Finding joy in dismal Raptors season all a matter of perspective

It has been a tough season for Raptors fans, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been some fun to be had.
It has been a tough season for Raptors fans, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been some fun to be had.  

TORONTO – Loyalty, patience and hope were the sentiments being expressed Tuesday night ahead of the Toronto Raptors’ worst home loss in franchise history, a 41-point blowout at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans.

It hasn’t been a fun season for Raptors fans, who endured more hardship this week with Scottie Barnes suffering a season-ending hand injury and Jakob Poeltl joining him on the sidelines indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a torn finger ligament.

But optimism still reigns for those with realistic expectations and an eye on the future, especially with the Raptors in the mix for two potential lottery picks in the 2024 NBA Draft.

“We’re rebuilding. Get a good draft pick. But we’ll be up there in five years,” one fan said.

Toronto currently owns Indiana’s first-round pick and have an outside shot at keeping their original first-round pick that was sent to San Antonio in last year’s Poeltl trade if the pick lands in the top six. Following a pair of losses this week, the Raptors sit 24th in the league.    

“They’ve done a good job of bringing players in. Now it’s just about figuring out roles … and getting a good team culture and moving forward,” said fan David Carter. “I hope we can add some more pieces through the draft.”

The Raptors can also add more pieces this offseason by exploring the trade market.

“Maybe trade Bruce Brown and look for some players that are going to be free agents at the end of the season,” another fan suggested. “We need more in the middle, for centres.”

While dreaming up moves management needs to make to turn the Raptors into a playoff contender again, fans outside Scotiabank Arena were jubilant about Kelly Olynyk’s addition to the roster. The 32-year-old, Toronto-born centre has fit in nicely with the team since coming over in a trade with Utah and has quickly become a fan favourite.  

“I think Kelly Olynyk is a great player. He’s a team player. Team first guy. He took $25 million, which is kind of a discount, to play in Toronto. It’s his hometown team,” said Carter. “And I think he adds a piece that he could play anywhere on the floor, particularly in that front court. And he’s a guy that passes the ball, shoots well, stretches the floor, so it’s a good piece for Toronto to be able to pick up.”

This may not be the golden age of Raptors basketball, and it could take a while for the team to return to respectability, but in the meantime fans are still able to find joy in watching some of the best athletes in the world put on a show.  

“I think the game is going to be faster and bigger; evolved,” said a fan visiting from Belgium who last watched the team live while studying in Toronto 20 years ago. “I am very happy that my friend brought me here to see the Raptors.”

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By: , and
Posted: Mar 8 2024 3:19 pm
Edition: Toronto
Filed under: Special Reports Basketball Sports Toronto Raptors