Serge Ibaka
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 1 - Serge Ibaka (9) of the Toronto Raptors after hitting a 3 point shot during the 2nd half of NBA action as the Washington Wizards defeat the Toronto Raptors 105-96 at the Air Canada Centre on March 1, 2017. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors are the first team to 30 wins. After an offseason of trading away their best player in DeMar DeRozan to get an even better player in Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors now have the best record in the entire NBA. The goal for this offseason will be to get Leonard to stay but for now, the Raptors can say that they are successful with the team they currently have. Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri had to deal with a lot of criticism, especially from players like Kyle Lowry, who formed a brotherhood with DeRozan. The Raptors are looking like a favorite to come out of the East right now after two straight games with victories over the Milwaukee Bucks and the Indiana Pacers. Those are the second and third best teams in the East respectively.

The Toronto Raptors are the First Team to 30 Wins; First in East

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard had a lot of questions coming into this season and still has questions in terms of where he will go next year. This year, however, coming into the season the questions were would he be able to play to the level he has been able to play before the quadriceps injury that sidelined him for the whole 2017-18 season. He has been able to answer that question with his play. It is a yes. Leonard has averaged 27.2 points (which is good for sixth in the league and is a career high), 7.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.

Leonard, though, has not been able to play every game this season. Out of 42 games played so far by the Raptors, Leonard has only been able to play 32. Granted, the team has opted to rest Leonard during back-to-backs at the beginning of the season. The Raptors look like they are in control of the East so far so it hasn’t hurt them yet. If Leonard is able to play in the playoffs at the level he did in 2014 when he won the Finals MVP then him missing a couple games in the regular season is a good trade.

Leonard is an MVP candidate as he is the best player on the best team in the league. His stats are MVP caliber also. Last year James Harden had that combination and took home the MVP award at the end of the season. The Raptors had the second best record in the league last year with DeRozan as the best player. They won 59 games. They have taken no step back with Leonard as their best player as they may eclipse the 60 win mark this season. Leonard with his famous two-way playing ability and the team’s success may be on his way to winning his first MVP award.

Role Players

With Lowry and Leonard playing up to their standard, the Raptors have seen above-average contributions from crucial role players. Serge Ibaka is averaging 16.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 53.9 percent from the field. Pascal Siakam is averaging a career-high 15 points with 6.6 rebounds per game. He is a player that could win the Most Improved Player award. Fred VanVleet is averaging 10.5 points and 4.5 assists per game. VanVleet is one of the best sixth men in the league and helps anchor the bench.

Danny Green who also came to Toronto from the San Antonio Spurs like Kawhi Leonard did in the trade has averaged 9.5 points and he is shooting 40.8 percent from three-point range. Norman Powell just dropped 23 points against the Pacers which is his season-high. He is averaging 7.2 points per game. OG Anunoby is also averaging 7.2 points per game.

The Raptors have two-star players but they have players that have improved dramatically. The consistent bench depth and Siakam taking a tremendous step forward allowed for Leonard and the medical staff to monitor his health. The Raptors in games that Kawhi Leonard has not played in are 8-2.

Conclusion

The Toronto Raptors are the best team in the league this year and that is because their role players have played extremely well along with their stars being consistent when they are playing. This team is the favorite to come out of the East right now.

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