Title: Cash, security and status: Raptors under the most pressure when the NBA returns
Date: July 15, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, Eric Koreen and I ran down what each Toronto Raptor has on the line when the season resumes play.
If you consider the Toronto Raptors to be true championship contenders, they are unique in that class since it’s tough to see them having the best player in a series against any of their elite peers. The Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets each boast a superstar, while even teams such as the Boston Celtics (Jayson Tatum), Denver Nuggets (Nikola Jokic) and 76ers (Joel Embiid), would also probably feature the best player in a series against Toronto.
After they finish bristling at the above implication regarding Tatum and Pascal Siakam, Raptors fans know what this means: The team needs to win as a collective more often than not, hoping their depth and cohesion can defeat more top-heavy rosters. That does not mean the Raptors are some sort of egalitarian ideal — to borrow an Orwellian phrase, some Raptors are more equal than others — but success relies on a wider range of players, to higher degrees, than with most other teams.
That is the big takeaway when you look at the Raptors through a team-first perspective. Things change when you get more granular and try to see it from the players’ perspectives. With the Raptors’ seeding games set to begin on Aug. 1, and the playoffs following a few weeks after that, some players will have more on the line than others. While they are all working together on a team goal, they also have individual aspirations. Money, security and status are on the line. With that in mind, here are the Raptors ranked in terms of who has the most pressure on them once the relaunch hits.