The heart of a champion; this team never gives up. Toronto is a prime example of a squad with a ‘next man up’ mentality. The Raptors have the 5th most games lost due to injury with 168. Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Fred Vanvleet, and Norman Powell have all missed significant time this year. Those 6 players comprise the top spots of the 9-man rotation of Coach Nick Nurse. Terence Davis, an undrafted rookie, is the only player on the team to have suited up in every game this season

Nick Nurse is the Coach of the Year.

Nurse can adapt like no other coach can. He doesn’t shy away from any challenge. The man is a basketball genius and has to be at the very top of the Coach of the Year conversation. Nick Nurse holds his players accountable. He called out his star, Pascal Siakam, early in the year for his foul-trouble. If you don’t buy in to Nurse’s schemes, you won’t play. He employed a full-court press when down 30 points to Dallas; they came back and won that game. The Raptors pressed Indiana with 2 minutes to go, down 11 points. They won that game as well. A team’s will to win can be measured by the mentality of their head coach.

raptorshq.com

Kyle Lowry is the Greatest Raptor of All-Time.

Lowry is 33 years old and all signs pointed to him declining and handing over the keys to Pascal Siakam. Siakam missed 12 games with injury and Lowry kept them afloat. There is no question that his #7 will be the first Raptor jersey to hang in the rafters of Scotiabank Arena. KLow is the unquestioned leader of a team that has won 13 in a row and sits at 38-14. He sustained an injury last night and had to leave the game with whiplash after colliding with Serge Ibaka while falling forward. X-rays came back negative so there’s no damage, but he may need to miss some time.

Toronto Raptors bench stars, Terrence Davis (dunking), Norman Powell (#24), and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (#4).
theathletic.co.uk

Unrivalled Depth.

When the season first started, the Raptors had a 7-man rotation with their starters playing nearly 40 minutes a night. This looked to be a major concern for a team that had relied so heavily on its’ depth in the past. Then, injuries happened. It all began against the Lakers. Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka were sidelined. Norman Powell moved in to the starting lineup, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson guarded LeBron James tremendously, Chris Boucher was blocking every shot put up, and Matt Thomas was looking like JJ Redick. That game gave Nick Nurse the confidence to roll with his unproven players which has paid major dividends up to this point of the season.

What’s Their Ceiling as a Team?

Who knows where this team will ultimately end up? It’s a question no one has the answer to. One thing I can guarantee, is that they leave it all on the floor for one another, and they don’t get intimated by the sight of any opponent.

Feature Photo Credit: ca.sports.yahoo.com

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