1. 2018-2019 The Championship Team (58-24)
It was a team where we saw many long time Raptors leave or get fired. There was Jonas Valančiūnas, Dwane Casey, and most importantly, Demar DeRozan.
A Toronto Raptors team not led by Demar DeRozan was always going to be a strange look for the Toronto Raptors. Fresh off getting swept yet again against LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was clear that something needed to change in Toronto. That’s when Masai Ujiri pulled off the Demar DeRozan trade for a one year rental of Kawhi Leonard.
But that wasn’t the only weird thing that took getting used too. Long time head coach Dwane Casey (9 seasons with the team) was also fired right after winning coach of the year for the first time. It was a bold but necessary move by Masai and the org.
It was set to be an odd season for Raptors fan, no DeRozan, no Casey. But what they did have was a former finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard.
Head coach: Nick Nurse
- Point Guard: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Jeremy Lin
- Shooting Guard: Danny Green, Norman Powell
- Small Forward: Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby
- Power Forward: Pascal Siakam
- Center: Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valančiūnas
Although the Raptors were a dominant force during the season, with Kawhi or without. Masai still felt that the team could’ve been better and when he heard that Marc Gasol was available, he did what had to be done. That’s when Jonas Valančiūnas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, and a 2024 second-round pick were shipped off for Marc Gasol. Gasol was brought in to stretch the floor, play defense and be that playmaker in the post.
The Raptors looked completely different and so did the East going into the playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers were the teams to be scared about, now that there was no LeBron.
They were able to win the championship for the first time in franchise history. Lowry finally gained the respect he deserved of everyone after his finals performance, Marc Gasol finally got his first championship, Kawhi Leonard had “the shot” in what was one of the most iconic shots ever. Masai was praised for his trades and the decision to change coach.
Never in a million years could’ve you predicted the Raptors trading DeRozan for a one-year rental and even getting rid of coach of the year winner Casey. It took some time to get used too.
The Raptors did it all this season, and it was followed by Kawhi Leonard leaving and going back home. That is why this is not only the weirdest Raptors team ever but also the best one ever assembled.