Are the Raptors Real Contenders to Win the 2020 NBA Championship?

Credit:

Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: The Toronto Raptors huddle up prior to a game at the Scotiabank Arena.

Feb 12, 2020, 04:00 PM EST
  • Before the Toronto Raptors ripped off 15-straight wins, they were they eighth-best team in the NBA. Now they're third.
  • But are the Raptors a legit threat to win the championship? Matt LaMarca analyzes the win streak and odds for the reigning champs.

The Raptors were not supposed to be title contenders this season. That feels weird to say about a defending NBA champion, but it’s true. They opened at 40-1 to repeat as champs before the start of the season, and people weren’t exactly running to their local books to take them.

They lost Kawhi Leonard in free agency, their lone superstar and last season’s playoff hero, and they didn’t bring in anyone of consequence to replace him.

They didn’t even have a first-round pick after trading for Leonard, so their only addition during the draft was Dewan Hernandez with the 59th pick.

Yet nearly two thirds of the way through the season, the Raptors currently own the third-best record in basketball. They trail only the Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings, and they’re in the middle of an impressive 15-game win streak.

Is it possible the Raptors didn’t need Kawhi as much we thought?