The Toronto Raptors are in Need of a Miracle

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The Toronto Raptors are still trying to find their footing this NBA season, although it may be too late as they sit with the worst record in the league.

After being crowned as NBA champions in 2019, the Toronto Raptors are in need of a miracle desperately as they now sit with one of the worst records in the NBA.

While it would be a stretch to call them the worst team in the NBA, this team is heavily underperforming as they sit with a 2-8 record to start the season. This comes following two one-point game losses against both the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers and puts them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. 

Since their championship run, the Raptors have not made many changes. They lost their superstar in Kawhi Leonard which was evitable, yet have remained with a core four that have excelled more than anything else since.

The Raptors lost out on both of their rotational centers in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka since however, both key pieces during their championship run. To combat this issue, the team has signed centers Aron Baynes and Alex Len during free agency this offseason, and the results have not looked good at all.

Baynes has yet to find his groove on the court, only averaging 5.3 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 37% from the field and 18% from three during his seven games with the team. This is a major regression from last year on the Phoenix Suns where he put up 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 48% from the field and 35% from three.

Len, a former top-five pick, adds nothing but height on the court as the Raptors have gained nothing from playing him. Len currently averages 2.3 points and 1.6 rebounds and seems to be playing out of desperation due to the lack of depth at the center position.

While these two have not been the answer for this team, the Raptors have found a gem at the center position in Chris Boucher. Boucher is having a career-high year, doing everything on the court averaging 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks on spectacular shooting percentages. 

Having one center carry all the weight gets the team nowhere though, as the team lacks a big man to fill in those shoes when Boucher is off the court. This problem will remain until either Len or Baynes manages to step up their game.

Trades for this team are unlikely as of right now, however, the Raptors should be shopping for a center to put alongside Boucher if Baynes and Len do not pan out to be what they expected before the trade deadline.

Centers are not the only problem for the team however, the issues that this team faces stem from much greater things as well, such as their poor offense and defense.

The Raptors have always been known as one of if not the best defensive team in the NBA for years now, ending last season with the second-best defensive rating in the league. They currently sit with the twenty-second best defensive rating in the league.

Additionally, transitional offense this season lacks due to the absent defense and the team continues to struggle to score consistently. Individuals on this team such as small forward OG Anunoby and shooting guard Fred VanVleet need to step up and take a bigger role when it comes to the offense, although poor shooting percentages are currently painting a different story.

All-Star power forward Pascal Siakam needs to step his game up and become the star player the media has painted him out to be. While the start of the season has been rough for him, Siakam is slowly easing back into the player many know him as.

The Raptors currently hold the seventeenth best offensive ranking in the NBA, a slight drop from their rating last year as the fourteenth best.

While things do look grim for the Raptors, hope is not lost entirely. The Raptors, despite on a losing streak, have seemed more composed each and every game on both ends of the floor. Is it enough to take them back into playoff contention, or is it too late?

The NBA season this year is full of surprises as COVID-19 roams free. It is far too early to tell where a lot of teams stand in the league as many of these teams are very inconsistent to begin the season. Anyone can come out on top and the Raptors still have the chance to battle it out.

Even if it is too late, the Raptors have the 2021 NBA Draft to look forward to if they fail to make the playoffs. This becomes an opportunity to add more weapons to this deadly Raptors lineup and bounce back next year in a top tier draft class featuring prospects such as Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley.

No matter the outcome, this Raptors core is not done for just yet.

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