Would the Toronto Raptors have been better than the current Clippers if Kawhi stayed?

Toronto Raptors - Serge Ibaka (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Serge Ibaka (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Marc Gasol (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /


Toronto Raptors: Marc Gasol

Los Angeles Clippers: Ivica Zubac

This comparison is quite similar to Green vs Shamet. Marc Gasol is an old grizzly vet with tons of big-time experience. He has been one of the best centers in the league and still has the ability to impact opposing offences.

Like Shamet, Zubac was traded to the Clippers mid-season. He and Michael Beasley were shipped out by the Los Angeles Lakers for Mike Muscala.

Zubac has played three years in the league and has seen great improvement over that time. He is just 22 and has serious potential to cement himself as one of the better centers in the league.

Coincidently, when Zubac was growing up in Croatia, he watched Gasol intently. Many have made comparisons in their style of play. This mostly stems from the strength each player demonstrates on defence. With both men standing over seven feet tall, they are excellent rim protectors and shot blockers. A former Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol still holds the significant edge, but there are some similarities between the two on that end of the court.

Gasol also adds a new dimension to his team’s offence. He is an elite passer, which keeps his teammates involved. The Raptors saw their ball movement transformed and their ability to score upgraded when Gasol joined the team. He also helps spread the floor thanks to his capability to shoot the three. He shot 36.3-percent from beyond the arc last season.

Though Zubac is an excellent rebounder and a good mid-range shooter, he still not as complete a player as Gasol. Zubac is yet to convert on a three-point shot in the NBA. He also does not have the same vision, court IQ, or passing ability as the Big Burrito.

When the games mattered most, during last year’s playoffs, only one of the two helped their team. Zubac struggled mightily before being eliminated in the first round by the Golden State Warriors. By game four of that series, Zubac had even lost his spot in the starting unit.

Gasol wasn’t at his best offensively throughout the postseason, but defensively, he was everything the Raptors needed. He played a huge role in their championship run.

Though there is a lot to like about Zubac, he is still nowhere near the calibre player of Gasol. The Raptors are superior at center.

Advantage: Toronto Raptors