 9.2 AST, 4.5 REB, 1.4 STL, 12 games missed Serge Ibaka 16.1 PTS, 8.0 REB, 1.4 AST, 0.8 BLK, 11 games missed
Fred VanVleet 10.5 PTS, 4.6 AST, 2.7 REB in 26.8 MPG, 8 games missed Norman Powell 15.3 PTS, 3.9 REB, 1.7 AST, 40.1 3P%, 17 games missed
Marc Gasol 10.0 PTS, 6.3 REB, 1.7 AST in 20.1 MPG over 3 games OG Anunoby 10.2 PTS, 5.4 REB, 1.5 AST, 53 starts
Danny Green 9.8 PTS, 4.1 REB, 1.4 AST, 42.1 3P%, 2 games missed Terence Davis 7.9 PTS, 3.5 REB, 1.7 AST, 41.9 3P%, 0 games missed
Norman Powell 8.4 PTS, 1.9 REB, 1.6 AST, 34.9 3P%, 22 games missed Marc Gasol 7.8 PTS, 6.5 REB, 3.5 AST, 20 games missed
OG Anunoby 7.1 PTS, 3.1 REB in 20.3 MPG - 5 starts in 48 games Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 7.6 PTS, 4.9 REB, 1.8 AST, 12 games missed
Chris Boucher 3.8 PTS, 1.6 REB in 5.5 MPG over 17 games as two-way Chris Boucher 6.3 PTS, 4.3 REB in 12.9 MPG in 47 games played
Patrick McCaw 2.1 PTS, 2.2 REB in 11.2 MPG over 10 games Patrick McCaw 4.9 PTS, 2.3 AST, 2.2 REB in 24.1 MPG, 24 games missed

Before the season started, many wondered whether or not the Raptors could score enough with Kawhi and Danny Green now in Los Angeles.

The answer is a resounding yes, thanks to savvy moves and individual improvement throughout the roster:

  • As a No. 1 option, Pascal Siakam has again made a leap in increasing his scoring average by over 7.0 points per game.
  • After taking a step back last year, Kyle Lowry returned to his scoring ways to become the team's second-leading scorer.
  • Embracing his role as a full-time starter, Fred VanVleet has increased his production across the board with more playing time.
  • Serge Ibaka is the definition of consistency. At 30, he is still contributing just as he was last season.
  • Norman Powell has gone from good to great from beyond the arc to nearly double his scoring production.
  • A starter's role suits OG Anunoby well, and he'll only continue to get better.

As for savvy moves, undrafted rookie Terence Davis has looked the part of a top-10 pick while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has become a bit of a do-it-all high-energy glue guy for the team, showing a willingness to do whatever's asked of him.

Depth is again a strength.

At this point last year, 13 Raptors had scored 15 or more points in a game; this year, 12 Raptors have scored 15 or more points in a game.

The Big Picture

Ultimately, it's an 82-game season and nothing truly meaningful is won by the All-Star break but this Raptors team is again positioning itself for a deep run come April.

Toronto has built a 1.5-game lead over the Boston Celtics for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, a desired spot in the playoff bracket that would delay a potential postseason meeting with the juggernaut Milwaukee Bucks until the Eastern Conference Finals.

Having home-court advantage in the first two rounds of last season afforded the Raptors a Game 7 at home in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Toronto is again an elite home team with a record of 21-7 at Scotiabank Arena. Even more impressive? Its 19-8 record away from home.

As last year indicates, championship teams find ways to win on the road; this year's team has done just that. Championship teams also take care of business against lesser opponents. Ahead of the break, the Raptors are 31-3 against teams with records below .500, a figure on par with last year's team that finished 36-4 against such teams.

The Raptors are on pace to win 60 games, which would be the most in franchise history. When taking change and injuries into consideration, it's a remarkable feat.

Can they parlay that into another deep postseason run?

Stay tuned.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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