24-34 • 12th in EASTERN CONFERENCE
The Toronto Raptors are a Candian professional basketball team that plays in the Atlantic Division of the National Basketball Association's Eastern Conference. Based out of Toronto, Canada, this team plays its home games in the Scotiabank Arena. However, due to COVID-19 travel protocols, the Raptors have been playing their home games at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida in 2021. Established in 1995, the Raptors are one of the younger franchises in the NBA.
The Raptors memorably went on a fairytale-like championship run in 2019 to bag their first title in franchise history. Toronto took down the mighty Golden State Warriors in the Finals, effectively putting an end to the Dubs dynasty. Kawhi Leonard led the charge for the Raptors that year, bagging Finals MVP honors.
Aside from Leonard, a number of stars gained legendary status with the Raptors. Vince Carter was one of the franchise's first stars during the early years, as was the case for Tracy McGrady. The likes of Chris Bosh, Kyle Lowry, and DeMar DeRozan also made their respective marks on the Raptors through the years.
The Raptors established themselves as a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference over the past few years. Toronto has made it to the playoffs seven consecutive seasons dating back to 2014. They reached the pinnacle of the NBA in 2019, when they went all the way to win the first championship in franchise history.
Kawhi Leonard, the man that led Toronto to glory during that historic title run, parted ways with the team as a free agent right after they won the championship. This set the Raptors back a bit and they were unable to defend their crown last season. At the moment, Pascal Siakam has taken on the role as the team's cornerstone superstar as he looks to lead the charge for the Raptors for years to come.
After his breakout play in the 2018-2019 season, Pascal Siakam is looking to be the main superstar for the Toronto Raptors. He won the Most Improved Player award that season and was one of the biggest weapons during the Raptors' championship run. The Cameroon-native followed that up with another stellar outing last season by making it to his first NBA All-Star team as well as his first All-NBA Second-Team selection. Looking at his stats since entering the league in 2016, you can clearly see the trajectory for the 26-year old is pointing up.
He entered the 2020 playoffs averaging career highs in almost every facet of his game and was even in the running to win the MIP award again. Unfortunately, Siakam couldn't get things going in the NBA Bubble in Disney and was virtually a non-factor in the Raptors' bid to defend their crown, which has fans and experts doubting the young man's ceiling.
After just four years and his play improving by leaps and bounds, it's clear that Siakam hasn't reached his peak just yet. Hopefully for Toronto, a few more seasons and playoff stints will help build his character so Siakam can reach his superstar potential.
Over the past few seasons, teams that land huge superstars in the offseason are the ones usually competing for titles. The Raptors can attest to this when they traded for Kawhi Leonard prior to the 2018-2019 season when they won their first and only championship. Given that they failed to defend their title without Kawhi in 2020, and with key pieces of their championship roster heading out in the offseason, it might be tough for Toronto to get back over the hump and win the championship in 2021.
Fortunately for the Raptors, the Eastern Conference has been up for grabs ever since LeBron James left, giving them an outside chance to at least make the game’s biggest stage. The biggest threats for the Eastern Conference title in 2021 figure to be the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets.
After running it back with the Raptors last season to try and defend their 2018-19 crown, big men Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka decided to sign elsewhere for the 2020-2021 season which is somewhat worrying for Toronto. Gasol, who decided to go to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, was a primary starter last season and provided a major presence in the paint. The former Defensive Player of the Year will definitely be missed in Toronto's frontcourt.
Ibaka, who flew to another LA team in the Los Angeles Clippers, was a key off-the-bench forward for Nick Nurse all of last season. His ability to stretch the floor with his shooting as well as his defensive presence will certainly be missed.
Though the Raptors immediately replaced these two bigs by signing Aron Baynes from the Phoenix Suns as well as Alex Len from the Sacramento Kings, they will miss the experience and talent that Gasol and Ibaka both bring to the table. Baynes has the size of Gasol plus the shooting of Ibaka, but the eight-year vet will have a daunting task filling in as Toronto's primary big man moving forward. Len is also a good pick-up, but the biggest problem that the 27-year-old has dealt with his entire career is consistency. Len showed a ton of promise early in his career with the Suns, but he slowly fell off the depth chart as his instability took center stage.
The Raptors are hoping for a breakout year from former G-League MVP Chris Boucher, who they signed on a multi-year deal this offseason. Though the loss of Gasol and Ibaka will definitely hurt the Raptors off the bat, the front office did enough to potentially retool the squad for the better.
Pascal Siakam is the Toronto Raptors' best player right now. "Spicy P" led the team in scoring last season with 22.9 points per game and was also second in rebounds (7.3) and blocks (0.9). The 26-year old stepped up big for last year's defending champions as they tried to figure things out without Kawhi Leonard leading the way. The 2019 MIP found ways to improve even further and was in the running to win the MIP award again to further prove that he's not done honing his game. He also made his first All-Star team in 2019-20.
After just four seasons in the NBA, the Cameroonian has been one of the brightest young talents in the league. Siakam has improved immensely year-to-year but his talent is still quite raw, which gives Raptors fans something to look forward to. With key players like Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka signing elsewhere, look for Siakam to further cement his name as the Raptors' main star moving forward.
After winning their first NBA championship in 2019, the Toronto Raptors are now worth a whopping $2.15 billion, which puts them at No. 10 in the league (per Forbes). Their incredible run in the 2019 playoffs helped them rake in revenue and profit from their 12 home games. A huge boost also came from Scoatiabank stepping in as their arena's naming rights sponsor, which came in a blockbuster deal worth $640 million over 20 years.
Currently, the Toronto Raptors play at Scotiabank Arena in Downtown Toronto. The iconic stadium, formerly known as Air Canada Centre, has been home to the Raptors since its early days in 1999 and also hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL and other Toronto-based teams.
The arena made history in July 2018 when it got into a 20-year sponsorship deal with Scotiabank worth $640 million (or C$800 million) which was said to be one of the highest-priced annual building and team sponsorship in North American sports history.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Raptors will begin the 2020-21 season playing their home games at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment LTD owns the Toronto Raptors. The MLSE is one of the biggest sports and entertainment companies in North America. They also own the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) and Toronto FC (MLS).
In addition to owning the actual team, MLSE also owns the Scotiabank Arena (formerly known as Air Canada Centre) where the Raptors play as well as the OVO Athletic Center where the team trains.
Nick Nurse is the current head coach of the Toronto Raptors. The 53-year old has been with the team since 2013. He served as an assistant coach job for five seasons before being promoted to head coach in 2018. In his first season, Nurse brought the Raptors all the way to the promised land, as he helped the franchise win its first ever NBA title. Although he failed to defend his crown last season, Nurse helped his team earn the second seed in the Eastern Conference and took the Raptors all the way to a Game 7 duel against the Boston Celtics in the second round. He also won the 2020 Coach of the Year Award.
Prior to his stint in the NBA, Nurse coached in the G-League as well as the NCAA and other professional leagues in Europe. He also currently coaches the Canadian National Basketball Team.
The Toronto Raptors currently have eight assistant coaches listed for the 2020-2021 season. They are Adrian Griffin, John Corbacio, Brittni Donaldson, Jon Goodwillie, Patrick Mutumbo, Jim Sann, and Sergio Scariolo. Corbacio, Donaldson and Goodwillie have been with the team for just one season, while Sann and Mutombo will be on their fifth season as assistant coaches. Among the eight, only Griffin and Mutombo have professional playing experience, with Griffin playing in the league for 10 seasons.
There have been a few noteworthy tacticians that blessed the relatively young Toronto Raptors franchise with their basketball wizardry, and arguably is Dwane Casey. Casey, who took charge of the team from 2011-2018, helped the franchise achieve incredible success. He's at the top of the franchise list in terms of regular season and playoff wins. His last season in Toronto was one of his best seasons as an NBA head coach, as he was named an All-Star Coach and won both the NBA and NBCA Coach of the Year awards.
Casey's replacement in 2018 also makes it to the list, for obvious reasons. Nick Nurse instantly won the hearts of Toronto fans everywhere after he ended his impressive debut season with an NBA title. Though his tenure as head coach in Toronto hasn't been long, it has been one of the more successful ones already. He has a handful of Eastern Conference Coach of the Month nods, a Coach of the Year Award (2020), and a shiny championship ring all after just two seasons. At this rate, it won't be surprising if Nurse ends up as the greatest coach in Raptors history.
Other notable head coaches for the Raptors are Sam Mitchell and Lenny Wilkens. Mitchell and Wilkens both had short stints with the team but made big impacts. Wilkens was the head coach from 2000-2003 and brought the team to two postseasons, winning eight playoff games. Mitchell stepped in after Wilkens and replicated what his predecessor accomplished. Mitchell also ended up winning the Coach of The Year Award in 2007 - his second to last season with the franchise.
2019 NBA Champion Kyle Lowry stands as the best Raptors of all time given everything he’s done for the franchise in his career. The 34-year old has played eight seasons in Toronto and has showcased his loyalty to the franchise each year. Lowry's value throughout his Raptors tenure is unmatched, and by finally winning a ring for the franchise, he only cemented his status as one of the best to ever suit up for the Raps. Lowry’s No. 7 will likely go up in the rafters once his playing days are over.
Another member of the Raptors' lone championship team worth mentioning is, of course, Kawhi Leonard. Even though Leonard spent just one season in Toronto, his imprint on the franchise's only title is massive. The two-time Finals MVP was plugged into head coach Nick Nurse's system and ended up leading the team in scoring, minutes, field goals, and steals. Leonard also made one of the biggest shots in franchise history, knocking down a Game 7 buzzer beater to eliminate the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the 2019 playoffs, which opened the door for their successful championship run.
The star Leonard was traded for also makes it on the list. DeMar DeRozan played nine incredible seasons for the Raptors as Lowry's partner in crime. Even if the tandem failed to bring home a title, DeRozan's stay in Toronto helped keep their playoff hopes alive each season. He averaged almost 20 points per game after seven years, which helped build his career as one of the best mid-range shooters in the league.
Numbers four and five go to other Raptors icons, Vince Carter and Chris Bosh. Carter was one of the earlier superstars that helped put the Raptors on the map; he will forever be loved by the city of Toronto. After Carter left, it was Bosh who he passed the torched to, and the Texas native didn't disappoint. Both superstars were also members of the All-Star team multiple times, and it wouldn't be surprising if their respective jerseys are retired by the franchise.
Both Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard instantly became Toronto legends after they led the franchise to their first-ever NBA title in 2019. Lowry has been with the franchise for almost a decade now, and finally winning his ring in Toronto will keep him at the top of the list of Raptors greats.
Leonard, on the other hand, only played for one season, but that didn't stop him from achieving legendary status. The two-time Finals MVP's one-and-done season in Toronto was one of the best single-season stints in NBA history.
Other legends who deserve to be mentioned here are Pascal Siakam, who was also a huge part of that 2019 championship run, and DeMar DeRozan. Although DeRozan's departure was the one that paved the way for Leonard's entry, the swingman helped build the foundation of the team and was one of the best to ever play in a Raptors uniform. Same goes for Vince Carter and Chris Bosh, who, in their own times, helped keep things competitive in Toronto.
Other names that are worthy of being thrown in the mix are Jose Calderon, Antonio Davis, and Damon Soudamire, who all made significant contributions to the franchise over the years.