The Whiteboard, Toronto Raptors

The Whiteboard: Have the Raptors remade their playoff psyche?

Welcome to The Whiteboard, catching you up every morning on what’s good around the NBA. Find The Whiteboard here on The Step Back, and subscribe here to get it delivered to you by email.

Are they finally gonna win the East this year? Hard to say. Can they win the title? Feasibly, sure. But what the Raptors gave themselves is a better chance to do both those things than years past.

For the better part of this decade, Toronto put together strong regular season campaigns and came up short in the playoffs. Teams can only make that uphill climb so many times before their treads become ruts. They turned over enough of that soil in the past 10 months to reset their collective spirit.

Regardless of the 2019’s outcome, hats go off to Masai Ujiri. He recognized the Raptors possessed a formidable, yet defined ceiling. Instead of residing in complacency and hoping to catch a break, he swung for the fences.

He made the hard decision of firing Dwane Casey — two days after winning coach of the year no less — and replaced him with Nick Nurse.

In upgrading to Kawhi Leonard from DeMar DeRozan, landing Danny Green, and swapping out Jonas Valanciunas for Marc Gasol, he made a good team more versatile and better all-around, with the potential to be a defensive powerhouse. Ujiri’s probably going to win executive of the year, and he should.

Toronto boasts the third-best point differential in the entire league, along with the fifth-highest offensive and defensive ratings.

In addition to raising its ceiling, Toronto heightened its urgency. This isn’t a “well, there’s always next year” team. Leonard could bolt in the summer. Gasol and Kyle Lowry are old. While they have the silver lining of not being anchored by any long-term contracts, the Raptors’ demarcated window is now and only now. Their future uncertainty could give them the exigence they always needed.

Perhaps the largest boost to Toronto’s psyche comes with an internal x-factor: The ascendency of Pascal Siakam. His transformation from bench sparkplug to two-way force playing 32 minutes a night put him in the frontrunning for the Most Improved Player award. More importantly, he gives the Raptors a reliable complementary piece if Leonard has an off night or Playoff Lowry rears its ugly head.

Having a consistent third option to lean on every game is what they lacked in the past. Going in with that answer instead of speculating who will step up each game should make the biggest mental difference for Toronto’s postseason hopes.

#Content you can’t miss

What can we expect from the first G.O.A.T.-less playoffs in recent memory?

Blake Griffin has had a career-year and been everything for the Detroit Pistons, and it still might not have been enough

The best part of an NBA season are the things you never saw coming. Here are the biggest surprises from 2018-19

What if this is the last rodeo for the Golden State Warriors?

It’s clear that Dwyane Wade taught South Florida how to win

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Warriors fans should thank Draymond Green, not Mike Brown, for Game 6 lineup change
The Whiteboard: 10 top prospects to know for the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery
Anthony Edwards on the Suns’ Game 7 loss: ‘This is a disgrace’
NBA at 75: When the Spurs end the Lakers’ dynasty and start their own
‘Jimmy had his fingerprints on that’: How Butler took over Game 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.