It’s like it happened under our nose without noticing it. The Toronto Raptors became a model franchise over a remarkable seven-year span.
It started in 2013 when Masai Ujiri came aboard and made a midseason trade, sending former first-round pick Andrea Bargnani to the hapless New York Knicks for Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, and Marcus Camby. Bargnani was considered untradeable at that point, and to get anything in return was deemed amazing. They also received a first (2016 Jakob Poeltl) AND two 2nd round picks (2014, 2017). What a way to make a statement taking a new gig. Straight fleece job. It really was a sign of things to come.
In 2017, 2018, and 2019 especially, it wasn’t a” can we make a playoff run” kind of thought process for the fan base. It was a “can we beat LeBron in the conference finals this year” type of thinking. Toronto knew they were winning at least 2 playoff series’ every year. Fans were spoiled!
What Went Wrong?
Today, the Raptors sit at a 4-8 record, and it just feels odd. Reasons? Besides the obvious ZERO that the 5 has been all season (minus Boucher, of course), it’s more of what left in the off-season and what they brought to the table instead. Gasol’s play last year was his worst by a long shot but his presence meant something. It’s a quality that wasn’t replaced. You can’t replace Serge Ibaka’s production nor his leadership. You can clearly see that in action while watching from your couch. That’s what this team is missing most.
It’s a minor transition year for the Raps but I still believe they will be hanging around come playoff time. I can say this with conviction: no top 4 seed wants to play Toronto in round one. I think from now on, it will be more Boucher and less of Len/Baynes. Boucher has been phenomenal to begin the year, and I feel they will loosen the leash a bit moving forward. It can only get better from here Raptors fans. Plus, we can always hang our hats on the fact The Raptors got one before the Leafs.