It is hard to argue with the line from a Bon Jovi song when talking about the Toronto Raptors these days. No we’re not talking about living on prayer. “It’s all the same only the names have changed,” seems to fit this time of year perfectly. A loss to one of the worst teams in the NBA only helps to cause people to lose what little interest they have left in this season. The Raptors are just 3-8 against the team that I have dubbed the bobkittens (In the last three seasons). It is a source of embarrassment or it should be for this franchise.
The Raptors have a home and home series with Knicks on Friday and Saturday that most will not pay much attention with March Madness now underway. The Raptors unless they are extremely lucky will not be drafting any of the young men we see in the tournament this year. The only way the Raptors would do so is if they won the draft lottery. If not Oklahoma City will take that pick and given their success as a franchise in the draft likely find a talented player from whatever spot in the lottery they end up selecting.
It just seems like after that loss in Milwaukee that pretty much ended any dreams of a playoff run for the Raptors it has sucked the life out of this season. There is a real sense of who cares from the fan base. I can not tell you how many people have come up to me and said they are done with the Raptors this season. Fans changing focus to the Leafs, others looking forward to baseball season with Blue Jays basically the Raptors’ have lost the attention of most. They have moved on to something else.
This off-season will be less interesting from ones in the past. The real major stories will be if the Raptors can move Andrea Bargnani. If not would they dare use their Amnesty clause or just do the expected and use it on Linas Kleiza. There is also the question of Bryan Colangelo’s future which I expect will be put on ice for a year by picking up his option on his contract. Some feel that Dwane Casey could be in trouble. I personally don’t see that happening. I feel strongly that Casey and Colangelo’s fate are joined at the hip.
One thing when you watch March Madness you can’t help but notice is the influx of Canadian talent that is invading U.S college basketball. When will the Raptors start to turn that into players on their roster? It wasn’t Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph or Andrew Nicholson. It is safe to assume the Raptors will be too good for it to be Andrew Wiggins next season. At some point the Raptors need to tap into this generation of Canadians they have helped create by simply existing.
Does having a group of two or three young Canadians on the roster make a difference? In terms of basketball it might not. In terms of giving fans a reason to root for this team it is absolutely crazy to suggest it would not have an impact. Anthony Bennett was playing for UNLV and Kevin Pangos and Kelly Olynyk for Gonzaga. That is just the tip of the iceberg of Canadians that were in action in the NCAA Tournament yesterday with more today. Olynyk was feature on the cover of Sports Illustrated and there was an article on the rise of Canadians in the NCAA.
This rise is far more important to the Raptors’ long term future and what they do about it than anything that goes on with this current group the Raptors have. It is vital that the Raptors do not see an NBA with all these talented Canadians coming to town to beat the Raptors like Steve Nash did for many years with Suns and before that the Mavericks. That would be heartbreaking for a lot of folks that bleed basketball in this country. Sure this doesn’t address the short term problems this franchise faces. Still the Raptors need to be very aware of going forward.