Game 41 has come and gone, the second half of the Toronto Raptors season started today against the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Raptors’ stand tall with their best ever season in franchise history.
There’s some obvious reasons why Toronto are flying high, like their go-to man DeMar DeRozan, playing like an MVP candidate and producing his best season as a pro. Or that head coach Dwane Casey has exceeded expectations in transforming the way his team plays basketball. But the deeper answer is their youth that’s helping them establish this perfect start. No one expected just how steady the Raptor’s first-to-third-year players would perform and it’s a testament to the coaching staff.
From the youth, OG Anunoby is the most noticeable surprise and seems to be the answer at small forward the franchise has been searching for throughout its history. Jakob Poeltl, the most effective counter-punch to big man Jonas Valanciunas, who’s a massive force down low who throws his seven-foot frame around in the paint. Then add Delon Wright, a matchup nightmare in the backcourt who cuts through defenses like a hot knife through butter. And then there’s Fred VanVleet, a reliable weapon for Casey off the bench who steps up in big moments.
All these players are under 25 and apart from all averaging more than 17 minutes per game, it’s their ability to perform and thrive across the court that should really have fans excited for the direction the team is heading in. Games previously played against the Warriors, Rockets, and Cavaliers this season have proven this as much.
The Raptors have the sixth-youngest roster in the NBA — hardly a recipe for immediate success — but these young players have provided a killer second unit, and moulded into the missing puzzle pieces that the Raptors need to succeed.
Catch you Thursday.