The Toronto Raptors are on the verge of losing one of the best fanbases in the NBA if they don’t make a big splash soon and trade for a superstar.
James Harden is one of the most talented players in the NBA and the Toronto Raptors should have done anything in their power to acquire him.
Regardless of the drama he caused in Houston, the acquisition of Harden would have been bigger than wins on the court. It’s all about staying relevant in the NBA. The Toronto Raptors were building a great brand on the backs of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, but it all came to fruition when the team moved on from DeRozan and acquired Kawhi Leonard.
Despite making the playoffs every year and reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, the team wasn’t taken seriously by the NBA until Leonard showed up. Thanks to the Claw, the Toronto Raptors won an NBA Championship, were talked about on TNT every night, and finally played a prestigious Christmas Day game at home.
One true superstar can make an unknown team into one of the most prestigious overnight. When the Raptors don’t have a number-one player, they’re irrelevant. Just look at the franchise’s attendance numbers with and without a superstar.
When Vince Carter was at the peak of his powers in the 2001-02 season, the team averaged 19,784, which is a sold-out building. The same thing happened when Chris Bosh was leading the team in 2007-08, as the team was averaging 19,435 fans.
However, once that superstar leaves and the team starts losing, the fanbase goes away. After Carter was traded, the attendance dropped to 17,056, and then right after Bosh departed, the attendance fell to 16,566 per night.
I know that nobody can attend games right now, but before the pandemic hit, the Raptors were averaging a sold-out building every night of 19,795 fans. Every game at Scotiabank Arena, whether it was a Tuesday night against Indiana or an NBA Finals match-up against Golden State, was buzzing.
If you haven’t been apart of the Raptors ride since 1995, you may not understand what it’s like to see Scotiabank Arena somewhat empty. This team has gone from hot to not before and it can easily happen again. Toronto needs to learn from its past and make sure they continue to have a main attraction to build around to keep this team relevant in the market place.
Raptors Need to Trade for a Superstar
The Raptors have an abysmal 2-8 record to start the season. However, only two of those losses have been double-digit affairs. Toronto had a chance at winning their last two games against Golden State and Portland, but unfortunately, they missed the game-winning shot in both contests.
All I’m saying is that this team is a few breaks away from being 7-3 and they have the infrastructure to turn it around. The core of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, and OG Anunoby should be a playoff team, but as shown in their last two games, they don’t have a player who can close down the stretch.
Siakam has taken the team’s last two-game winning shot attempts and has failed. This team needs a closer and a top-10 player they can turn to. Since they missed out on James Harden, maybe it’s someone like Bradley Beal who they look to acquire, instead.
Not only would Beal help the Raptors close games, but he would make the team relevant again. I love VanVleet and Siakam, but they’re not going to win you a championship. Lowry is the greatest Raptor of all-time, but he’s getting old and will most likely leave as a Free Agent next year. Before we know it, this team could be in a similar situation to when Carter and Bosh left and this franchise has worked too hard to get back into the spotlight to be taken out of it, again.
Just like Leonard did two years ago, Beal would make the Raptors a legitimate NBA contender and will turn them into must-watch TV. It’s tough to see this team play “home” games in Tampa Bay right now, but with Beal or a similar superstar leading the charge, it would make that transition a little easier.
I know it’ll take a lot to get a top-10 player into a Raptors uniform, but if they could acquire Leonard, why can’t they do it again? Before the fanbase turns, make a splash, Toronto. Mid-level talent doesn’t win championships, superstars do.