For the last seven years, the Toronto Raptors have been a fixture at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Even with the departure of their top two centers from last year, there were still expectations that the Raptors could be a playoff team. So far, not so good.
The Raptors are still figuring out what they are as a team and the growing pains are noticeable. They are currently 5-9 and if the season ended today they would be outside of the play-in. They are no longer the elite defense that helped them to their best win percentage in franchise history, currently ranking 19th in defensive rating.
There are four Toronto Raptors how are surprising fans, for better or for worse. Which two are exceeded expectations and which two are letting them down?
Luckily for the Raptors, there are a few players that year in and year out that continue to produce. Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry have been generally great. Lowry is the face of the franchise and will likely go down as the greatest Toronto Raptor of all time. Fred VanVleet is the heir apparent to Lowry in every way and is living up to the contract he signed this offseason. OG Anunonby and Norm Powell are not taking that leap that fans had necessarily hoped for but they are solid contributors on the offensive end and Anunoby, in particular, is still a defensive menace.
So who have been the unexpected impact players of the season so far? Who has blown away expectations and proved themselves invaluable in their role? Who has left much to be desired so far? Let’s start there.