The Toronto Raptors are all but eliminated from the postseason picture after a loss against the Washington Wizards, as Murphy’s Law has proven the devastation it can impose on an NBA team in any given season. The Raptors went from one of the most consistent winners in the league to a team that kept stepping on a rake and whacking themselves in the face.
The Raptors went from a team that was the No. 2 seed in the conference to the No. 11 team in the Eastern Conference. Kyle Lowry’s likely farewell season has been muddled by injuries, ceaseless trade rumors, and the COVID-19 pandemic relocating the franchise to Tampa for the entire year.
What has made the Raptors’ season even more frustrating than your typical disappointing campaign is the fact that there has been a clear lack of direction. This team didn’t want to tank early on considering how they kept looking to make additions, but they didn’t fully embrace it when they slipped out of focus.
The Raptors have strangely lacked direction, missing chances to commit to either tanking or going for the postseason. Refusing to go all-in as a contender or tanker has the Raptors stuck in the middle between the clowns to the left of them and the jokers to the right, which could have ripple effects down the line.
The Toronto Raptors lacked direction this season.
This beat-up team started off the season at 2-8, a sign to many teams that it was time to pack it in and build for the future. All of a sudden, they started reeling off some wins, reaching fourth place in the Eastern Conference at one point. Great! That means Masai Ujiri will be aggressive before the deadline and look to make some trades, right?
Wrong! Ujiri and Nick Nurse didn’t make any huge additions when the Raptors were sitting near the top, and then their bad luck with regards to COVID-19 ravaged their depth. Even with the lack of star power during that period, winning just one game in the month of March is hard to stomach for anyone.
Toronto will likely end up with a Top 10 pick, but they won’t be able to catch teams like the Houston Rockets or Orlando Magic, playoff teams who embraced the tank and earned themselves a shot at Cade Cunningham. Toronto might get players like Franz Wagner and Scottie Barnes in the draft, but their chances of winning the lottery are small.
If the Toronto Raptors wanted to win, why were they not more proactive in adding pieces in the middle of the season. If they wanted to tank, why wasn’t Lowry traded? The Raptors will end up with a moderately quality lottery pick, but they could’ve improved their odds if they committed to tanking earlier.