The Toronto Raptors have become the subtle darlings of the NBA as they continue to climb the ranks of the pitiful Eastern Conference with their first playoff appearance since 2007-08 within arms reach.
That's the ultimate goal, right? The coalition for Toronto to tank in order to make a run at Canadian prospect Andrew Wiggins in the 2014 NBA draft must have disbanded by now, correct?
Surely the continued success of the Raptors will put an end to the pipe dreams of those aforementioned fans who can't seem to get their heads out of the clouds.
Toronto is one of only four teams in the East (Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks being the other three) with a record of .500 or better at 16-16. That's good enough for the fourth overall seed and potential home-court advantage in the postseason.
Didn't see that coming, did you? Don't worry. You're not alone.
Making a serious run at the Atlantic Division crown this season probably wasn't in the cards from the get-go. The franchise has been in a constant rebuilding mode since the days of Chris Bosh. With a new man steering the ship in general manager Masai Ujiri, why was this year supposed to be any different?
I guess plans changed. Why not go for the gusto and take this bad boy as far as it can go?
Management may have been secretly hoping for a tank job, but the players and coaches are under a different mindset; keep winning and get the Raptors back to playing meaningful basketball in April and May.
Who is most responsible for the turnaround, and who's better left keeping the seats warm on the sidelines with their posteriors firmly planted on the bench?
*All statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and are accurate as of January 4