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Raptors Are The Toughest Team In The NBA But It’s Not Enough

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.

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Akil Augustine Keep up with everything Akil Augustine is up to by following him on Twitter @AkilAugustine

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tolzman & Akil

The Hangout’s Akil Augustine Breaks Down Raptors Signings

From NBA TV Canada’s The Hangout, host Akil Augustine breaks down the Toronto Raptors free agent signings from this summer. From Bismack Biyombo at 12:03pm immediately after the July Moratorium ended, to the Hawks DeMarre Carroll, Canadian Cory Joseph and finally the veteran Luis Scola.

 

 

The highlights were:

Bismack Biyombo

bismack biyomboJPG“It’s shoring up exactly what the Toronto Raptors said would be their main agenda item which was defense. So now you got a guy who you can pair when you don’t have Jonas on the floor, a guy you can just throw down there. No need for touches and just protect that rim which is what the Toronto Raptors were missing.”

DeMarre Carroll

Carroll & Ujiri with ball closeup“He shoots the three and he’s a big defender. In the playoffs, the Wizards and the Nets used Paul Pierce in that stretch four position and we didn’t have someone who could match up, especially when James (Johnson) didn’t know the offense from that spot. One of the things I learned in my research about him from talking to people around the league at summer league was he is an amazing locker room guy.”

“Dwane Casey can now start problem solving other issues.”

Cory Joseph

Cory Joseph sitting“Everyone knew Masai really wanted to get a Canadian on this roster.”

“I think it is going to pay dividends for Toronto because again, another guy who plays defense.”

Luis Scola

Luis Scola with media“I love Luis Scola. I love his game. I’ve loved his game since I first saw him come into this league.”

“I know they are not focused on offense, but Luis Scola is a scorer. He is a scoring big and he’s a guy you can put on the floor and give you buckets.”

“He’s not a guard chucking shots.”

“He is like one of those Kevin Love type bigs. He doesn’t jump – great positional defense, great positional rebounding. He boxes out on every possession and he has great ball control.”

The Burning Question

“Any two ways I look at it, the Toronto Raptors had a great off season. I just want to see what they do during the season.”

Better than last season? “Yes, whole-heartedly.”

“I am going to say on paper they are better. It is going to be up to them and they are going to have to break a franchise record in wins again in order to prove me right.”

 

 

Akil Augustine suitFrom Intern and Internet vlogger all the way to Host & Producer, Akil Augustine has brought his original take on basketball news, on and off the court to the masses with “The Hangout” on NBA TV Canada.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.