Raptors Return To The Playoffs: A Story Hollywood Would Never Believe

The season started with the Raptors being upstaged by the announcement of Drake as their Global Ambassador and the NBA All-Star Game coming to town in 2016. The expectations of this team were next to nothing. Masai Ujiri many felt was going to gut this roster and look to join the pack of teams looking to cash in on a rich draft class that featured a Canadian Star Andrew Wiggins.

When you consider that was the reality in October the fact we sit at the end of March with the Raptors already having punched their ticket to the playoffs is just too unbelievable for words. What on earth made all of this madness happen? It is always a combination of things for something so unexpected to take place.

The one thing that everyone points too is the trade of Rudy Gay to the Kings after the Raptors had what at the time was an expected poor start. That trade made one of the most unique and fascinating turnarounds in the history of this team take place.  The only thing that rivals it would be the Raptors rallying after Vince Carter went down to injury to make the post season. They won something like 15 of their last 17 games and only made playoffs on the final day of the season.

This Raptor team got on quite the little run after the trade happened. It almost never happened though if you believe the reports that came out a few weeks after the Gay trade. Most saw the Gay trade as not an attempt to transform the Raptors but as the first step to dismantling them. Masai Ujiri was set to make another bold move in that deconstruction with the New York Knicks. The team in the summer he was able to unload Andrea Bargnani on cutting that dead weight from his roster. Bargnani’s lack of success in New York was predictable, but what wasn't was how that would impact on this Raptors season being what it came to be.

The Knicks had a deal on the table to acquire Kyle Lowry who has been the heart and soul of this Raptors turnaround. Knicks ownership was scared of getting burned by Masai Ujiri for a third time. He had got the better of them in the deal for Carmelo Anthony back in Denver. He came to Toronto and gave them the Andrea Bargnani problem to deal with. The Knicks got scared and backed out of the deal that was on the table. Rumour has it that James Dolan himself was the one that said no to this.

Safe to say if that trade happens this magical season would have been over before it started. Ujiri after failing to get that deal done sat back and waited and watched to see what would become of this group. He had given the Raptors some much needed depth with the Gay trade. They added a full group of players that became the Raptors bench more or less. It would also propel Terrence Ross into the starting line-up ready or not. In addition established DeMar DeRozan as the true face of the franchise.

The success the Raptors enjoyed along with the Eastern Conference crumbling all around them saw them rise from the depths of tankers to the line to get in the VIP section of the Eastern Conference. As the season reached the trade deadline with DeMar DeRozan fresh off his first All-Star appearance and Kyle Lowry widely considered the most notable snub not to go to New Orleans things seemed very clear.

The Raptors would roll the dice and bet on Kyle Lowry and being able to keep him as a free agent. This is a gamble not unlike the one the Raptors took with Chris Bosh. That ended in disaster with Bosh being hurt in the first game after the All-Star Break and only returning to be injured again and the Raptors would miss the playoffs finishing ninth.

This story while incomplete has worked out far better in the short term as the Raptors will in fact make the playoffs. The future for Kyle Lowry is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about right now. Still the first part of the gamble has paid off no one can deny that.

If you are a believer in destiny or fate how the Raptors finally locked up their return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 seemed perfect as a movie script. The two soul survivors of the post Bosh era DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson hit the final two shots to secure the win and return to the playoffs for this franchise. Johnson has embraced this city in a way that few Raptors ever have. While on the floor he has been a warrior to the point of you question his judgment for his old age but not his heart. No one deserved a moment like this more. While DeRozan has constantly had to fight critics that always felt he was good enough to be a true superstar or an All-Star. Despite improving year after year the team around him was not following suit.

That was until this year when finally the Raptors found some chemistry and some fight. You can obviously find some flaws in this rise to where they have gotten too. The Eastern Conference may never have been worse than this year. It doesn’t take away from the pure joy of fans that have suffered along with Johnson and DeRozan wondering if they would ever see a day like Friday happen.

Fans and those guys deserved this moment and regardless of if the Raptors future takes a negative turn as it often has in history that is not the point at the moment. It’s about a story of two guys that survived though times and all the people that supported them and stayed in their corner.

Lots of fake Raptors fans will come out of the woodwork as they often do when a team has success. Those who are the true meaning of the term fan, those fanatics have earned the right to have a moment like this.  Not unlike DeRozan and Johnson have earned it through their work and dedication, not just this season, but in the seasons when this team stunk.

I personally have taken a lot of flack this year. I have to admit I am a bit angry about it. Just because I am not ready to have a parade about this season doesn’t mean I haven’t respected what has been done. I have and it also doesn’t mean I am not happy for the people that have stuck with this team.

I am sorry if I am the one that keeps my head when everyone around me seems to be caught up in the wave of excitement. I still don’t forget the reality of things. This at the end of the day was never the plan and was not suppose to happen. It was the Knicks accepting that trade and it never does. It has been in large part a run that has been driven by Kyle Lowry. He has played with motivation and heart that you have to respect. You also have to realize he has all the personal motivation in the world to do so. He could re-sign but he could walk away and than what did all of this mean in the end? Just another chapter of “what if” in Raptors history like what if Vince and Tracy had stayed together what might have been.  Even if he does stay can he honestly match this season he has put together? I don’t know the answer to that and at the end of the day no one does.

In 19 years this is only the sixth time the Raptors will play in the post season. They have only won one playoff series and it was so long ago it wasn’t even seven games. What I want for all of you, for myself and for this franchise is something that is lasting that can grow and build. The Raptors as crazy excited as you may well be and rightfully so are not a contender in to make the Eastern Conference Final or NBA Finals.

Granted they never were supposed to be. The key is can this lighting in a bottle actually be something that lasts. That is going to be largely riding on the future of Kyle Lowry. He has been the key piece to all of this and will be the key piece to if this is just another blip on the radar where the Raptors tease us all or if it is something more.

People that have supported this team through a ton of terrible and at times insulting seasons deserve a team that can be a consistent playoff participant and a true contender to win a championship. If you’re satisfied with anything less than that I can not get on board with that. I want more and a future that I can believe in. After all at the end of the day sports is all about one simple word at the end of the day.


If you have hope everything else comes from that. If you don’t you at the end of the day have nothing.


Raptors Not Exactly Peaking At Right Time

I first off apologize for not having written in the DNB for what seems like ages (10 days). I tried a couple times to write something and just never got to the finish line. How ironic is it that I find it hard to write about this team now as they are on the verge of a return to the playoffs. They just reached 40 wins for the first time since that guy left and took his talents to Miami. I see all the excitement in fans on Twitter and other forms of social media. I just am not in tune with everyone about all of this.

This team of late has played some of their most average basketball since the Gay trade that started all this turnaround. Perhaps the most note worthy piece coming back in that trade being out has been a part of that. Patrick Patterson according to the Raptors remains on schedule in his recover from his elbow injury. Whatever that means is a mystery to us as a clear timetable to a return has not been provided.

The Raptors miss Patterson but he alone can not be the cause of a fundamental breakdown in this teams rebounding. They have been pretty brutal most nights at that aspect and when you look at potential first round opponents for the Raptors that should legitimate scare you. It is a symptom of some larger issues with this team of late.

One thing that has been fairly consistent on the negative side of things with this team even when they have been winning is their lacklustre starts to games. It really has been disheartening to watch this team get off to horrible starts against teams that they are clearly better than. It makes a night that should be an easy night at the office turn into a long night at the office regardless of the outcome.

The Raptors also have fallen into the trap of playing to the level of their competition. How can a team that took OKC to overtime get completely pounded by the Cleveland Cavs? Well one of the reasons was the aforementioned lack of rebounding. However in general that was one of the Raptors worst road performances of the season. Toronto is only one of 4 teams in the East with a winning record on the road. Only Indiana, Miami and Washington join them above .500 in the East on the road.

The Nets who are in pursuit of the Raptors for the Division Title are just 14-22 on the road this season. They only have 5 of their remaining 12 games on the road though. This is in addition to only one of those being against a playoff team against Miami on April 8th. But shockingly enough the Nets have beat the Heat in all three previous match-ups. The Raptors will be seeing Miami coming up on their schedule shortly as well.

In looking at the Nets schedule it is fairly easy much like the Raptors down the stretch so the Raptors may need all of that two and half game lead they currently have in the Division. That lose to the Nets that would have secured the tiebreaker would be pretty nice to have right about now. Just 3 teams currently in the playoffs remain on the schedule for the Nets. This includes Miami as we mentioned a meeting with Houston next Tuesday and facing the Hawks two weeks from today.

Getting back to the point of the Raptors playing down to competition they better fix that issue as both they and the Nets have very easy paths to the end of the season in the last 5 games assuming this race is still alive for the Division. Toronto plays: Philadelphia, New York and Milwaukee at home and Detroit and New York on the road which that Knicks game is the final game of the season.  Brooklyn meanwhile will also finish the season on the road at Cleveland and have one other road game at Orlando in the final five. Sandwiched in between those games is three game home stand against Atlanta, Orlando and New York.

The last and only time Raptors won a Division Title it didn’t help them much come the post-season as they faced the New Jersey at the time Nets and Vince Carter. In the end winning just 3 of your last 7 games and you most impressive outing was in a loss is not a good look for the Raptors regardless of who lies ahead of them in the playoffs.

It also has become painfully clear that Kyle Lowry is what wills this team to be different from past versions of the Raptors. He is, as everyone not living under a rock knows is the one guy without a contract for next season that Raptors don’t control.  While all I hear is people telling me not to worry that things are different now seeing is believing to me. Even if the Raptors get Kyle Lowry’s name on a contract signed will we get this type of performance from him in the future? Raptors were convinced Jose Calderon once upon a time was worth 10 million a season and was the future for them at the point guard position. He had a spectacular run that ultimately ended with a disappointing playoff loss in 5 games to Orlando Magic. This Raptors team could be on a similar path to that one in terms of the playoffs. They could end up getting that match-up that everyone says is the best one for them against the Wizards and find a similar fate. Kyle Lowry against John Wall will make for a very interesting match-up one that Raptors fans would give the advantage to Kyle but Wall is a former top pick for the Wizards and like the Raptors has never got to taste what the Playoffs are all about.

In the end Raptors fans have been caught up in this magical and unexpected season while I personally have looked beyond it and see ghosts of Raptors past failures staring at me in the face. Should I just be naive and ignore all the signs I am seeing that this might not be the start to some great rebuilding project for the Raptors? I sometimes feel I should as it would save me a lot of headaches but I have always done one thing for six years of doing this and that has been trying to be honest as I can about my feelings and impressions of this team. While all of this gets classed as negative by people, I point out I have been one of the few that has always been a supporter of DeMar DeRozan. While some of you who will remain quiet now wanted DeRozan traded and to build this team around Rudy Gay. Yeah that would have gone well.

I never ask you to believe me or share in my opinions. If you want to be excited about this team’s turnaround go ahead and enjoy it. All I ask is that if it doesn’t turn out as the magic carpet ride to success you remember who the person was that was telling you that long before all the other people praising this team pull a 180 degree turn and act like they were. At the end of the day I don’t want to be right it would please me just as much as anyone to see this team finally having some sustained success.


Less Than A Month To Raptors Return To Post Season

The Raptors now have less than a month to go in the NBA Regular Season. They currently have a 3 game lead over Nets for the Division and just a game up on the Bulls as we enter play on Tuesday. In theory you would like to see Raptors win the Division Title and finish as high as possible. In reality that might not make much practical sense.

I think regardless of what happens the Raptors would like to face the Wizards if we are being honest. Regardless of if they win a Division Title or not this gives them the best opportunity to advance. Also if they currently hold their position in third likely means a second round match-up with Miami. The Raptors lack of success against the Heat is well documented since Chris Bosh and friends got together in Miami. The Raptors success against the Pacers can leave a little more optimism for an upset to steal a game vs. the Pacers.

After the game against the Suns that the Raptors lost on Sunday there was speculation on if Lowry perhaps got a concussion from getting kneed in the head. Maybe speculation is to strong perhaps the suggestion of it would be more accurate.  In any case a loss of Lowry for any amount of time would be a major blow to the Raptors efforts in this last month of the season. However fear not as Lowry claims he is 100% and ready to toll and even after the game claimed he was fine.

The Raptors have had a notable absence in their roster of late with Patrick Patterson being sidelined. The Raptors provided an update on his status this morning. His right ulnar collateral sprain (elbow) is healing as expected and he is expected return to limited basketball activity. He will be re-evaluated after a week and it is still not been made clear when he could be back in the line-up. The original estimate was 7-10 days but that already seems to be out the window.

The Raptors have missed Patterson to some degree as he spreads the floor much more than the Raptors options without him.

The Raptors are in Atlanta to take on the Hawks that have been dying a slow death since losing Al Horford to injury. Once upon a time prior to that injury the Hawks were the team in third in the East ahead of the Raptors. They now sit eighth trying to hold off the Knicks trying to salvage their season.

The Knicks are making big news today as Phil Jackson is being announced as their president. This obviously will be a great story of interest for the Raptors Division in future years not to mention the NBA as a whole. The Raptors are always going to have a challenge in the Atlantic Division battling with the two New York based franchises for years to come.

As for immediate future the Raptors last month of the season it is about positioning in terms of match-ups not what number seed they draw. The playoffs are just days away from becoming an official reality for the Raptors. It now is more about the path they will set for themselves in those playoffs. 


Raptors Playoff Push Doesn't Have Me Excited

I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why I am not excited about this Raptors run to returning to the post season. I do admit I enjoy the way the Raptors play a lot this season. The mix of defensive intensity and offensive firepower has been significant and enjoyable. Still I find myself being somewhat disinterested by it all.

I am sure the uncertain future of Kyle Lowry is a big part of this but I don’t think it is all of it. I guess I look at this and feel that we have seen this story before for the Raptors. Toronto has been having an unexpected and great season that happened in the midst of a down point for the Eastern Conference. I also am pretty confident in saying at best the Raptors get to a second round. There is no chance the Raptors beat Miami or Indiana in a 7 game series.

In fact when you look at the potential first round opponents it does not inspire a ton of confidence about the Raptors being successful. Match-ups with Chicago, Brooklyn and even Charlotte would concern me. The only match-up that gives me some confidence in the one with the Wizards. Even in that one I could see the Wizards winning.

I recall the last time the Raptors made the post season where Raptors fans drooled for a match-up with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. That didn’t work out so well for the Raptors as it turned out. The same could happen with Wizards just as easily in my view.

The game on Monday was very entertaining against Brooklyn but in the end the Raptors fell short in a game where they could have made a major statement and secured their playoff position somewhat. As good as the Raptors have been they have had a lot of games where they have played well and fought hard but come up short. The Nets have beat Miami 3 times in 3 tries this season. The Raptors have had some competitive games against Miami but in the end fell short.

At the end of the day I have seen the Raptors in the playoffs, I have seen them win a round once as well. What I haven’t seen is them enter a post-season as even a dark horse candidate to make the NBA Finals. The Raptors if they keep all of this together and continue to improve might have a chance to be that. History of the Raptors suggests it likely won’t last. Maybe this time is different and maybe I have just been beaten down to having little faith.

The one thing that does bring a smile to my face is having DeMar DeRozan develop into a legit All-Star Talent and heading to his first post-season. He has worked so hard for his own individual success as well as it being part of some team success.

I am also thrilled for Amir Johnson who has given back to Raptors fans perhaps more than any other Raptor in this team’s history. There is only one guy that I would even consider in comparison is Jerome Williams who reminds you a lot of Amir.  I had said to Amir after one of the many times he has talked with me for the DNB that I believed he would be remembered in that same light as the JYD for years after his days playing were behind him. He seemed genuinely touched by the suggestion of that.

Perhaps the greatest example of his giving nature is his Roll with Amir Event that is entering its fourth year. This year going all medieval as the event will be taking place at Medieval Times in Toronto. It is without a doubt the most unique and from the heart gesture I have seen by an athlete in any sport. This is a guy that legitimately loves his fans and takes the time to plan out cool events and contests to show them that he does. Often times by taking money from his back pocket to put these events on.

So for those guys I am extremely happy. As a Raptor fan of 19 years and someone that has covered this team for 6 of those years I am far less excited. I just feel like I have seen this all before and have a hard time seeing a different outcome for this group as compared to ones in the past. Some of the same issues still remain to be proven if things can really change.

Can The Raptors keep a guy like Lowry? More importantly can they actually build on the existing talent they already have. You have heard for many years a lot of people say that winning will cure all the issues the Raptors have had with attracting free agents and keeping their own talent. That theory is going to be put to the test once again. Which in the past the Raptors have won and still had these issues. If Vince Carter as one of the top 3 players in the NBA can’t attract people to come here honestly can anyone on this group stand a better chance? Chris Bosh certainly failed at it so much so that he decided to leave.

The Raptors while no one will debate have had a miraculous turnaround still have not taken those big steps to make it to the next level. Those should naturally come in the future after all this is just a season of success. The question is can they honestly maintain this level of success and that leaves me with a lot of doubt.

Masai Ujiri and Tim Leiweke are both very talented and intelligent people at what they do. I just believe the Raptors have had a lot of talented people prior that couldn’t find the answer to basically the same puzzle that lies ahead for them. I hope for Raptors fans they have the answers but I am not as blindly faithful in it happening just based on the history of what we have seen.

If all you require is the Raptors to be competitive and fun to watch they have already achieved that goal. If you desire something more than that, I am not sure anything is different from past versions of success we have seen in Raptors history. Time will tell but for whatever reason my passion or more to the point my belief is not very strong that anything will change.  


Raptors Play The Most Important Game In At Least 5 Years On Monday

The Toronto Raptors have come into March like lions and are officially already better than last season with still 20+ games left to go in the season. The Raptors get a win in Minnesota and now head home for perhaps on of the most important game remaining on their schedule against the Brooklyn Nets.

Brooklyn has finally battled back above the .500 mark but still sit 4 games behind the Raptors who are 9 games above .500 for the first time since 2007. If the Raptors win they would be up 5 games with 20 games to go. Basically in effect wrapping up the division based on the Raptors remaining schedule.

Kyle Lowry continues to tear is up coming in off 18 points 12 rebound and 11 assists for a triple double as part of the 111-104 win Sunday night in Minnesota. He and DeRozan have been playing like All-Stars since the break and providing the leadership that has led to this turnaround.

Despite the Nets turnaround the Raptors have still been better 8-2 in their last 10 compared to the Nets 7-3. Raptors lead the season series 2-1 and with a win would hold any tiebreaker between the two. There is really no way to express how important this game is for the Raptors final month and a bit of the season. If they win they can likely focus on the playoffs and perhaps rest some people down the stretch and focus on positioning. If they lose the division is now no longer a lock for the Raptors.

The Raptors of late have had some playoff style battles with the Wizards and Bulls to prepare for a big night like this. One bit of bad news prior to the game in Minnesota that Patrick Patterson will be out at least 7-10 days as he re-aggravated an elbow injury that will require surgery after the season. Patterson was playing through the injury though. No work on if this recurrence of the injury has changed anything in terms of making the injury worse. It already was going to require surgery as previously stated.

Tyler Hansbrough and Chuck Hayes may be called in to fill in gap going forward. They obviously do not offer the offensive skills of a Patterson though. This does come at a time where Amir Johnson seems to have caught a second wind and is playing some of the best basketball he has in quite some time.

Raptors will need all hands on deck in Brooklyn to get a really important win that could make their path to the playoffs a much easier one. The fact they will make the playoffs is really no longer a question at this point.

What this season will mean will remain uncertain until after it is over in July. Most fans don’t seem to be concerned with that and are just enjoying what has been an unexpected rise of the Raptors that no one saw coming. Which given all that folks have had to endure in the last 5 years or so is very understandable.

It has been a long time since we could talk about important games in March and April but we have arrived at that point. Not many will be bigger than tomorrow night until we get to the playoffs themselves.


Rudy Sucks....Even He Says He Did

Raptors announced they are bringing back the purple and the team that currently wear purple in the NBA roll into town. Rudy Gay basically admitted to the fact he sucked with the Raptors. Well he said he wasn’t efficient so that is as close as you’ll get. It is a well rested Raptors team that played their only game in March last Sunday with a surprising win over Golden State.

The Raptors have had very few bad losses since the Gay trade but one of them was against these Kings in Sacramento. It wasn’t exactly because of Gay it was more because of DeMarcus Cousins who has been historically great against the Raptors.

This will be the first time Gay has been back to Toronto and I would suspect he gets the traditional welcome for guys that had bad endings with the Raptors. Not expecting a Vince Carter like response more like a mild Chris Bosh response.

Will see if Terrence Ross is back for this one if he isn’t the Raptors might have a bit harder of a time dealing with Gay. They also miss Ross’ scorning at times especially from beyond the three point line. The Raptors will have a lot of these games where they will be the clear favourite down the stretch and they need to take advantage and get their playoff business taking care of sooner rather than later. If the Raptors can rest some of their key pieces over the final few games that would be helpful.

The obvious being an Amir Johnson getting some rest but also a DeRozan and Lowry would likely benefit from a little break to take a breath before the playoffs.

While the Raptors have been on a break they have moved percentage points ahead of the Bulls despite having one fewer win and into third once again in the East. Meanwhile during this break in on court action there has been a lot of talk that Masai Ujiri has been having conversations with Kyle Lowry’s agent to look toward what it is going to take to keep him a Raptor in the off-season.

All this going back to the playoffs is great and bring back the old purple uniforms with the red dinosaur too, but without Kyle Lowry next season all this hope could be gone as fast as it came. If the Raptors want to be a good team during their 20 season celebration they are going to need Kyle Lowry to be here for that.

You kind of have an idea of what the Raptors future is as far as this season goes. They are at best going to make it to the second round and lose to either the Heat or Pacers probably in short order. How this Lowry situation plays itself out remains more of a mystery. The fact Masai is having talks and conversations can only be viewed as positive even if they might not lead to anything in the here and now. At worst Kyle Lowry should be fully aware of the Raptors strong desire to keep him. That he has a very key role on this team as part of this group that will not easily be replaced.

If it comes down to dollars the Raptors have the money to keep him that is not in question. How much Lowry thinks he is worth and what both the market and the Raptors think he is.

While most Raptors fans focus is on seeing late April basketball for the first time in a long time. My focus is on July and what becomes the future of this group that has a number of moving parts to it. Not just Lowry but decisions on potential restricted free agents like Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez also need to be made. It will be a busy off-season for Masai Ujiri trying to figure out the next step for this group filled with a lot of potential moving forward.


DeRozan Enters March Like A Lion

DeMar DeRozan had a February that put him in the company of the NBA Elite. He started his March in much the same fashion with 32 points helping the Raptors to an unexpected win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.

DeRozan has quickly proven himself worthy of the contract he was given by Bryan Colangelo which at the time was highly criticized. I was one of the very few that said DeRozan would play his way into being worth the money he was being given. I have to admit even I am surprised at how quickly he has accomplished that goal. Not unlike his long time fellow Raptor Amir Johnson went through the same thing a few years back. Both guys have gone on to make their contracts look like bargains in comparison to the NBA landscape.

The Raptors are just one win from matching their win total of last season with 23 games to play in the season. They are a full 4 games ahead of the Nets for the lead in Atlantic Division and tied with the Bulls for third in the Conference. It has been an amazing turnaround this season and combination of Kyle Lowry and DeRozan has been at the core of that change.

About the only thing the duo has not been able to figure out is how to get a big shot to win a game at the end of it. However, if you play well enough it never gets to that you don’t have to worry about it. That is what happened at the end of the game with the Warriors that had been close all afternoon long but at the end the Raptors made a final push to get in front to stay.

The fact that all of this is being accomplished by DeRozan with still seeing areas he can improve in has to be the most exciting thing. While the most concerning thing is if the Raptors can keep this Dynamic Duo of Lowry and DeRozan together. It is clear the two like each other and Kyle Lowry has been photo bombing and always seems to be fooling around with DeRozan at the end of the day money often trumps friendship in the NBA.

If Lowry is willing to take the money he has earned with a fantastic season in his contract year will his level of play be maintained? DeRozan has clearly shown that the numbers on his pay check have not impacted on his effort and improvement. If anything they have only proven too solidify them. Lowry is a much different case as his play and more importantly how he entered into this season in tip top shape suggest he was well aware of what was on the line for him this year.

In a perfect world the Raptors will be able to resign Lowry and his play will maintain at this high level with DeRozan by his side. No one is ever going to compare the duo to what a Carter and McGrady could have potentially done together in Toronto. A Carter and McGrady combination that Kobe Bryant went on the record to say he would have expected to battle for championships for years to come. Bryant also has been an endorser of the talents of DeRozan in the past and praised his work and dedication on improving.

The Raptors success is beyond just those two players but they own the biggest piece of it. DeRozan himself talks about how key Kyle has been to his own rise and success this season. The Raptors are on a roll like we have rarely seen from them in the team’s less than impressive history. The question now becomes is this just a moment in time or something they can maintain going forward.

Things are only going to get tougher as the seasons go along as the Eastern Conference should start to gain some balance and have more teams actually trying to win and compete. Clearly some teams at the bottom of the Conference have been targeting the draft and looking to hit is big in the lottery. Bryan Colangelo’s comments of a few days ago just confirm what we already know about the tanking problem in the NBA.

With all of this being said, for a kid from Compton, California this has been his coming out party this season that everyone is taking notice of.  He grew up watching a Kobe Bryant dominate the NBA and now he is showing some flashes of his own brand of dominance. I have always seen an inner fire in DeMar DeRozan what has been happening this year is he is channelling that into being a basketball killer on that floor. Something that the guy he grew up watching has become the best in game at and one of the best all-time.

In a world that is often pretty cynical so much so that believing something like good things happen to good people seems naive. DeRozan is that good person that has worked hard and has found his way to the top bringing his team and Raptors fans along for the ride.      


Bryan Colangelo Was Part Of Tank Nation....Who Knew?

This season started with a debate on if the Raptors should tank or not heading into a season with the top prize being Canadian Andrew Wiggins. Who knew that keeping Bryan Colangelo as G.M likely gave the Raptors a better chance at accomplishing that goal?

It would seem that Colangelo would have been open to the idea of it as he has admitted to attempting to tank in the lockout shortened season of 2011-12. He made this statement at Analytics conference in Boston and was feature in an article by SI writer Matt Dollinger.

This really isn’t a surprise as Colangelo once joked on a Raptors broadcast about his choice for Coach Dwane Casey winning too much in his first season on the job. It looks like it wasn’t a joke at all as Colangelo wanted to tank and have a shot at one of the top picks in the draft. As things worked out the Raptors ended up drafting Terrence Ross but would have been happier with Harrison Barnes or the Rookie of the Year from that season’s draft class Damien Lillard.

Colangelo also referenced a game which I wrote was one of the biggest disgraces in NBA history between the Nets and Raptors to close that season. I was there covering that game and I was sad for anyone that spend a dollar to have to watch that contest. The Nets did all they could to not win that game including starting 3 players that began the season in the NBDL.

This all leads you to the simple conclusion that can the NBA honestly keep burying it’s heads in the sand to tanking without altering the lottery system to try to combat it?  This season has been a season filled of teams trying to tank. It kind of pours some cold water on what the Raptors have accomplished when you realize that likely 6-10 teams in this league have the goal of losing as much as possible. Many of those reside in the Eastern Conference.

For all of those that defended the concept of not tanking they clearly have some explaining to do. Tanking was happening right under their noses if we are to take Colangelo at his word. Which why would we not seeing as he really has no reason to lie about his past with the Raptors to any degree.

The fans that support Tank Nation had a supporter at the highest levels of MLSE in Colangelo. This makes you believe that MLSE ownership had to be in on it too. This calls to question how you can justify fans spending money on a product who at the end of the day was attempting to be a losing one.

It will be interesting to see if we get any response from MLSE, Casey or any of the Raptors in general on this topic. Even Ross who clearly was not the first choice of the Raptors as it has become painfully clear and obvious based on Colangelo’s comments.