Kawhi Leonard

Toronto. Seriously? Yes, Toronto

Get your jokes in now and laugh while you can because the fiery curse surrounding the Toronto Raptors is about to be extinguished. In recent years they have been a laughingstock and the butt of many jokes because of their routine postseason collapses, but for the 2018-19 season the Toronto Raptors will reign supreme at the top of the food chain in the Eastern Conference.  The acquisitions made by the Raptors this off-season have made them more versatile, athletic and most importantly, more talented.

Many of you are thinking Boston is the clear favorite in the East or maybe even Philly, but it should be Toronto.  They are coming off a 59 win season while being the only team in the top five in both offensive and defensive rating.  Philly and Boston were both in the top five for defensive rating as well, but neither of these teams finished in the top 10 in offense. Toronto was the most balanced team in the NBA last regular season and upgraded into an even stronger monster this off-season.  

The acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green will transform what is already an elite defense into an impregnable fortress. Adding the best perimeter defender in basketball to a team already 5th in defensive rating is incredible and Danny Green is a great defender in his own right. Wings like Leonard, Green, OG, Miles, and Powell, can guard multiple positions on the perimeter allowing the Raptors defense to be able to switch with ease.

DeRozan was a great player for this franchise, but if Kawhi Leonard buys in this season no one would deny he is a vast upgrade over DeRozan. He is a two time DPOY and Finals MVP that brings a tremendous level of playoff success to a team in desperate need of it.  A culture change was needed in Toronto and they went all in on that change this summer with the Kawhi trade and parting ways with long time head coach Dwane Casey. Next postseason, Toronto enters with three things they didn’t have last year. Their kryptonite is gone now that LeBron has moved to LA. No longer will we see the Raptors melt when that particular man walks into the room.  Second, the Raptors have a new culture. With a new head coach and new players being brought in, this Raptors team won’t have quite the same baggage as the teams of the past. And lastly, they will enter every series with that particular series’ best player. Having the best player in the series can make up for many deficiencies elsewhere and Toronto will already be the most efficient and well balanced team in their conference. With the move of LeBron, a culture change, and the best player, this is a team ready to ascend as the team to beat next year in the Eastern Conference.

 

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