It's safe to say the Toronto Raptors have been a pleasant surprise this season, especially since trading Rudy Gay.
When general manager Masai Ujiri shipped Gay off to the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 8, many thought it was the beginning of the "Tank." They would lose as many games as possible in attempt to grab the first overall pick and select potential superstar – and Canadian – Andrew Wiggins.
Well, the complete opposite has happened.
Since the move, the Raptors have won 14 of 20 games and sit in third place in the weak Eastern Conference.
So with the recent success, has your perception and expectations of the Toronto Raptors changed?
Experts and fans alike thought the 2013-2014 Raptors would be a success if they managed to sneak into the playoffs with the seventh or eighth seed and then get steamrolled by the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the first round.
But, with disappointing performances from the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, Toronto finds itself atop the Atlantic Division with a better than decent shot at not only avoiding the Heat or Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, but earning home-court advantage. Should a second round playoff series be expected from this club now?
Over their hot streak, the Raptors have defeated some of league's elite teams, including the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks, both on the road, as well as the East-leading Pacers. They were even able to keep it close against the Heat in South Beach. They've shown they can play against the big boys of the NBA so does this mean they can push a series to six or seven games or possibly even upset one of those top teams in the playoffs?
It seems head coach Dwane Casey finally has the right players to play his type of defensive basketball. The team is third in the league in opponent points per game with 96.
The Raptors are getting all-star performances from DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, who's even getting some MVP consideration. Jonas Valanciunas is averaging close to a double-double in his sophomore season while the players sent over from Sacramento have all contributed, especially Patrick Patterson. At the very least, have the Raptors played well enough to earn respect from around the league?
Or maybe Toronto is overachieving and fans should enjoy the success while it lasts, because if Raptors history tells us anything, it may not last long. Let it be known they're doing all of this in the East where only four teams are over the .500 mark.
So with all this considered, has your perception and expectations of the Toronto Raptors changed?
As always, it's Your! Call.