The Toronto Raptors’ 2-year anniversary of the 2019 title less than a month away, which prompted a little sentimental project.
The Raps’ title run has always been regarded as a “fluke/asterisk/whatever-you-want-to-call-it” championship for most people south of the border who follow sports, citing the Golden State Warriors’ parade of injuries as the main reason.
That’s a gross oversimplification that’s quite frankly insulting to one of the best defensive teams over the last decade. Make no mistake, the 2019 Raptors were a great team, and the margin between them and many other popular champions over the last decade is much closer than people realize.
In fact, to prove it, here are three title winners over the last ten years that would have undoubtedly lost to Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, and the 2019 squad.
These 3 champions would lose to the 2019 Toronto Raptors.
1. 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs
The team that took down the Miami Big 3 is widely regarded as one of the best passing teams in history because of the absolute ball movement clinic they put on in the finals against the Heat.
It’s a hard thing to argue with, they completely picked apart Miami in just five games to win the fourth title in the legendary Tim Duncan/Manu Ginobili/Tony Parker era.
If you actually match the two teams up, however, the 2019 Raptors have a distinct advantage on paper. For starters, each team’s best player is Leonard, but in 2019, Leonard was fully realized rather than a role player.
Leonard simply wasn’t even close to the offensive player he would become back then, as he was deployed more as a defensive specialist rather than an offensive focal point. If 2019 Kawhi and 2014 Kawhi were matched up it would be a huge mismatch.
The 2019 Toronto Raptors could take down these Spurs.
Not to mention, the Raptors’ front-court platoon of Ibaka and Gasol would have been a perfect defensive matchup for the aging Duncan, or at least tough enough to somewhat limit him when compared to a smaller, less deep Heat team. Parker and Ginobili would have had fits chasing around Lowry and Vanvleet all series as well.
San Antonio’s incredible passing display wouldn’t have flown against the Raptors either. Toronto’s defense was playing at the same level as that Heat team from 2014, but that team didn’t have the Leonard X-factor to take them over the hump.