Toronto is in a particularly unique position. Other teams around the NBA have a trio of players that they consider as their best, but none of those teams look at their point guard, shooting guard and small forward as those guys.
The Raptors, on the other hand, do.
Feel free to look at other teams around the league and you'll find that each one has a power forward or center as a member of their big three.
This immediately brings up the question of how does Toronto maximize its success with these three players?
Let's take a look at some ideas for success.
The Raptors finally have a strong foundation to build off of, so there is really no reason for the organization to shake anything up.
By no means should Toronto sit back and become complacent. If they have an opportunity to improve the team then they should take it. It would be foolish not to.
However, they currently have who they need.
Now it's time to let them grow.
The majority of this falls on Toronto's general manager, Bryan Colangelo.
He did a marvelous job at bringing Gay into the organization, and that needs to be good enough for him.
An example of this is that many people feel like Andrea Bargnani needs to be traded. I was even one of those people.
That is, until I realized what the Raptors were in the process of doing.
Bargnani didn't do anything exceptional in those games, but guess what?
They are winning.
Colangelo can't do much to shake this team up because we are all beginning to see what these guys are capable of.
Toronto's big three need to know who's playing around them and that those guys are going to remain there.
Stability will be crucial toward their growth.
Stability rested on Colangelo and this one falls on Toronto head coach Dwane Casey.
Rudy Gay is the star of this team now. It might be a new feeling for some of Toronto's other players, but it's also one that needs to be instilled.
Casey has relied on DeRozan to be his go-to guy all season. He now has two wings who are capable of being that guy.
It's hard to just switch that up halfway through the season, but it is what needs to be done.
You can draw a lot of comparisons between DeRozan and Gay. They are around the same size with Gay being slightly bigger. Both are also incredibly athletic and versatile with their offensive games.
The difference between the two lies in the headline of this section.
This is only DeRozan's fourth year, and it took him a little while to get his career going. It's important to note that barely any fault can be put on him for this, but the fact still remains that he's not quite at the level of Gay.
Believe it or not, but this is Gay's seventh year in the NBA. It feels like he's been here for the longest time, but the wing is a seasoned veteran who is still only 26 years old. He is also a player that has been a consistent closer for multiple years now.
Switching up go-to guys halfway through the season is on the harder side of things to do. Nobody is saying that it isn't.
But doing such a thing will allow Casey to start to put a lineup on the floor that knows its roles and has a "consistent" idea of what to do.
The only way for them to thrive is for them to get into a routine. A routine that stresses consistency.
Let the Big Three Do What They're Best at
Kyle Lowry is an offensive-minded guard who happens to also be an exceptional rebounder for his size. Offense might be his focus, but don't hesitate to put him on the opposition's best ball-handler, either. When it comes down to it, the man is a workhorse.
Here's an example of Lowry in action against the New Orleans Hornets in a game that took place on February 10, 2013. Three minutes and 29 seconds is longer than your typical YouTube video, but I highly suggest that you watch at least the first two minutes of the video.
Why did I suggest the first two minutes you ask?
Because I don't know if you noticed or not, but every clip in the first two minutes of the video takes place in the first quarter.
The kind of energy that he brings to the floor is extremely rare and an unbelievable asset to the Raptors.
Jump to DeMar DeRozan and you'll see a completely different player than Lowry. DeRozan thrives in an area where most NBA players don't spend much time working on. His mid-range jump-shot is lights out. Watch any game of his and you'll see him try to get to his mid-range game almost every time he's looking to score. People know that he's a great athlete, but he's also great at shooting from anywhere outside of the paint and inside of the three-point line.
Another aspect of his skill set that seems to go unrecognized is his talent in the post. He's not the next big center or anything, but he does much more than hold his own down on the block.
We finally get to Rudy Gay.
It was previously stated that Gay is similar to DeRozan, and that will be stated once again. Gay's mid-range jumper is also scary good, and his athleticism is out of this world. In fact, take another look at the clip of Lowry's highlights and pay special attention to how fast Gay is at getting up and down the court, particularly in fast-break scenarios.
The most impressive part of Gay's game is the clutch gene that he seems to possess. He has continually hit big shot after big shot over the course of his career, and that hasn't changed since he got to Toronto.
Getting each of these guys in positions to do what they are best at is the most important way for the Raptors to maximize their potential.
If you think this team is good right now, just wait until you see what they are capable of becoming.
It could be pretty special.
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