Building a winning franchise with the Toronto Raptors


The Toronto Raptors organization has been through a lot of dark, dark years. What’s encouraging is the progress they have made from being the laughing stock of the NBA to a recent revival of the franchise’s image. In the process, they have excited the pained and suffering fan base while sparking an entire nation with the “We The North” slogan.

Since the inaugural season, there has never been a stable situation as the Raptors are enjoying now. The Vince Carter years stamped the franchise into longevity by capturing the imaginations of initial fans but you could hardly call it stable. They have endured seven different general managers (including interim positions) over a 20 year span. So if you think four years for a USA presidential term is too short to make a big enough difference, you can see the problem.

More from Raptors Rapture

The San Antonio Spurs are a model organization for all of professional sports. Consistently winning teams, incredibly reliable management and continuity in their approach. They scout, draft and make incredible decisions with the best of them. The Raptors are part of a conglomerate while the Spurs are a family run business. Their decisions reflect that.

Since hiring Tim Leiweke in 2013, the Raptors have improved their business model by employing reliable management figures (such as Masai Ujiri) and instilling a culture that goes beyond the basketball court. The team will go out of their way to gift TIFF tickets to Patrick Patterson or help with charity drives for Kyle Lowry. Oh yes, it is a good time to be Raptor.

These types of things are just icing on the cake – the real reason times are swell is because of winning. Plain and simple. You can’t have a successful sports franchise without wins. Luckily, the Raptors have no problem these days taking care of the lowly Eastern Conference, albeit only to fail in the playoffs.

The wins have made a difference. The draft has not yet yielded a true superstar for this team, but free agency has been much improved. Being able to re-sign Kyle Lowry and grabbing new faces such as Cory Joseph and DeMarre Carroll has been very special. The franchise is lucky that this boom in wins has corresponded with the rise in cap dollars, as there hasn’t been an issue acquiring difference making players.

Oct 28, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll (5) drives to the basket as Indiana Pacers center Jordan Hill (27) tries to defend during the first quarter in a game at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

This Raptors team will not win a championship this year. That is not the goal of the organization. The goal is to create a strong and consistent model franchise where they will always be in position to sign top free agents, always compete in the playoffs, and always remain flexible. And that is enough.

The Toronto Raptors have only had one and a half years of consecutive winning under this regime. But this time the organization is in good hands by finding the right guys for the job. The culture is in place and the brain trust is to be trusted. Finally.

Next: Luis Scola finding his role with the Raptors

More from Raptors Rapture