In the summer of 2013, before the current NBA season started, predictions were already being made for how the campaign ahead might shape up.
Playoff predictions, NBA Championship predictions, talking about the best teams in the NBA - the Toronto Raptors were not mentioned in many of these predictions. Now almost three quarters of the way into the season, the Raptors see themselves sitting in first place in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference.
Granted it is a weak conference but none the less it's still a great accomplishment for the Raptors who haven't made the playoffs since the 2007-2008 season.
Many believed that this would be the same sort of season for the Raptors, finishing somewhere between the 11th and ninth seeds, not good enough for a playoff spot and not bad enough for a high-draft pick.
Many believed that after the Raptors traded away Rudy Gay that they were attempting to tank the season in hopes of landing Toronto native Andrew Wiggins in the draft. In fact, it has proved to be just the opposite of a tanking season. The Raptors had a record of seven wins and 12 losses before Gay was traded, after he was traded their record is 25 wins and only 13 losses - a huge improvement.
The surprise at the Raptors' dominance is over. It is now time to take them seriously. General manager Masai Ujiri has already made great moves with this franchise, all contributing to the team's success.
Masai's most successful move this season was the Gay trade, where he added depth to the Raptors bench as well as opening up more opportunities for DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas.
DeRozan is someone to watch. One of the top rising players in the NBA and an All-Star this year, he is a young talent that isn't even close to his prime yet and - unlike stars of Raptors past such as Vince Carter and Chris Bosh - it seems DeRozan wants to remain with Toronto and finally bring success to a city that has been starving for it.
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