3 Biggest Reasons You Should Be Watching the Toronto Raptors

Raptors star Pascal Siakam driving against the Nets
Raptors star Pascal Siakam driving against the Nets | Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The defending champion Toronto Raptors may have lost Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in free agency to the Clippers, but they are still a top team in this league. The Raptors are currently sporting a 16-8 record, which is good for fifth in the surprisingly deep Eastern Conference.

The Raptors can upset any team on a given night, which makes this team a lot of fun to watch. These are the top three reasons to watch the Toronto Raptors this year.

3. The growth of Pascal Siakam

Pascal Siakam
Raptors star Pascal Siakam attacking the rim. | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Pascal's growth was the subject of much discussion last year, as he went from 7 points per game in 2017-2018 to 16.9 in 2018-2019, culminating with him winning the NBA's Most Improved Player award. However, after Kawhi's departure, Siakam has turned it on even more, averaging a team and career high 24.5 points, with 8.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Siakam has shown that he can lead the team into the future, as he is having an All-Star type season at only 25 years old.

2. Stifling Defense

Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam
Pascal Siakam guarding former teammate Kawhi Leonard outside the 3-point line. | Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Raptors have played incredibly suffocating defense this season, with teams only shooting 41.5% against them. Seasoned veterans such as Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry and younger players like Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet have been able to effectively shut down opponents. The most notable time was when NBA superstar Joel Embiid scored 0 points against the Raptors, shooting 0-11 from the field.

1. Talented shooting team

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Vince Carter
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson shooting over the Hawks' Vince Carter | Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Raptors are a very talented jump shooting team, with floor-spacing big men in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka and sweet-shooting guards in Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Other players such as Pascal Siakam and Chris Boucher have improved their shooting over the past few years, while players OG Anunoby and Norman Powell are solid shooters as well coming off the bench. Having the floor opened up by shooters helps create space for players to drive.