How the Toronto Raptors took their NBA Team to Another Level
On 14 June 2019 the Toronto Raptors became the first basketball team from Canada to win an NBA Championship, defeating the two-time defending champions, the Golden State Warriors, in an extremely tight Game 6 to take the series at the Oracle Arena. This victory was in the making for the last 24 years, the age of the Toronto Raptors franchise who are the only NBA team that is still active in Canada.
The phenomenal Toronto Raptors win in the 2019 NBA Finals united Canada unlike any other sports team before them. Not only did it spark enormous parties across the Great White North, but it also created four players who managed to accumulate 22 points or more during the final game. Now, everyone is wondering how the Toronto Raptors developed such an elite basketball team while only utilizing non-lottery players.
The Origins of an NBA Team from Canada
There are several ways in which you can build an NBA team. This can include trading players, signing players through a free agency, or drafting players. Due to the complicated and convoluted nature of this process, most NBA teams simply rely on tanking, crossing their fingers in hopes that the player they are drafting is a franchise player. Whether or not this process works is another question entirely. However, there’s one NBA team that did things a little differently and that team is the Toronto Raptors.
The Toronto Raptors franchise, throughout its rich history, has had several problems trying to sign big name free agents. Therefore, the only way that the franchise was able to build an it’s current team was by trading and drafting players. Through this process, the Toronto Raptors have in some way managed to build a championship roster with only non-lottery players. So how exactly did the Toronto Raptors pull this off?
The rebuilding process of the Toronto Raptors started on 11 July 2012, a year before Masai Ujiri took the General Manager role for the Toronto Raptors. During that time, the Raptors were in desperate need of a high calibre point-guard but didn’t have anything at their disposal. Fortunately for them, the Houston Rockets gave up on Kyle Lowry. Fast-forward to 31 May 2013, when Masai Ujiri took over, and you’ll notice that there were several things that the General Manager had to take care of upon his arrival.
Problems that Masai Ujiri had to Resolve in the Toronto Raptors Squad
One of the first problems that Masai Ujiri had to take care of immediately was Andrea Bargani, due to the fact that he wasn’t productive at all and most people considered him to be a bust. To successfully solve this problem, Masai Ujiri had to unload Bargani to a gullible franchise within the NBA and it should come as no surprise that the New York Knicks were prime pickings due to the fact that they offered Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, Steve Novak, two second-round picks, and a 2016 first-rounder.
During December 2013, Masai Ujiri faced his second problem which he had to address in the form of Rudy Gay. Just like Bargani, he had to find a franchise that would trade for Rudy Gay. Fortunately for him, the Sacramento Kings were perhaps a little foolish due to the fact that they were willing to give up Chuck Hayes, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, and Greivis Vasquez. By the end of 2013, there were significant improvements in the team, especially due to the chemistry that was created between Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. During the 2013/14 season, the Toronto Raptors were gunning for a playoff push and that’s exactly what they did. They managed to finish the season with an impressive record of 48 and 34, but fell short in the first round. This same unfortunate story occurred during the 2014/15 season as well.
The biggest problem for the team was a lack of experience and Masai Ujiri could only change or improve that which he had control over. This brings us to the 2015 draft where the Toronto Raptors selected Delon Wright, the 20th overall pick of the 2015 NBA draft. The Toronto Raptors decided to go in a different direction with Vasquez as Wright could potentially fill his role without any problems. Later on in the evening, during the second round with a 16th pick, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Norman Powell. Toronto decided to seize the opportunity and trade Vasquez to receive Norman Powell and a 2017 first-round pick.
The Rise of an Elite Basketball Team
The year is 2015, and the Toronto Raptors, with the new found bench depth, were a 56-point team at the end of the season and managed to find themselves in the Conference Finals before they fell short to the Cleveland Cavaliers. This brings us to the 2016 draft where the Toronto Raptors had two first-rounders, one of which was Jakob Poeltl while the second was Pascal Siakam. A couple of weeks later, the Toronto Raptors added even more depth to the bench by obtaining Fred VanVleet.
Masai Ujiri had to make more improvements on his team to cover his weakest positions. He found himself yet again looking for a somewhat credulous team to help him get exactly what he needed by trading Terence Ross. Fortunately, Orlando Magic helped him out significantly. For whatever reason, Orlando Magic decided to take a huge risk by trading away Victor Oladipo to receive Serge Ibaka for a year. So, Masai Ujiri took advantage of this opportunity yet again by trading Terence Ross and receiving Serge Ibaka. This wasn’t enough during the playoffs as the Toronto Raptors yet again fell short for the second consecutive season against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This brings us to the 2017 draft where the Toronto Raptors had a first-round pick which materialized in the form of OG Anunoby. He was tasked to take care of LeBron James during the playoffs, but this didn’t end too well for the Toronto Raptors as they yet again lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers for their third consecutive season. This left Masai Ujiri with a very difficult decision as he already did his part of obtaining a glorious roster of players but somehow still missed the mark during the post-season. Therefore, in the summer of 2018, more changes needed to be made. He decided to fire Dwayne Casey and promote Nick Nurse as the new head coach of the team and made a decision on DeMar DeRozan at the same time.
Masai Ujiri was victorious yet again in another transaction when he decided to trade DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl to the San Antonio Spurs. In return, the Toronto Raptors received Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. On 7 February 2019, Masai Ujiri admitted to having a weakness in his rotation when it came to the center position and decided to find another desperate team to help him out. The Memphis Grizzlies answered the call, allowing him to trade away CJ Miles, Delon Wright, and Jonas Valanciunas to receive Marc Gasol. In fact, Jonas Valanciunas was the Toronto Raptors’ last lottery player. This brings us to where we are today with the Toronto Raptors now on top of the leaderboard.
This has been a moment for Canadians who really wished the recent push by Finance Minister for Ontario, Vic Fedeli for an amendment to the criminal code and legalize single event sports betting came through (at the moment only parlays are allowed). However, Canada is closer to regulating the industry and in the near future we’ll hopefully see this as a reality.
The Toronto Raptors’ Odds of Winning the 2019 NBA Championship
The Toronto Raptors managed to claim a 105-92 win against the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 to instantly transform into the favorites to win their first NBA championship in the history of the franchise thanks to an incredible 3-1 series lead. The Golden State Warriors were clear favorites before Game 4 at -320 to win even though they didn’t have Kevin Durant on the team.
During Game 5, the Golden State Warriors made a remarkable comeback by defeating the Toronto Raptors 106-105 which allowed the Golden State Warriors to play for an additional game to potentially clinch the NBA championship. However, the Toronto Raptors made history in Game 6 when they came out on top by beating the Golden State Warriors 114-110 to claim the 2019 NBA Championship. The 2019/20 NBA regular season will begin in October 2019, giving you ample opportunity to learn everything there is to know about NBA betting before the season gets underway. Let’s hope the Toronto Raptors can defend their title successfully in the upcoming season.