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2 days ago
What the 2018-2019 Raptors Taught Me About the NBA
Image SourceI was wrong.Scratch that. I was embarrassingly wrong. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last.After the Toronto Raptors traded with the San Antonio Spurs to acquire Kawhi Leonard on what looked like a one-year rental (and may in fact be just that), I didn't think they stood a chance to contend for the title, or even for the NBA Eastern Conference Championship. Obviously, after the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in 6 games to win the NBA Championship, they proved me wrong.In an October piece titled, 9 NBA Team Stuck in "Basketball Hell," I included the Toronto Raptors.It sounds ludicrous to say that a team that finished first in the Eastern Conference and acquired Kawhi Leonard in the offseason is in basketball hell, but I believe their membership in this club is completely justified. The Raptors lost SG DeRozan in the trade with the Spurs and have a decent supporting staff at best with Danny Green an aging Serge Ibaka, Greg Monroe, and other team's scraps. It looks like a year where the Raptors will be bounced early in the playoffs by the Celtics or 76ers.I learned two things about the NBA that I overlooked when making this prediction:Great players can become legends in the right situation. I thought Kawhi Leonard was a very good player with a long history of getting injured. Because of the Spurs' system, I misunderstood a once-in-a-generation talent that was unleashed once put into a situation that let him roam free. The Raptors front office knew what they were doing when they traded for Kawhi because they saw the potential of him taking another step forward in his game through their system. Health is more important than the construction of a roster. You could have the most expensive car in the entire world, but if it's missing its engine, it's not going to get you very far. Success in the NBA, and any professional sport for that matter, is highly dependent on health. The Raptors caught the Warriors at the right time and caught a few breaks while playing great basketball. Congratulations Raptors! I'll be more careful in tossing out a team's chances of success in the future, especially in the NBA where an ACL tear can change what's possible for a team.Did you think the Raptors had a chance at winning the NBA Championship at the start of the year? Comment below.
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