The Trade deadline quickly approached, as it was ending this past Thursday afternoon. Plenty rumors were out there about Anthony Davis leaving New Orleans but it never happened. One of the big trades, however, was the arrival of Tobias Harris in Philly. His move have plenty of people thinking the 76ers can make that ultimate run. Well, the Raptors had other plans about giving up the throne in the East, trading for the services of Memphis center Marc Gasol. The Bucks traded for a few supplementary pieces and the Celtics stayed where they were with their team, but in the end, the Raptors are still the best team in the Eastern Conference.
The one thing you notice when you watch the Raptors is the ball movement. Kyle Lowry has really bought in to the ball movement this season, as the ball is not sticking in his hands this season. He is averaging the least points he has averaged since the 2012-2013 season, but he is averaging a career-high 9.2 assists per game. His passing and unselfishness with the basketball is what new head coach Nick Nurse has encouraged and it has made things so much easier for the Raptors, who are scoring two more points per game despite losing their leading scorer, DeMar Derozan, via trade this offseason. With the way they move the ball and the shooting they have, the Raptors would give the Bucks, Sixers and Celtics fits. And with the addition of Marc Gasol, Toronto becomes even more scarier because he is a center that can shoot, is a skilled passer and can definitely explode and go off for big points on the court when needed. Shipping Jonas Valanciunas out of town and getting Gasol is a major upgrade for Toronto.
Along with getting Marc Gasol, the biggest thing is what the Raptors did not do is sacrifice their depth. While people tout the depth of the Celtics, you cannot forget one of the best benches in the NBA. The Raptors were one of the best scoring benches in the NBA last season and with this trade, they only lost Delon Wright and CJ Miles along with Valanciunas. The Raptors are deep enough they can recover from the loss of these three players. And when it comes to being deep, that means multiple different lineups can be placed on the court that can give people fits. The Raptors essentially did not sacrifice key bench players that cannot be replaced. In fact, they really stole Marc Gasol from Memphis as they make a push to go further than they've ever gone before.
The Sixers and Bucks may have made some splashes themselves, but the Gasol move along with the vibe of the Raptors team this season still has them firmly at the top of the NBA's Eastern Conference and also has them as the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference this year. Although there was upgrades made, none of them give any reassurances that Toronto can be knocked off this season.