Toronto Raptors: Top six moments from the successful 2010s

Championship Banner - Toronto Raptors(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Championship Banner - Toronto Raptors(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Masai Ujiri (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2) Masai Ujiri replaces Bryan Colangelo

If the Toronto Raptors are 2019’s team of the year, this decade belongs to Masai Ujiri.

A shrewd operator from the beginning, we’ve already highlighted the many aspects of his genius during his tenure. After years of instability and mind-boggling gaffs (who can forget Rafael Araujo), Ujiri came in and immediately turned things around. From his trades to his personnel shakeups, his fingerprints are all over this team’s DNA.

In spite of all of that, his most valuable contribution might be his eye for talent— scouting, signing and developing unheralded talent through the Raptors 905.

MLSE’s purchase of the Mississauga Power, one of nine National Basketball League teams in Canada, in 2015 was a major coup. Players could play in 905 games, then soak up experience playing with the big club by attending practices, walk-throughs and shootarounds with the occasional game action. That on its own wouldn’t be enough. You can have a home-grown system in place but it will be meaningless without the right pieces.

Not a problem for Mr. Ujiri.

Fred VanVleet. Norman Powell. Delon Wright. Terence Davis. Pascal Siakam. OG Anunoby.

Most of these aren’t first-round picks. These are players that somehow slipped under the radar, only to be scooped up by Ujiri. The end result? Valuable contributors such as VanVleet and Siakam who keyed Raptors’ run to the NBA Finals.

The Toronto Raptors would not be here without the steady hand of Ujiri. He created an internal culture of growth, grind, and accountability that’s seeped into every fiber of this organization. Outside of a little luck, it is one of the main reasons why the franchise hoisted its first championship in 2019.