The Raptors are all but ignored by most members of the U.S. media. Here's some help for Raptors fans who want to impart some simple lessons about how strong our squad is.
One of my pet peeves is the vacuum of attention shown by most NBA fans towards the Toronto Raptors. I don't remember Jack Armstrong's precise words about ESPN's basketball coverage, but he suggested something like "it's the house organ of the Cleveland Cavaliers". Jack is well aware the Raptors are grossly overlooked.
In an attempt to counter this unfortunate situation, I'm going to equip you with forceful points to make about the Raptors and their chances for ultimate success this season. Let's set the stage:
[Loud American, perhaps tipsy on Canadian barley sandwiches (our beer is higher in alcohol than U.S. offerings), in a downtown Toronto watering hole]: The Raptors don't have any stars. Nobody wins the NBA Championship without big name players.
[Member of Rapture Nation]: "I've got a couple of counter-arguments for you. The 2003-04 Detroit Pistons won the trophy in 5 games over the Shaq- & Kobe-led Lakers. Name me one Piston from that team....[waits patiently - many of us Rapture Nation-ers are polite Canadians after all]...Time's up. Chauncey Billups was the finals MVP, or you could have named either of the Wallaces, Ben and Rasheed. But you didn't, which makes my point. Yes, superstars are nice, but not essential.
And here's the up to the moment point - the Raptors aren't built to create stars. Only two starters, Lowry and DeRozan, average more than 32 minutes per game. Toronto has 11 players averaging more than 10 minutes. The team doesn't need stars - it is the star."
Raptors - sustainable success
LA: "Toronto has just been lucky so far. They recently caught Boston in an off-game. Now that Cleveland has re-tooled via trade, the Cavaliers are the team to beat."
MRN: Really? You want to make that claim after a few games? Let's give the new-look Cavs at least ten games before you draw such broad conclusions. Cleveland is six games behind Toronto in the loss column. If form holds, the Cavs are going to have a tougher path to the Eastern Conference finals than the Raps.
You can't just wish for team chemistry and then find it under your dinner plate tomorrow. The Cavs are attempting to rebuild on the fly. That's a tall order.
Meanwhile the Celtics are having huge problems maintaining any consistent offensive pop. They have overachieved since losing Gordon Hayward, and were due to slip."
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LA: The Raptors are wired to fail in the playoffs. Their key guys always come up small.
MRN: Yes, but that's the hidden value of Toronto's astonishing depth. DeMar DeRozan has shown he's both happy and skilled at handing out assists. He's also hitting open 3-balls. If opposition defenses glom onto him and Kyle Lowry, both can pass the ball to capable scorers like Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas. If those guys aren't connecting, the bench bunch will provide some excellent relief.
Everyone on the team has playoff experience. There won't be any Nervous Nellies out there.
LA: You're right. The Raptors are serious Eastern Conference contenders. [20-second timeout: As if!]
There you go, Rapture Nation. Go boldly and fearlessly into your debates, and talk up our squad.