April showers bring May flowers, but what else does April in Toronto bring? Playoff basketball. The city of Toronto has had the pleasure to experience the playoffs for 5 consecutive years, unfortunately, with no results.
“We’ve seen Toronto before.”
“Have they really changed?”
While the Raps may have earned these assumptions due to their poor execution in the past, THIS seasons team is far different (stop me if you’ve heard that one before). It’s also safe to say that this is the most important Raptors season and playoff push ever since the NBA came north of the border.
This is, of course, because of the immense talent on the Raptors roster. They by far have the deepest pool of talent ever. Yes folks’ we’re far, far away from the days of Jake Voskuhl, Primoz Brezec and of course, Joey Graham playing way too much for way too long.
The Raptors playoff rotation will be headlined by a huge-name acquisition in Marc Gasol, the team’s motor in Kyle Lowry, the incredible breakout story of Pascal Siakam, an incredible bench…
Oh, and Kawhi freaking Leonard.
Compare these names to last years 59-win team and #1 seed in the east, and this roster is a complete upgrade from the end of the bench all the way up to the team’s leader. With a roster, this talented and of course the unanswered questions regarding Leonards potential one-way ticket to LA, this postseason is really make or break given the long-term scope of a Kawhi-less team. Masai Ujiri and the front office swung for the fences to assemble this roster looking for nothing less than a DEEP playoff run.
But this goes beyond a basketball perspective. A Raptors playoff push is important to this city and to a larger scale, it’s important to this country, period. Unlike other major sporting teams in Toronto, the Raptors represent Toronto for what it is. Toronto is continuously ranked as one of the top multicultural cities in the world. When looking at Toronto’s roster, countries like Spain, The Congo, Cameroon, and England are represented. As well, Toronto recently signed one of the only Asian players in the NBA, Jeremy Lin as well as Chris Boucher, a Canadian from Montreal. This culturally diversified team represents Toronto’s backbone.
Basketball and the NBA have increasingly become more popular around the world. A league that was once mostly Americans is now roughly 25% international born players. With Toronto continually regarded as one of the more culturally diverse countries in North America and the Raptors having a roster roughly half non-American players, the team represents the city well. People of all ethnicities, religions and socio-economic backgrounds all have a team that can represent them and their city.
Everyone on the Raptors roster was selected outside of the top 14 picks. This is an incredible stat when looking at other playoff teams around the NBA. This team was built on late first round players, unknown second-round steals and completely unheard of players who weren’t even drafted. These players all had to work with a blue-collar mentality to get to where they are now. Which is something the city can appreciate. It’s incredible, really.
Kyle Lowry – 24th overall
Kawhi Leonard – 15th overall
Marc Gasol – 48th overall
Danny Green – 46th overall
Fred Vanvleet – Undrafted
Serge Ibaka – 24th overall
So although this is the “on paper” best Raptors team ever who are destined for a deep playoff run, we can’t forget the deeper meaning of the Toronto Raptors franchise. It’s an opportunity to unite and bring one another closer together. People who’re backgrounds are completely non-relatable can find commonalities when cheering for this team. The world’s a scary place these days, but this Raptors season and playoff push will bring us all closer together and give Canada as a whole something to cheer for.
It’s our team, one that everyone can come together and be proud of.