Raptors’ slow start has Raptors fans looking ahead to draft

Raptors fans are looking for reinforcements for the roster amid slow start

Toronto Raptors fan Safaa Ghousuddin
Raptors fan Safaa Ghousuddin is disappointed after another tough loss. Ahmed Dirie/Toronto Observer

The Toronto Raptor’s sluggish start, amid a season-long banishment to Tampa Bay, combined with the substantial loss of talent, has some fans looking beyond this season to the draft.

Losing Kawhi Leonard, the 2019 NBA finals MVP, to the Los Angeles Clippers in that off-season was a blow to the Toronto Raptors but OG Anunoby’s game winner in the playoffs took a lot of the sting out.

“Kawhi who?” says Reddit user ThePen_isMightier. “OG is my best friend now.”

It was the loss of the core of their centre rotation, the subsequent off-season in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, to the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers respectively, that may have signalled to fans that the championship window for this iteration of the Raptors had come to a close.

“They’re too small to compete in the playoffs,” Raptors fan Safaa Ghousuddin says.

The patience is running out for fans accustomed to great play from the centre position.

“They try hard,” Safaa says. “But rebounding is a major issue and it’s very frustrating to watch.”

Social media isn’t known for it penchant for fostering consensus, and there are those with a more positive view on the Raptor’s immediate future given the financial investments in their current roster , the caveat being that reinforcements are needed.

Josh Kern, editor of Raptors HQ, a subsection of SB Nation dedicated to the Toronto Raptors, acknowledged the loss of their centres has been a setback.

“In terms of big man rotation, it’s definitely impacted the team’s play,” Kern says. “Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka were both integral parts of the team and getting new players up to speed takes time.”

“And you can’t really replace Marc Gasol’s defensive instincts, which may have been the best in the league,” added Kern.

Despite the loss of players, Kern does have faith in the current roster as well as in Raptors head coach, Nick Nurse.

“Nick Nurse is a smart coach and the team does have strong defensive players like Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for the group they have now.”

There is another perspective: those still jubilant after the Raptors championship in 2019 and thus are willing to give the organization a longer leash in terms of on-court success.

“If I told you that the Raptors would win a [championship] and be trash forever after, you would take it,” Raptors fan Samee Ali says. “It’s house money for the rest of my life!”

There are Raptors fans on either end of the spectrum in terms of the expectations. The only consensus, if one exists, is that this current iteration isn’t enough to win a championship.

Whether or not that is the be-all and end-all for the fans remains to be seen, but the 2019 championship has bought the organization equity to figure it out, be that a full rebuild or simply retooling.

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Posted: Jan 29 2021 8:09 pm
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