Raptors Mid-Season Report Cards
After 55 grueling, injury-bug-riddled regular season games, the Raptors have emerged with a respectable 39-16 record, good for 3rd best in the NBA. While Toronto is attempting to move beyond using regular season success as a barometer for progress, it’s no doubt encouraging to see the team meshing together so well in the necessary precursor games before the lights dim, and their post-season mettle can be tested.
Without further ado, here are the individual letter grades for each member of the Raptors roster, barring any players that have not yet logged at least 300 minutes of court time (you’ve got to contribute to get a grade – my apologies to fans of Lorenzo Brown, Malachi Richardson, Chris Boucher, Patrick McCaw and Jordan Loyd).
Remember that these grades are based solely on regular season performance so far, and are thus incomplete; there is plenty of potential for change over the remaining 27 regular season games (and, of course, playoffs).
Kawhi Leonard: A
The Klaw is only held back from a perfect grade due to the fact that he’s missed 14 games while wearing Raptor’s red. Toronto has certainly been exercising cautious restraint, working to keep Leonard healthy for the playoffs while finding him enough game action to maintain team chemistry. It’s hard to imagine the 27-year-old soon-to-be free agent having a better season when he has been on the court; he’s putting up career high averages of 27.3 ppg and 7.9 rpg, while also adding 3.1 apg and playing his killer brand of frenzied defense. He’s been well worth the price of admission for these Raptors.
Kyle Lowry: B+
Despite averaging a career-high 9.2 apg this season, Lowry has struggled to find his role in the Raptors’ re-shaped offense, as indicated by his lowest scoring output in five seasons. While playing the role of facilitator is useful on a Toronto team theoretically loaded with shooters, the Raptors’ need Lowry to flash the remaining portion of his offensive repertoire in order to maximize the upside of their talented roster.
Danny Green: A-
Danny Green will be making his first-ever appearance this year in the NBA’s 3-Point Contest, and that honour adequately sums up his work for the Raptors so far; he’s been a rock-solid, if unspectacular, 3-and-D wing who’s been putting down long balls at a 41.8% clip. His shooting has been elite, and his defensive capabilities are vital to the success of this franchise, which will prove doubly true when the playoffs arrive. The Raptors boast a ridiculous +12.3 Net Rating with the Green Ranger on the court. Put simply, he’s been having an extraordinary season for a role player.
Pascal Siakam: A+
The only player on this Toronto roster to earn a perfect grade, Siakam has taken his game to another level this season, and his developmental timeline seems destined to end with a starry ceiling. He is firmly in the running for Most Improved Player, averaging a line of 15.4ppg/6.9rpg/2.8apg while slashing 56/33/79, numbers that have led many to speculate whether he is the third best player on the Raptors’ roster (behind Leonard and Lowry). His value is unbelievable, as he is only making $1.5 million this season, and is in line to make $2.3 million next year (per Spotrac).
Greg Monroe: D+
The man affectionately known as Moose is having a pretty dismal year in the 6ix. The only thing saving him from an even lower grade is his minimal role; signed to be a 3rd string center, you can’t really fault the franchise for giving the veteran big man some playing time on the end of bench. The Raptors should by no means use Monroe in any high-stakes situations, as his suspect mobility and poor handles render him basically unusable in game-swinging moments. The Raptors have a -8.8 Net Rating in the minutes Monroe is on the court.
Serge Ibaka: B+
Ibaka’s re-serge-ence (forgive the pun) is a fundamental reason the Raptors are viewed as a favourite to emerge from the Eastern Conference. Playing more small-ball centre than ever, he is averaging a career high in points per game (16.1) while putting down his shots from within the arc at a best-ever clip (59.4%). His elevated level of play can be attributed to the stylings of his new head coach, who will be evaluated a little further down the page.
Delon Wright: B
Delon has been solid, if unspectacular this season; his lack of demonstrable improvement has coincided with the regression of the Raptors’ vaunted bench unit. Thus, he is assigned a middling grade – if he were to reach his ceiling, the Raptors would boast one of the league’s foremost guard rotations, but that is quite a big “if”. Wright is 26 years old, fast approaching his prime, and surely has strides to make if he would like to be paid as a starter or even 2nd string guard.
Fred VanVleet: B
Similar to Wright, VanVleet has failed to make significant forward progress in his development after a 2017-18 season in which he finished as a finalist for the 6MOTY award. Although there are higher expectations placed on VanVleet (he is viewed to as a potential heir to Toronto’s point guard throne as Lowry begins to decline), he is saved here by his comparatively high output (10.3ppg/2.7rpg/4.5apg on 40/37/83 shooting) and relative youth (not yet 25 years of age).
CJ Miles: C-
CJ Kilometres is overpaid, shooting poorly, and playing lackluster defense on a team with Finals expectations. He is racking up DNPs at an unprecedented rate and his recent stretch of decent play is the only thing saving him from a lower grade here. If he can get back to looking like the sweet shooting veteran wing the Raptors signed on for in time for the playoffs, this grade could change in a hurry.
OG Anunoby: C+
Considered the biggest disappointment on the Raptors’ roster so far, OG has regressed from his tantalizing rookie year performance. Look past the counting stats and his efficiencies will sting one’s eyeballs. Considering the hype around Anunoby centered around his continued improvement, and what it could mean to a potential Finals contender, it’s no surprise as to why he gets the grade he does here.
Norman Powell: C+
After a rocky start to the season, beset by injuries and adjusting to a new head coach, Powell is finally starting to come into his own on this Raptors’ squad. Consider his grade tentative, and likely to improve drastically, as he continues to gain confidence and sees more playing time. In contrast to Anunoby, his counting stats portray a lack of improvement, but his efficiency has been remarkable (he’s slashing 50/38/78). Keep an eye on this particular Raptor – he seems destined for far more than he’s shown so far.
Jonas Valanciunas: B
JV’s thumb injury has left him in street clothes for more time than any other Raptor this season, and his unavailability has had palpable effects on Toronto’s roster. When he has played, the Raptors have a +5.4 Net Rating, and JV has racked up a PER of 24.8 (the league-average PER being 15.0). Since he went down, the Raptors have gone 16-9, after starting 23-7 with him playing big minutes off the bench. He is by far the most impactful Raptor we have yet to truly evaluate, given his poor injury luck, relative youth, and notable role in the Raptors’ rotation.
Nick Nurse: A-
Nick Nurse may not be a Coach of the Year candidate (as I previously opined here), but his hiring has ushered in an era of pace and space basketball responsible for a fair portion of Toronto’s success thus far. He has adeptly handled the injury onslaught, his lineups are relatively airtight, and his desired play style should probably fit the roster better than it has thus far (the Raps rank 6th in the league in 3-point attempts per game, but have only hit them at a 34.5% clip, good for 22nd place overall).