(All stats and records through Jan. 14; for report cards for all 30 teams click here.)
Offense: 110.9, 3rd Overall
Defense: 103.2, 5th Overall
W-L | Pct. | GB
29-12 | .707 | 3.5
Jonas Valanciunas' role remains somewhat limited, but he's had some big games. Serge Ibaka gives the Raptors the ability to play small, and rookie OG Anunoby has been a versatile forward ready to contribute from Day 1.
DeMar DeRozan is an MVP candidate, scoring more efficiently than he ever has and showing improved playmaking. Kyle Lowry has seen his numbers drop, but should benefit from fewer minutes come playoff time.
The Raptors have managed to improve a defense that ranked eighth last season. More switching has allowed them to avoid rotating as much as they have in the past, which has helped them defend the 3-point line better.
The Raptors' bench has been somewhat inconsistent over the last month, but remains one of the league's best, despite the departures of Cory Joseph and Patrick Patterson and not always having Lowry or DeRozan on the floor.
Dwane Casey has revamped the Toronto offense (which already ranked in the top 10 each of the last four seasons) to be more playoff-ready. His decision not to stagger the minutes of the All-Stars guards has also paid off.
OVERALL GRADE: A-
The Raptors go into the second half of the season with the East's second best record, but its best point differential by a wide margin. As of Jan. 14, they were one of just two teams -- the Golden State Warriors were the other -- that ranked in the top 10 on both ends of the floor. And as the first half of their season came to a close, they were a possession away from beating the champs.
DeRozan and Lowry have developed more trust in their teammates, C.J. Miles has provided much-needed 3-point shooting, and the young Raptors have stepped into the void created by the departures of Joseph and Patterson. The starters have been better than any previous starting lineup on the Lowry-DeRozan era, and the bench ranks second in the league.
It all looks good now, but the test will come in the playoffs, where the previous offense had consistently struggled. The No. 1 seed is very much in play, especially if the Raptors stay dominant at home.
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