- The Toronto Raptors added Marc Gasol from Memphis at the NBA Trade Deadline
- The Raptors currently sit second in Eastern Conference at 39-16
- Their .709 win percentage ranks third in the entire league
The Toronto Raptors made a huge splash hours before the league’s official trade deadline, landing Marc Gasol from the Grizzlies in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Milles, and a 2024 second-round pick. Essentially, the Raptors weakened their bench in order to add another monster piece to their rotation.
The Raptors weren’t the only Eastern Conference power to make a move, the Bucks and Sixers were busy as well. With all the movement, BetOnline has updated their 2019 NBA Championship odds.
2019 NBA Championship Odds
|Team||BetOnline Odds (02/07/19)|
|Golden State Warriors||-175|
The Raptors are the lead dog in the group chasing the Golden State Warriors and there are now three key reasons to love their chances of challenging for the NBA Championship.
1. Raptors Landed a Major Contributor in Marc Gasol
Let’s start with the most recent move. The trade lands the Raptors a player averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists, which ranks second behind only Nikola Jokic for centers in the NBA.
The original report for this trade involved the Raptors sending Kyle Lowry to Memphis and Mike Conley joining Gasol. That deal would have been a major shift, probably too major for Toronto to remain a contender. Adding Gasol, while keeping Lowry gives the team a big three when you include MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard (more on him later). Gasol may not be as valuable as he was in his prime, but he’s still a major contributor on both ends of the floor.
Story on Toronto landing Marc Gasol in a trade with Memphis. https://t.co/oUqLk4Eu1B
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
2. The Raptors Are Posting Elite Numbers on Offense and Defense
Before the trade, the Raptors were an elite unit on both ends of the floor. They average 113.9 points per game which is seventh best in the NBA and they have a +5.4 differential, which is fourth.
The Raptors average 113.9 points per game which is seventh best in the NBA and they have a +5.4 differential, which is fourth.
On defense, they allow 108.5 points per game which ranks 11th. The biggest spot Gasol helps is on the defensive side of the ball, making it entirely likely this team will be top 10 on both offense and defense by season’s end. Trying to pinpoint a weakness with these Raptors is a tough challenge, and should result in them being favorites in any series before the NBA Finals.
Marc Gasol has been traded to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles and a 2024 second-round pick, per ESPN. ? pic.twitter.com/95mNrk1obv
— House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) February 7, 2019
3. Kawhi Leonard is a Legit MVP Candidate
The Raptors may have a problem if Kawhi Leonard walks in free agency, but that’s a problem for another day. For now they have the best you can ask for, an MVP candidate playing for a max deal. They’ll get his best effort down the stretch and it’s possible he’ll improve on the already impressive 27.3 points and 7.9 assists he’s put up so far.
Stars win championships and the Raptors have a legit one in Leonard. As good as Gasol is on defense, it’s Leonard that’ll get the match up against the other team’s best in a playoff series.
Kawhi Leonard did it all in the @Raptors road WIN!
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) February 6, 2019
Are the Raptors the Best in the Eastern Conference?
Simply, yes they are. The Bucks look good, as do the Sixers, and Celtics, but all three of those teams will struggle to match up with the new look Raptors. If you’re looking to fade the Warriors and bet on a value pick in the NBA, take Toronto and watch what this team is capable of down the stretch and during playoff time.
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