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Should the Raptors go for a championship next season?

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The Toronto Raptors are in a position where they have assets, players in their prime and a flurry of talent who have yet to hit their peak but are also in the rotation. They could make a few moves to open the window for a championship next season. Imman Adan and Giancarlo Navas discuss their options. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed or watch on our YouTube.

Video Transcript

GIANCARLO NAVAS: They need a wing scorer. And this is going to sound funny. They need like a guy who fits the profile of what they do-- these incredibly athletic, torrid wing defenders who are like 6'9"-- and they need a guy at that position who can be like an A1 scorer. Obviously, there's not a lot of people that fit that bill--

IMMAN ADAN: Kawhi?

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Literally Kawhi. Kawhi, Jimmy--

IMMAN ADAN: Did you just say that that's what they need?

GIANCARLO NAVAS: --Paul George.

IMMAN ADAN: [LAUGHS]

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Yeah. No, like-- Yeah, that's what I'm saying, which is funny.

IMMAN ADAN: I know.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: I don't-- listen, I don't want to get Raptors fans mad at me because they already got mad at me for saying bad things about DeMar months ago. They have to do a move and I don't think Siakam or Freddy is the move to make. I think you get more bang for your buck in a trade with OG and like draft equity and you--

IMMAN ADAN: You scared me. My heart stopped.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Oh, no, no. It's just because we've seen them survive--

IMMAN ADAN: I thought you were going to say Scottie. I was like, he's not going to do that.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. That guy is--

IMMAN ADAN: Oh, I thought you-- because you were like--

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Whoa.

IMMAN ADAN: --not Fred, not Pascal, so I was like, OK, those are kind of your biggest trade chips.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: No, you keep that guy. That's the bridge, right? Anything that you do, that's the bridge and you--

IMMAN ADAN: OK, you scared me because you said people were going to get mad--

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Yeah, you give the franchise to him.

IMMAN ADAN: --so I looking for the worst. I thought Pascal was going to be as worse as you got, but then I was like, oh, there's someone else.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: No, no. Now, you could do two things. I don't think you should trade Siakam because I think, you know, windows close very quickly and I think he's going to be playing his best basketball in his career next season. I think that that's the trajectory.

IMMAN ADAN: I agree.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: I am a big believer in him.

IMMAN ADAN: I agree.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: So if you're trying to win, we've seen them survive without OG for very long stretches, including a title run, and I'm a very big OG person. I just think that they just have too many of these guys that are like very similar in, like, skill and ceiling and you need to up your ceiling and you need to get a guy that is not going anywhere somewhere and who's a little on the older side. And you bring him in with the other vets and then you let Scottie, as one of the-- you're going to have to overpay for a guy-- and as that guy ages out, Scottie ages in, and you keep the wheels turning.

They're going to have to do something like that. And I know Masai is going to look for it. And again, I don't like saying this because, again, I fell in love with this-- I love OG Anunoby. That, probably, Imman, the bubble team, the team that took Boston, I think that's probably like my favorite Raptor team. I think I--

IMMAN ADAN: Me too.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: I don't think I've ever enjoyed watching basketball-- like a Raptor team more than that one.

IMMAN ADAN: Me too.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: They were just-- they were incredible.

IMMAN ADAN: My favorite team ever.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: So, they just need that other scorer at the wing who can just get to the basket, get to the line. I don't know what Toronto's numbers were getting free throws. It doesn't feel good when I watch it. I don't think they generate enough that way. I don't think they generate enough pressure at the rim unless it's Siakam.

IMMAN ADAN: Pascal is the only person who can get to the rim. Pascal's the only person who can get to the free throw line and he doesn't do it at the level of like the upper echelon guys in the league.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Isn't it funny that all the guys, except for Jimmy, that we've talked about they've been linked with? Because PG, they have the PG thing, right? And obviously, Kawhi was there. So they need a guy like that. I'd be hesitant about--

IMMAN ADAN: I think we were linked with Jimmy for a while because DeMar and Kyle's relationship with him.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Were they?

IMMAN ADAN: Yeah, back probably in his Chicago days.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Jimmy is a little different because Jimmy is not a shooter and I already think that they walk a fine line, so he's a guy-- and obviously I don't think Jimmy's leaving, but--

IMMAN ADAN: And yeah, I don't think that-- I don't know that Masai is really looking at that right now. It's interesting that you mentioned sort of an older vet guy who can be your number one scorer. That's an interesting take. I think that--

GIANCARLO NAVAS: You build your defense around it and you have the vets and the other guys. And they're not going to kill you with depth anymore. I do think they'll find a guy or two, you know, like, on the fringes as they always do, right? I think Masai and Toronto are just really good at finding those diamonds in the rough, similar to Miami, right? I don't like crediting organizations solely for that. I think players put a lot of work, but I think there are some organizations that put people in the positions to succeed and believe in him.

Henry Abbott wrote a fantastic piece about the differences between culture and process and Philadelphia and Miami and how Philadelphia is constantly throwing people under the bus and Eric Spoelstra is talking his guys up. Is talking Gabe Vincent up when they're struggling. It's talking Max Strus up. And when Miami got embarrassed by Milwaukee there was no bus throwing. It was all accountability. And there's a difference between those franchises. And when Toronto loses, it is accountability and it's not bus throwing, because that's a brotherhood that they have there, unlike other teams. So I think they're going to be good and I think Masai is going to-- I think, arguably, Masai's the best executive in the league, you know?

IMMAN ADAN: Definitely.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: So I think him, Riley are on the short list of the best ones that just have consistently--

IMMAN ADAN: Riley? Never heard of him. Sorry.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Yeah.

[LAUGHS]

So that's kind of where I am with the Raptors and where they can go.

IMMAN ADAN: Now, I like that. That's actually a really interesting take because I think in having these conversations with everyone, that is not the direction I think that most people go in. OG, it hurts my heart because I kind of look at OG as the glue to this team. And you mentioned it. They did do-- like he missed a lot of time this season. They have to win games without him, but it definitely-- it might be because he's the only guy of the 6'8", 6'9" brigade who can actually shoot, that you start to realize how important he is to this team, considering his spacing is just so integral to what they do. But then, of course, if they're replacing him with a guy who is the number one scorer--

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Paul George, for example.

IMMAN ADAN: --it'd be someone who can shoot.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Do you think he has another level as a scorer, though? Because like he needs-- if it's going to work, he needs to go like two levels up as a scorer from where he is and as a creator. And that's where I have questions as to what realistically his cap is. And is that good enough? And can he get there fast enough before your other guys age out?

IMMAN ADAN: I think that's a really fair question to ask. And I don't know. I think that a lot of people had those lofty expectations and really believed that he could do that early on. And I think that there were clouded by the growth of Pascal Siakam. They just saw his growth and were like, well, that's easily duplicatable--

GIANCARLO NAVAS: That's normal.

IMMAN ADAN: --or replicate-- I can't speak English words. And it's like, no, what Pascal did was insane.

[LAUGHS]

And to just expect that from all of the guys that you get, regardless of the development stuff that you do have, it's just not something that, like, you can easily bank on or bet on guys to do. So I'm with you in that. I just think that like maybe the way that I'm looking at this team is a little bit different. And I honestly had not even considered OG for a star and try to run it with this team and see how that goes.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: OG and stuff, because obviously, like, OG's not going to--

IMMAN ADAN: Like OG's not going to-- Yeah, OG Anunoby's not going to be enough.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: And I don't know what salary they have to attach as well. I mean, they have OG on a great deal. How many years does OG have left on the deal? Sorry for putting you on the spot for caps. Yeah, whatever.

IMMAN ADAN: I have no idea.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Yeah. I mean, it's going to be him, draft equity, and then whatever salaries that you can put together.

IMMAN ADAN: What is it? Like three years maybe?

GIANCARLO NAVAS: What a steal.

[LAUGHS]

IMMAN ADAN: I think? I mean, yeah.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Build the side of the statue.

IMMAN ADAN: [LAUGHS]

So I'm completely with you on that. I think the way that I just sort of see this team, and maybe my expectations for them alone-- I'm not looking at championship and I'm looking at development with these guys and seeing where Pascal can really take them-- I'm with you. I think Pascal is going to have a fantastic season next year.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: Yeah.

IMMAN ADAN: I'm knocking on all sorts of wood right now, but like this is going to be his first offseason that he's had since the championship, really. Because the bubble, COVID, injuries, shoulder surgery. This is actually his first offseason and it's going to be the extended offseason. Obviously, the championship run he had the shortest offseason of anyone because he just won a championship. So this is going to be the first offseason that we're going to get. And something that he did in the championship offseason coming into the 2020 year was really improve that 3-point shot.

His pull-up game was good, right? His catch-and-shoot game was good, in comparison to the 29% that he had the following year or something ridiculous where it might have even been lower than that. It was somewhere in the 20s, I think, his pull-up game in the following year, and that's part of why everyone was talking about the, Pascal is struggling so much, as he just didn't have that element. He didn't have that as a part of his game. And so what I'm sort of looking at is like Pascal, Fred, Scottie really developing.

And something that I really enjoyed with OG and Gary, and I'm sad that we didn't really get this, is OG's ability to just be your tertiary option and get you 18 points a night and just kind of sleepwalk to it because of how often guys trap Fred and Pascal and how great they are at making those reads and making that pass. You kind of just have OG, who is your best post player, the best 3-point shooter of the bunch, but also the best post player of, I think, the entire team, really, just being able to get work in down low or space the floor.

It just felt like he was so versatile. And I think his versatile skill set just feels like it fits with the glue of what this team does. But also, if you can get a superstar for your glue guy, I think you'd do that at any point. But OG just feels so integral to whatever iteration of this team we're seeing and I just-- I'm kind of interested in seeing how high and how far they can go because I just think we just are scratching the surface of what they can really be. And so where I'm looking at it is, I was thinking add in another guy. Bring in another ball handler, bring in another shooter, because that's what this team really needs, and just sort of add to this core. But I am not mad at what you did, which is, no, win a championship.

[LAUGHS]

Like, swing for the fences.

GIANCARLO NAVAS: I mean, they're good enough. Don't waste these guys' prime.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

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