The NBA Playoffs are in full swing with just four teams left, but for the first time in eight years, the Toronto Raptors will not figure into the equation as to who is the best team in the Eastern Conference or the NBA.
On the surface, it appears to be a lost season and a precursor to the Raptors’ return to mediocre play pre-2014. Many negatives come to mid surrounding this season that saw the Raptors win just 27 games in a shortened season of 72 contests.
They were unduly affected by the pandemic being Canada’s only franchise and a closed border. They had to operate from foreign and hostile territory in Tampa. Hostile crowds in Toronto’s temporary home weren’t the only COVID-19 related obstacle to playing winning basketball as a late February outbreak of the virus.
This cost the team manpower and games, helping to result in a one-win month of March. Throw in poor roster building in a watered-down frontcourt, and it’s not hard to explain the Raptors’ disappointing 2021.
But rather than focus on the negative, here’s a few positives to take away from this year.
3 positives the Toronto Raptors have after a rough season.
1. The Raptors will pick fourth in the 2021 NBA Draft
The last time this franchise had an opportunity to select a top-five prospect in the NBA Draft was Jonas Valanciunas in 2011. By the luck of the draw, the Raptors moved up three spots in the NBA Lottery from what could have been the seventh overall selection or worse.
It is ultimately an opportunity to add a young impactful talent that could aid their return to the NBA Playoffs right away in 2022. If possible, and they are unable to move up in the draft further, selecting Evan Mobley would be ideal as a center should he be available to select. The center position is the most obvious flaw on the roster.
The Toronto Raptors could draft a potential franchise cornerstone this year.
This will be the third time Toronto has selected fourth at the NBA Draft from a historical standpoint. In 1998 they selected Antawn Jamison before swapping him for Golden State’s selection at five, Vince Carter. The second time was in 2003 when the Raptors selected Chris Bosh, who was recently selected to enter the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Even if he is an unlikely candidate to end up being available here, Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green could instantly become franchise players for this team. After months of unlucky break after unlucky break, Toronto finally managed to get some good fortune.