I find myself trying to get inspired for this Raptors season and it really just isn’t happening for me. I want to believe there is a brighter day and that may well be the case with Ujiri and Leiweke. This is of course likely the way many felt when Bryan Colangelo first got here. This might be the point I am getting to after 18 years of this team basically I think we have seen it all.
Ok I admit a Global Ambassador rapper was new but really maybe not. Is Master P getting a tryout really much different than Drake? I guess time will tell on that one. Both at the end of day seem like gimmicks to draw in a broader audience and attract attention.
Landry Fields is the latest over paid guy that people hate based on just that. Terrence Ross is the latest young up and comer that people try to make into Vince Carter or Tracy McGrady. It takes so little to get people excited about players like Ross. He has a fan friendly type of game with the highlight dunks. A couple of good games and the T-Ross train is back on course to super stardom.
I remember long before there was this blog I use to host a basketball segment on a sports talk show. On that segment I would chat with at the time Raptors broadcaster Chuck Swirsky. I remember being in the little studio thinking how awful the week ahead looked for the Raptors. I would have a conversation with Chuck and I was convinced that maybe I had been wrong and to jaded. Most times I in fact wasn’t and the grim reality started to sink in about what the Raptors actually were as a team.
No one could sell this team like Chuck Swirsky. I think what happened though is a lot of fans like myself wanted to believe in this team and what Chuck was selling. Now it seems far too silly to buy into the hype and nonsense that is said about a lot of the players on this team.
Raptors are once again looking like a team on surface that looks pretty good in the pre-season. The record that we all say doesn’t matter is still kept and let’s face it if this team was 1-6 and not 6-1 people would be in a panic mode. Just last season this team exited the pre-season with just one loss and had a lot of people wondering if they would be a surprise team. After a 4-19 start there was no one left wondering about the merits of how good this team was anymore.
So what is different about this team? The obvious is Rudy Gay who was not a part of that horrible start to the season. I just have not really been impressed with what we have seen to this point. The guy is paid like he is an elite player and an all-star but he falls short of that level. Tyler Hansbrough has got a lot of talk in the pre-season but is he really going to be much better than the hot start Ed Davis had last season? Bargnani is gone at least there is that right. Jose Calderon is as well but the Raptors situation behind Lowry is far less stable without him.
To take this to a broader level the Raptors bench which was by no means world beaters last season looks to be not even as good as that this season. Even if I put on my rose coloured glasses on full blast I have a hard time seeing this team being any better than seventh in the East. Which when you haven’t made the playoffs in five years isn’t the worst thing in the world. In any other year but this one that might be true.
The elephant in the room and that hangs over this season not just for the Raptors but many teams in this league is a young talented Canadian native at the top of every draft board at Kansas. He is backed up by some more than acceptable consolation prizes. If there was ever a year to target the lottery this might be the year for the Toronto Raptors and several other traditional NBA bottom feeders. It has to be good when the Celtics and Sixers have already waved the white flag on this season before it ever tips off.
To me Andrew Wiggins is the answer to many of the Raptors problems. I have preached for years in this blog about the need for a true Canadian contributor for this team. Drake is not going to score a basket for the Raptors at the end of the day. Andrew Wiggins quite simply will be a game changer for whoever drafts him but no where is that more the case than in Toronto.
Perhaps I am just looking for something or someone to believe in. If I am forced to choose if I believe in this group or Andrew Wiggins to me the answer is pretty obvious. It is hard to believe in much of anything after 18 years that have offered very little joy or hope for the future.