Has anyone every thought about why the Toronto Raptors franchise has never been a championship threat since the ‘glory days’ of Vince Carter, T-Mac and co.? Poor management, and poor roster moves along with mediocre coaches played a role in that for sure, but it’s time to get down to the root of the problem: the accelerated rebuild.
Accelerated rebuild a term that Raptors fans have heard far too many times from Bryan Colangelo in the past few years. In case you haven’t figured it out, he’s referring to how he made a brilliant move that moved forward the process of the Raptors rebuilding their team, and always preaches how move will make them a more competitive team. Acquiring Kyle Lowry is a prime example of this, along with moves such as acquiring Jermaine O’Neal, Hedo Turkoglu, etc. Adding pieces to the puzzle that will make the team better for the immediate future is essentially what accelerating the rebuild means, and it’s something the Raptors franchise has continuously turned to when the team fails to meet expectations.
What’s the purpose of trading away Roy Hibbert who could have blossomed into a star center (go figure) for a washed up Jermaine O’Neal? It was poor foresight, and evidently Colangelo didn’t do his homework well enough. Yes, I realize if the Raps kept the pick they may have not drafted Hibbert, but he was the consensus pick there so it was very likely he ends up in a Raps uniform. Look at last year’s draft, where BC took Terrence Ross over Andre Drummond. Ross was supposed to be the more NBA ready player, therefore the intent was to accelerate the rebuild.
Do you see where I’m going with this? The philosophy of Colangelo has been wrong. Rather than building a young core and allowing them to grow together, he brings in new pieces that lead the Raptors to a mid-level seed, barely missing the playoffs (or make it with a first round exit), and get a high pick that rarely produces an impact player. The whole point here is that the accelerated rebuild has put the Raptors into a vicious cycle that hasn’t allowed them to compete for a championship, but rather flirt with a playoff appearance at a low seed. What you are supposed to do, is complete the accelerated rebuild by signing a star(s), or you build your core through the draft. The Raptors are kind of in-between.
This whole process starts with the MLSE, and goes all the way to the fans. Everybody knows that the Raps are a business- the MLSE is in it to make a profit. Winning teams make profits, and it’s evident that in a market dominated by the Leafs, the Raps will have to put out a solid product for fans to come out. MLSE doesn’t want a losing team, but a mid-level team will do just fine. Fans, (especially Toronto fans) want to see an exciting team every year, putting pressure on Colangelo to form a decent roster that can compete for opening night every year. It’s the Toronto market that seems to be the biggest reason for the mediocrity this franchise has settled for during the Colangelo-era, and it’s time for that whole philosophy to change.
Enter Tim Leweike, a top notch sports executive that has made it clear that mediocrity isn’t something to settle for anymore. He has made it clear that he has bigger goals: championships. He has experience with winning championships, and realizes the profit potential a contending Raps team could bring with the Raptors being the lone Canadian NBA team, whereas the Leafs have competition in Canada’s market.
The whole philosophy of MLSE seems to have shifted with Leweike running things, and this is why I think the Bryan Colangelo era is about to come to a close. Though when you look at it, it really isn’t Colangelo’s fault. Well, I guess it kind of is. Blame MLSE, blame Colangelo, blame whoever you want for the failure, but the bottom line is that the demand to win in Toronto is the biggest downfall this franchise has faced.
Why don’t we end on an optimistic note – I actually like the core of this team moving forward. Colangelo has somehow accelerated the rebuild with relatively young pieces that have a chance to grow together, so we should actually see some improvement as the team grows. However, this team is not a championship contender, and if the Raps want to finish the accelerated rebuild, it’s time to get another piece (see Josh Smith), but that’s a story for another day.