The Toronto Raptors are off to a horrendous start, so should they stay the course or tank for 2021-22?
I know it sounds crazy to put the words Toronto Raptors and tank in the same sentence, but that may be the best plan of attack for them.
Heading into the season, the Raptors seemed destined for a mid-tier playoff spot. However, after starting 1-6 with a few tough games ahead of them, missing the playoffs is a real possibility.
Obviously the season isn’t over and a lot can happen in the next 60-plus games. They can go on a run and make the playoffs, but when you dig yourself a hole like this to start the season, it’s not going to be easy. Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry are three pieces who played important roles on an NBA Championship team before and they know what it takes to win. Nick Nurse is also the reigning NBA Coach of the Year, so he’s not going down without a fight.
But, at what point do you say “Uncle”?
The 2020-21 NBA campaign is the most unique season that the Toronto Raptors (sorry, Tampa Bay Raptors) have ever competed in. Sure, the 2019-20 NBA season stopped short due to a pandemic and every team had to regroup in a bubble to finish the playoffs, but there was no competitive advantage in that space.
Each team played and practiced in the same facilities, had the same set of rules and knew they were committing to a two-month bubble in order to compete for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
This season is completely different. Based on the travel restrictions, the Raptors were the only team in the NBA that had to relocate to play their games. Instead of playing at Scotiabank Arena every night, the team was forced to move to Tampa Bay, while the rest of the league gets to sleep in their own bed, practice in the same facilities and most importantly, stay close to their friends and family in the city they live in.
The Raptors may have their family with them, but they’re in a brand new city with no attachment to the jersey they represent. Toronto was a special place to play because the fans are the best in the NBA and the atmosphere outside of the building is even better. Now that they’re stuck in Tampa Bay, they’re not playing for anyone and I can see how that could effect the team.
I want to see this team fight every night and try to get into a playoff spot, but at the same time, why? Do we really want this team to win an NBA Championship in a different country? If there was one season to tank and regroup it would be this year.
This team is already committed to a Pascal Siakam/Fred VanVleet duo for the next few years. Give them the keys to the car now and see what they can do. The Raptors also have assets in Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell that they can trade for draft picks, so they may as well start the rebuild now.
The prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft Class are supposedly much more superior than the 2020 class, so use this terrible start as an opportunity to hit the restart button.
The Toronto Raptors haven’t missed the playoffs since 2013, so it’s been a solid seven-year run of success. In a blink of an eye, Toronto has been one of the most successful franchises of the past decade. The hardest part about a rebuild is accepting it and not being too late to starting it.
The team should use this abysmal start to their advantage so that they can get back on track as early as 2022. By moving Lowry and Powell, the team will have enough salary cap space to recruit a free agent, plus by tanking, they’ll have a high draft pick, who should be able to make an impact in the NBA right away.
You never want to see your favorite team fail, but one step back, could lead to two steps forward pretty quickly. Your move, Toronto.