Just three years after the Toronto Raptors’ famous championship-or-bust season, the organization is now taking a more long-game approach to the 2021-22 season.
In an interview with Jayme Poisson on the CBC’s Front Burner, Raptors President and Vice-Chairman Masai Ujiri laid out Toronto’s plan for this season in the clearest terms possible.
“We’re not a team of ‘now’,” Ujiri said on the podcast. “There are going to be growing pains.”
The Raptors are about to embark on a journey back to the pinnacle of the NBA. Unlike last time, however, prior to Ujiri’s arrival in Toronto, the organization already has the building blocks in place for a sturdy foundation. The roster is flexible, something Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster value, with a variety of young, versatile, and intriguing players.
Last year was the season of bottoming out when Toronto somewhat accidentally slipped into the bottom tier of the league and then won a top-four pick in the draft. Now, as Ujiri and Webster have said repeatedly, this season is about building back up around a new nucleus of players with Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby leading the way.
It’s not going to be easy and there will certainly be plenty to complain about next season, but that’s part of development. Rarely does development go smoothly. Instead, as Ujiri said, there will be bumps along the way. But ideally, Toronto has already kickstarted its rebuild and should be right back in Eastern Conference Finals contention in just a few seasons.