Toronto Raptors: Are They Legitimate NBA Title Contenders?


The Toronto Raptors are sitting comfortably at the top of the Eastern Conference, but are they a legitimate NBA title contender? 

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Fresh off a 48-win season, the Toronto Raptors have carried much of that success into this year, sitting comfortably at the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a 9-2 record.

Could this just be an early season hot streak, similar to what the Portland Trailblazers experienced last year?


However, it could also be a sign of great things to come for residents north of the border, where winning hasn’t been the norm since the early days of Chris Bosh.


From the start, Toronto’s offense has been completely dominant, averaging 106 points per game and ranking 5th in offensive rating out of all teams in the league.

Much of that can be attributed to their two main stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who have combined for nearly 40 points a night.

But their bench, led by Lou Williams and James Johnson, has also been a factor, providing a much needed scoring punch in the second unit.

With all of that in mind, it’s important to remember that head coach Dwane Casey is the true maestro behind this offense.

He’s really made it a priority for the Raptors to remain aggressive and get to the free throw line as much as possible, and it’s clearly paid dividends as evident by their record.

Currently, the team is scoring a 2nd best, 22.1 percent of their points from the charity stripe, not to mention, they’re knocking down roughly 80 percent of their attempts.

If Toronto can keep this up, they’re on pace to shatter their previous shooting numbers from last season, and possibly overtake the Kings as the best free throw shooting team in the league.


Overall, Casey has also done an excellent job getting the Raptors to play just as well, if not better, on the defensive end of the floor.

They rank top-10 in both steals and blocks per game, a feat that’s only been accomplished by 3 other teams this season.

Plus, their perimeter defense has been nothing short of top notch, holding opponents to an impressive 24.7 percent shooting from 25-29 feet.

"Via Toronto Raptors YouTube:“We’re hunting for consistency and that’s going to be a huge area of growth, especially on the defensive end. Just having a consistent approach, a consistent focus on defense will be crucial for our success.”"

The Verdict

While it’s still relatively early in the season, the Toronto Raptors have been nothing short of spectacular.

They have a chance to be strong contenders in the Eastern Conference if they continue their outstanding play, however in the meantime, they have to stay hungry and look for areas to improve.

As Dwane Casey said, consistency will be vital for this team’s long term outlook, so it’s crucial they don’t let this hot streak get to their heads.

If they can do that, there’s no question that the Toronto Raptors destined for greatness, and could very well make a strong playoff push once April rolls around.

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