Toronto Raptors: How to define success in 2018

AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 05: Kyle Lowry /

The Toronto Raptors enter the 2018 season with low odds of winning a Championship. Considering this, how should the team define success for the upcoming season?

In what has been an extremely eventful NBA offseason, the Toronto Raptors have positioned themselves to be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference again next season. With the re-signing of Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, Masai Ujiri ensured the team will be in the playoff picture.

The acquisition of C.J. Miles has seriously improved the team’s ability to score from beyond the three-point line. Based on these moves, many publications would list the Raptors as a team that has had an especially successful offseason.

However, in the era of super teams, it is necessary to be realistic. This applies to how we quantify success for this Raptors team next season.

With the Raptors “Big 3” of Lowry, Ibaka and DeMar DeRozan returning, Miles replacing DeMarre Carroll/P.J. Tucker on the wing, and the improvements made by Norman Powell and Delon Wright, there is a good argument that this Raptors team will be better than last season’s group.

With that being said, the odds of this team beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers remains low. Additionally, the odds of defeating the Golden State Warriors if they do somehow get past the Cavs are even lower.

So, for this Raptors group, aspiring for an NBA title this coming season appears to be an unrealistic goal. However, since this is the landscape of the league as of today, we can still attempt to establish some goals that would make the upcoming season a success for the Raptors.

1) Eastern Conference Finals 

The Boston Celtics have improved this offseason, with the additions of Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum being the major highlights. Adding these pieces to a team that already finished first in the East establishes them as the clear favourite to face Cleveland in the Conference Finals.

However, this team is not as far ahead of the Toronto Raptors as some people may think. Avery Bradley has been moved, and one or both of Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart could soon follow.

This would leave younger players to fill some key roles for the Celtics. Players like Jaylen Brown and Tatum will be very good for years to come, but there are still questions as to whether they will be prepared to take on larger roles in a deep playoff run this season.

There will also be questions about team chemistry. Hayward, Tatum and Marcus Morris are all talented basketball players, but it can take some time for a new group to fully mesh together. If this process doesn’t go smoothly right away, it will help close the gap between the Celtics and Raptors.

Based off the questions that exist — for now — in Boston, the Raptors can realistically set their sights on an upset over their division rival. Considering the upside for this young Boston group, this could be one of the last year’s for a while where that is a realistic target.

2) Consistent Minutes for Young Players

The Raptors parted with their first round draft pick next year in order to dump Carroll’s contract on Brooklyn, and likely won’t be selecting in the lottery the next couple years. With this being the case, they will need to successfully develop some of the young talent they already have.

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Last season, Norman Powell averaged only 18 minutes per game. Wright, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl all averaged even less playing time.

It is likely Dwane Casey will take a similar approach with OG Anunoby, once he is healthy. However, this really needs to change.

The Toronto Raptors likely won’t be winning a championship anytime soon, so it is critical they don’t allow their attempts to compete now stand in the way of the development of their future core.

Winning is the main priority, but it is important the youngsters still see consistent and significant floor time. By allowing these younger players to gain more experience, the Raptors will be better prepared to handle their eventual rebuild.


The Toronto Raptors have decided to compete in an era in which their chances of winning a championship are minimal. However, a Conference Finals birth is not out of the question, and is a fair goal for the team this season.

The Boston Celtics may not be beatable in the coming years, but for this season they still appear vulnerable. At the same time, the development of young players will need to be considered.

Next: Raptors trade Corey Joseph to Pacers

If the Raptors can consistently involve some of these younger players, the team will be in a much better position in the future, when a title may actually be attainable. Since a championship is likely out of reach, these two goals can define success for the Raptors this coming season.