On the debut episode our new Raptors show, "Strictly Hoops with C.J. Miles," the former Raptor suggests the current makeup of the team may not require a bonafide number one option to win their second NBA title in franchise history. The full episode can be listened to on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed or watched on our Yahoo Sports Canada YouTube channel.
AMIT MANN: --lot of people, with Pascal as well, they talk about, you know, superstar. The Raptors won a championship. They had Kawhi Leonard.
And you go down the history books, right, most teams have a guy. And that is a person that they go to in late shot clock situations. That's the person that gets the ball with 20 seconds left, all that kind of stuff.
Do you need a superstar to win a championship? Because I think-- I mean, when Pascal said he wanted to be top five, or he thinks he can be, people were just like, whoa, what? What do you mean? You think you're that guy?
And that means-- I mean, he thinks of himself as that guy. Or that's where he could get to at some point. But in the end, I mean, with the Raptors and what they're building, I don't know.
I mean, do they need a superstar, necessarily? Do they need him to be, like, that kind of a guy? Or can they get away with just being a team such as the 2004 Pistons, a team that just overwhelmed you with size, like, from forward down? Their defense was the thing that was their calling card. And then they got the contributions they needed at the right times.
CJ MILES: I think-- so to speak on, first, Pascal being top five, and people saying, do you think he could be that guy, the biggest thing-- the only reason that's even brought up with him is because most guys are crowned when they come in the league. They're going to be a guy.
AMIT MANN: Mm.
CJ MILES: Like, Pascal was basically the opposite. He's going to be a piece. We're going to develop him. He's going to help us. He's going to be a-- like, nobody saw, except the people that were in the gym, what he could turn into.
We knew it right away. When I got there, we were like, he could be anything. He was that athletic, that willing. He was that moldable.
It was just about the time, and experience, and letting him get there, and if he wanted-- if he wanted to be, which is why he will be top five. Because I've seen the evidence of him wanting to be what he is right now. And he's there.
So I believe him. Like, that's just me. Obviously, I'm biased a little bit. But I believe him.
And then as far as, like, the team, I don't think so. When you look at this team, I think they're-- we talked about this once before, just being that guy in certain moments. So like last night, that game, Philly tries to make it a slugfest. There's a couple of times they get 15, 16, it turns to 9, and all these things.
And then Freddie's like, hold on. Makes two 3's, orchestrates a couple plays. Even the last play that causes the timeout, that Scottie Barnes gets the dunk on the baseline from Pascal--
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
CJ MILES: --Freddie orchestrates that whole play, if you go watch it.
AMIT MANN: (WHISPERS) Yeah.
CJ MILES: Scottie's trying to run up. He's like, no, go stand right there. I got it. Goes to the elbow, waits for the clock to go down a little bit, runs up and sets the screen for Pascal.
Pascal gets a straight line because they don't want to switch, because they don't want the point guard. And he gets to the front of the rim. And now, it's just him and Scottie Barnes's man.
And it's an easy dump-off. And that's strictly because Fred just slowed everybody down and was like, look, I got it. This is what we're doing.
And then you have Scottie Barnes, who's going to be able to show-- and it's going to be quarters of games that are going to be his. Like, he's going to wreak havoc on both ends. He's going to be making--
He's passing the ball extremely well. He's going to be scoring. He's going to be driving. He's going to have post ups.
OG, with the matches he's getting now, like, they're putting smaller guys on him because they're kind of disregarding him. He's running for early post ups now. There's going to be situations like that.
I've seen-- we know Chris Boucher can change the game. Precious looks so mobile. That's the biggest thing I've seen with him this year. He looks so much-- not that he was out of shape before, but the shape he's in now and the way he's moving, like, him going coast to coast, giving people little moves and getting to the rim is, like-- it's another dynamic.
AMIT MANN: Yeah. It's like confidence, right? Because he's not thinking as much. He's just going because he knows he's making the right decision, as opposed to last season, when he wasn't really sure. And in that moment when you're not really sure, seconds are going off, right? Seconds are going off the clock, you know?
CJ MILES: And the holes close quick at this level. Everybody's supreme athletes. Like, even the guys that we're dubbing not athletic, it's just because the other guys are, like, the most supreme athletes of all the time, you know what I mean? So we've got to think about how fast gaps close and how fast the reads have to be.
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
CJ MILES: Which is why you get a lot of young players that are playing too fast. Because they realize that, and they've never seen it. And they're just-- they're just, like, shaken.