Toronto Raptors: Five players named in Sports Illustrated’s top 100

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo : ToBereswill/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo : ToBereswill/Getty Images) /

Sports Illustrated has released their top 100 players heading into the 2018-2019 season. The Toronto Raptors had five members, who were they and where were they ranked?

Sports Illustrated top 100 was released this week, fruitlessly attempting to rank the top 100 players heading into the 2018-2019 season. Not fruitless because of the writers, both Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney are very knowledgeable. But fruitless, due to the unbearable task of ranking each player objectively.

Comparing within a position is hard enough. Trying to compare Damian Lillard and Joel Embiid? Nearly impossible.

Each team likely has a couple of gripes with their key player’s rankings. Watching all 82 games of a player allows you to witness their greatness night in, night out. Unfortunately, you don’t get the same opportunity with all 30 teams.

In total, Toronto had five players crack the top-100, tied for the third most in the NBA. They shared the spot with the Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz, two teams who each had their entire starting five make the list.

Tying for first place were the Golden State Warriors (duh) and the Boston Celtics. Both teams projected starting five made the top 100 with Andre Iguodala also making it for Golden State and Scary Terry Rozier making it for Boston.

But you care about the Raptors, so let’s take a look at who made the list for Toronto and where they rank:

Fred VanVleet: Ranked 94th

Sports illustrated is typically slower to react than most with players just arriving on the scene, and they appear to be taking a cautious approach with Fred VanVleet.

VanVleet is ranked behind players like Kelly Olynyk, Kent Bazemore, and Nikola Vucevic. If you told Golden State, Boston, or Philadelphia they could only have either Vucevic or FVV for next season, they would pick VanVleet before you got to the second V.

Taking a cautious approach is smart. You don’t want to overreact to one season. But this ranking is too low.

Serge Ibaka: Ranked 78th

After a terrible postseason, Ibaka’s approval rating has never been lower. However, he still provides rim-protection and floor-spacing, two incredibly valuable traits in today’s NBA.

There are a few players above Ibaka, who could realistically place below him. There are more behind him who could leapfrog him this season (Including FVV).

This ranking might be a hair too high, but is about right.

Jonas Valanciunas: Ranked 63rd

A quick straw-poll of Raptors fans on their preference between Ibaka and Valanciunas would likely indicate a far greater difference than just 15 spots.

But this isn’t a popularity contest, and despite all of his strengths, JV has serious flaws in his game. We’re not sure if JV can play consistent defense against the elite teams in the NBA, and when teams can scheme against him, his warts are exacerbated.

63rd is about right for a player in Valanciunas who can dominate or be a defensive liability, depending on the matchup.

Kyle Lowry: Ranked 23rd

Constantly underrated, Kyle Lowry is finally given his respect. Immediately following Klay Thompson, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Victor Oladipo, Golliver and Mahoney aren’t overlooking what Lowry has done for this team over the past few seasons.

There are a few players below Lowry who probably should be ahead of him, and really only one (Aldridge) who should be lower. This rating feels a little high for Lowry, who I believe should be in the late 20s.

Where does each Raptor rank at their position. dark. Next

Kawhi Leonard: Ranked 12th

This spot is one of the weirdest on the entire list.

Yes, Kawhi missed nearly the entire season with a quad injury. Yes, we aren’t sure how he will look to start the season. Even with those two qualifiers, who is placing Paul George ahead of Kawhi Leonard?

It’s understandable to discount Kawhi due to his most recent year. This is too much of a discount.