Toronto is first team in 50 years to reach NBA Finals without a Top-10 pick playing
The Toronto Raptors made history on Saturday night after punching their ticket to the NBA Finals for the first time in their 24 years of existence. Likewise, according to Elias Sports, they did so by becoming the first team in 50 years to make the championship round without a top-10 pick, per Paul Hembekides of ESPN.
The Raptors reach the NBA Finals without a top-10 pick playing a single minute for them in the playoffs.
According to @EliasSports, no team had done that in the last 50 years.
— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) May 26, 2019
Not surprisingly, the highest selected player on the roster is Kawhi Leonard. The Raptors superstar was the 15th overall selection in 2011.
Of the regular Raptors rotation in the postseason, with the exception of O.G. Anunoby (23rd overall in 2017), who has been out due to appendectomy, the next highest are Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Both were the 24th picks in their respective drafts – 2006 for Lowry and 2008 for Ibaka.
Most Improved Player finalist Pascal Siakam is the only other first rounder, selected 27th overall in 2016. Moreover, Siakam, with the exception Anunoby, is the only draft pick made by Toronto.
As we can see, this Raptors squad wasn’t built through the draft. Team president Masai Ujiri had to build this team by trading for proven veterans – as with Leonard, Green, Ibaka, and Gasol. Likewise, he also did so by finding diamonds in the rough, with the likes of Siakam, VanVleet, and to an extent, Anunoby.
This squad of unheralded talent coming out of college is now headed to the NBA Finals, led by their silent assassin of a superstar in Kawhi Leonard.
*Information on players’ draft selection taken from Basketball RealGM.