The Toronto Raptors have taken on the personality of head coach Dwane Casey and All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry to become one of if not the toughest team in the NBA, but unfortunately that’s not enough in a Conference where LeBron James has been to the NBA Finals every year for over half a decade.
NBA TV Canada host of The Hangout and Courtsurfing Akil Augustine discusses the state of the Raptors with Pro Bball Report editor Stephen Brotherston and what it might take for the team from “The North” to take that next big step and get to play for a Championship.
Podcast with Akil Augustine
“The Toronto Raptors are the toughest team in the NBA and the most cohesive team in the NBA,” Augustine told Pro Bball Report. “Unfortunately they are not the most talented team in the NBA, but I feel they are the team that gets the most return for the players they have on the court.
“I see them as not necessarily overachievers anymore, but true achievers in that second spot that they hold. I believe they can hold for a season, they held it last year and I believe they truly defined themselves as better than the remainder of the Eastern Conference, but not as good as the “one” team running the Eastern Conference which is the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers.”
It took less than 30 games into the 2016-17 season to confirm the Raptors hadn’t slipped from last season’s franchise record setting 55-win pace and the teams fighting for playoff positions behind them hadn’t made up any ground on Toronto. However, even if Toronto wins 55 to 60 games this season, that isn’t going to be enough to get them out of the Eastern Conference.
“Until they either go all in and gamble on bringing a third figure into the locker room, then I believe that’s where they are stuck and they have a huge decision to make,” Augustine continued. “Are you going to go all-in on not only a third player, but also on Kyle (Lowry’s) contract and I can’t see a franchise that’s seen the amount of success we’ve had in the last few years with him at point guard turn their back on him.”
The Raptors need a player that can help them get by the Cavs, but it needs to be the right player. This team doesn’t lack for scoring, they have two All-Star guards and anyone they bring in has to mesh with them or it simply isn’t going to work.
“I think they need the talent of a third dominant player, but to bring in a third ball stopper, a guy who needs touches … is difficult and that’s the conundrum,” Augustine explains. “If it’s going to be a third guy, it’s got to be the perfect guy because this locker room is so finely tuned.”
The reality facing the Raptors is there just may not be that perfect player to add that can get them past LeBron James and company.
“At this point with LeBron James being LeBron James, he’s a generational player and you look back to the decades of the nineties when certain people didn’t get championships. The Charles Barkley’s of the world. Karl Malone left the league without a championship and it was because there was a generational player in Michael Jordan.”
Be sure to check out the entire podcast for some great insight on this challenging situation for the Raptors.
Keep up with everything Akil Augustine is up to by following him on Twitter @AkilAugustine