The Toronto Raptors have been one of the most unsuccessful organizations in their first 20 years in the NBA.
Founded in 1995, the team has managed to win just one Division title in 2007 as well as just one Playoffs series over the New York Knicks back in 2001.
2019 - The Chase for Glory
The Raptors have faced several obstacles along the course of their NBA history, but in 2018, they saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Acquiring Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs felt like the robbery of the century for the Canadian organization.
They went on to have a fantastic Regular Season topping the Atlantic Division with a 58-24 record. Just when everyone started doubting their chances of winning a ring, Kawhi Leonard went off for one of the best individual performances in playoff history.
The versatile small forward led his team past the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Milwaukee Bucks to give them a shot at the title against the Golden State Warriors. He eventually denied the Warriors of a three-peat, snatching the MVP award during the Finals and bringing the trophy for the first time in Toronto.
2020 & 2021 - A Pandemic Chaos in Disguise
Unfortunately for the team, they put on the reverse right after reaching the highest point in their franchise history. Kawhi Leonard parted ways with the Raptors as his career took a sharp turn to the LA Clippers.
Despite these uncertainties, the Raptors managed to snatch second place in the Eastern Conference with a 53-19 record. However, after a 4-0 win over the Brooklyn Nets, they were eliminated in the Second Round by the Boston Celtics in a 7-game series.
The ongoing pandemic severely hurt the defending champions who were not able to quickly adapt to the circumstances. This would eventually decide their fate for the upcoming year as the 2019 NBA champions dropped all the way down to the last spot in the Atlantic Division winning just 27 matches during the season.
2022 - Pascal Siakam’s One-Man Show
In 2022, Pascal Siakam took matters into his own hands as the Cameroonian center helped his team get back some of the lost ground. The Raptors ended up 5th in the Eastern Conference, but the 76ers were too strong for them in the First Round of the Playoffs. Siakam broke several personal records averaging 22.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 5.3 assists for nearly 38 minutes on the court.
Despite his efforts, however, the team lacked the consistency that could have given them the much-needed extra push into the Playoffs. Overall, the Raptors can be delighted with their performance during the 2021/22 season as they managed to escape the void from the previous year.
2023 - Strong Years Ahead and a Promising Future
This year, the Raptors seem to be slightly underestimated by the online bookmakers. According to the NBA Vegas Odds, the team is still quite unlikely to make the Playoffs, let alone win the Championship.
The situation within the Toronto Raptors is quite delicate as they have put a lot of effort into rebuilding their team. The Canadian squad can rely on the 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes. The explosive power forward has become the first Raptor to win the Award since Vince Carter in 1999.
On top of that, Pascal Siakam is still under 30 years of age which makes him a highly valuable asset for Nick Nurse. The Cameroonian has grown intellectually throughout the past couple of seasons as he was forced to go through several ups and downs with the Canadian squad.
They acquired two new players during the offseason as they signed a two-way contract with Ron Harper Jr. and selected Christian Koloko with the 33rd pick in the draft. Harper Jr. was one of the most improved shooting guards in the NCAA as he led his Rutgers past Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Illinois during the Regular Season.
On the other hand, Koloko is considered to be one of their biggest assets defensively. The 7 feet and 1-inch Cameroonian defended the Arizona Wildcats’ rim last year as he helped them get to a 33-4 record. He averaged 12.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game and kept a high 63.5 FG% during the course of the season.
The Raptors can also rely on Fred VanVleet has topped his career-highs last year. He finished off the season with 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game across 65 appearances.
On top of that, Gary Trent Jr. and OG Anunoby are also ready to shine bright at Scotiabank Arena. The offensive duo has helped the Raptors overcome numerous challenges last season and they are certainly ready to dig deep during the upcoming campaign.
All in all, the team from Toronto is now looking to make their way back to the top of the NBA. With their all-around mixture of youth and experience, they might have figured out the perfect recipe to repeat the unforgettable success of the 2018/19 season.