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How the Toronto Raptors Built a Championship Roster

Last summer, the Toronto Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and their 1st round pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft to acquire Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green from the San Antonio Spurs. Down 0-2 to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, the Toronto Raptors won four in a row to win the Eastern Conference Championship.

If they can take down the Golden State Warriors, who are appearing in their fifth straight NBA Finals, Kawhi will go down in history as one of the greatest of all-time.

Leonard led the Raptors to a 58-24 record, scoring a career-high 26.6 points per game on a career-high 18.8 shots.

It was the fourth straight season Toronto won 50+ games, the first under Head Coach Nick Nurse.

Kawhi missed 22 regular season games but basketball is a team sport and players stepped up when called upon.

How the Toronto Raptors Built a Championship Roster

Kyle Lowry just finished playing his seventh regular season in Toronto. The Raptors acquired him back in the 2012 offseason, from Houston, in exchange for Gary Fobes and a 2013 draft pick that turned out to be Steven Adams. He has since signed two extensions and is under contract for $33 mil next year.

Lowry saw a huge drop in production this season, down to just 14.2 points per game, shooting pretty poorly at just 41.1% from the field. He attempted seven three-point shots for a fourth straight season, but poorly at 34.7%.

What he did do this year is set a career high in assists per game at 8.7, the first time he had ever cracked 7.5 assists.

As we have come to learn, Lowry has struggled in the playoffs and a matchup with Stephen Curry is probably not going to bring out the best in him.

Which Raptor led the team in minutes played during the regular season?

If you guessed Pascal Siakam, you're right!

Toronto drafted Siakam 27th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft out of New Mexico State. In that same draft, they spent the ninth pick on Poeltl. According to Basketball Reference, only Ben Simmons has a higher VORP in that class.

Siakam averaged 16.9 points per game, shooting 54.9% from the field. He added 6.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game during the regular season.

He has seen a slight uptick in scoring during the playoffs (18.7), thanks to 15.9 shots per game - up from 11.8 in the regular season.

Siakam was also one of the top defenders in the NBA this season, and will have to prevent Draymond Green from racking up triple-doubles. We could even see him guard Kevin Durant should he play in the NBA Finals.
3-and-D extraordinaire, Danny Green, shot a career-best 45.5% from beyond the arc, on 5.4 attempts per game during the regular season. He has not shot the ball well in the playoffs, but his shooting stroke and strong defense will be needed going up against Klay Thompson.

At the NBA Trade Deadline this year, the Raptors acquired Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 2nd round pick were sent to Memphis. Now 34-years-old, Gasol's leadership and offensive & defensive awareness will be needed to defeat Golden State.

Another veteran big man, Serge Ibaka, just had his best season with Toronto since being traded there in 2017 from the Orlando Magic for Terrence Ross and a 2017 first round pick that was used to select Anzejs Pasecniks.

Ibaka averaged 15 points per game, 8.1 rebounds and is no longer standing behind the three-point line taking four 3s per game.
Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Norman Powell played huge roles during the regular season to lead this team to the #2 seed in the East.

VanVleet was undrafted out of Wichita State and the Raptors have developed him into a solid backup PG. His development allowed GM Masai Ujiri to clear Cory Joseph's $7 mil contract.

Anunoby and Powell were acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks, as future draft picks, for Greivis Vasquez back in 2015. Anunoby was the 23rd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft while Powell was the 46th overall selection in 2015.

OG hasn't played since April 9th after an appendectomy. He could make an appearance in the NBA Finals and will also step into the starting lineup next season if Kawhi Leonard does not re-sign.

Powell has been efficient shooting the basketball in the playoffs, scoring eight points per game with a 56.2% eFG%.
Toronto has been leaning heavily on Kawhi Leonard since the day they acquired him and will need him to play the best basketball of his life to beat the Golden State Warriors. I do not believe he will sign an extension with Toronto but NBA Championship or not, the Raptors went all-in and it paid off with the Franchise's first NBA Finals appearance. Masai Ujiri can worry about what to do with the Raptors roster and cap space situation once the Finals are over.

Toronto Raptors NBA Finals