The Toronto Raptors finally became champions in the 2018-19 season after years of close playoff defeats at the hands of LeBron James. New addition Kawhi Leonard and the ageless Kyle Lowry took down the mighty Golden State Warriors in six games to finally slip a ring on Toronto’s collective finger.
Even though Kevin Durant was largely absent in the Finals due to his injuries, that shouldn’t make their victory any less impressive. Toronto went from an also-ran franchise to a champion after Masai Ujiri’s vision finally came to fruition.
The Raptors were one of the best teams over the course of the last decade, as they were able to construct a rotation that went nine or ten players deep during their postseason domination. Not everyone has put them in the same exalted tier as many of the other champions from yesteryear, however
In their ranking of the Top 75 teams of all time, Slam Magazine put the Raptors’ only championship squad at No. 69 overall. Considering that some teams who didn’t even win the championship are ranked ahead of them, that could be a tough pill for Canadian fans to swallow.
How good are the 2018-19 Toronto Raptors?
While teams ranked ahead of them, like the 1980 76ers or 1984 Celtics, can claim to boast some of the game’s greatest players ever in Julius Erving and Larry Bird, Toronto has some stars in their own right. The depth this team had all around the roster, in tandem with their star power, should set them apart.
Leonard and Lowry were future Hall of Famers at the peak of their powers. However, names like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, and Normal Powell filling out the rest of the rotation made them a lethal opponent. Their postseason defense was arguably one of the best since the mighty 2004 Pistons.
Toronto had an arduous path through the postseason. After disposing of the Magic, Nick Nurse had to take down a very deep 76ers team thanks to Leonard’s legendary shot.
Taking down the Bucks as Giannis Antetokounmpo was just starting to blossom and beating a Warriors team fresh off three rings in four years warrants placement in the highest tier.
History might look at this Raptors team more favorably after Kawhi and Kyle are getting their deserved places in Springfield confirmed. Once this list gets redone in a few decades and the Raptors’ place in history is analyzed, Toronto will assuredly be higher up the list.