The Toronto Raptors’ brand new team identity: The “Run-N-Fun”

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

When looking at the teams of old that were so iconic, so unique, that they warranted a nickname of their own, you may think that they need to be one of the most devastating teams in basketball history. Phi Slama Jama, The Bad Boy Pistons, The Showtime Lakers, etc. By that metric, Scottie Barnes and 2021-22 Toronto Raptors don’t have much to offer.

That doesn’t mean this team won’t be fun to watch. After all, how could a team led by OG Anunoby and featuring the likes of a defender like Barnes possibly be dull? We’ve already seen what a tantalizing display of basketball this team can uncork on a nightly basis over the course of their preseason schedule.

Nick Nurse has tried to reinvent their style of play, and he’s had great success with it so far. This team plays fast, aggressive, and free, causing chaos on the defensive end and turning it into easy transition opportunities on the offensive end.

This unit’s style of play is why this team deserves a nickname. They are young, they are weird, and they are going to play what may end up being a visually iconic brand of basketball I’ve coined as “Run-N-Fun”.

Toronto Raptors: What is Run-N-Fun?

A play on the term Run-N-Gun, Toronto’s style is a variation of that team mentality. Run-N-Gun is a team philosophy geared towards up-tempo play, pushing the ball on the break, and getting quick shots up both inside and out.

With the 2021-22 Raptors’ youth and speed, we have the “Run” part down to a T, where we start to lack is with the gunning. If you look up and down the roster, the team is not stacked with perimeter shooting.  While Precious Achiuwa and some other bench players are making strides, the Raptors’ offence will not be based around perimeter creation.

Instead, the Raptors will be using their length and defence to disrupt plays on one end, get stops, and run the break. While the forwards aren’t all lights out shooters, they are all above average passers and ball handlers, which fits in with Masai Ujiri’s directive to get younger, longer, stronger, and more versatile.

The youth, size, and athleticism, combined with the way this team will be flying around on defence and on the fast break, should help generate more blocks, steals, and dunks than Toronto has seen in a long time.

Between Barnes, Achiuwa, Dalano Banton, and Justin Champagnie, this team is going to be as long as any in the East, willing to switch everything with the aim of causing maximum chaos, and energetic enough to beat everyone else down the floor.

Now, that’s no promise of explosive success. In the recent past, the best teams in the league are built around surrounding an elite ball-handler and scorer with a bunch of shooters. The Raptors have neither of those things this year, at least based on what we know about this roster right now.

The Raptors have no guarantees this as far as winning goes, but one thing we do know is that it’ll be fun. More fun than last year, at least. It’ll be more fun than milling around in playoff mediocrity, treading water and getting swept out of the first round, all while being ravaged by COVID-19 and injuries.

For the first time in over a decade, we as fans get to watch a young, retooling team go all out with the aim of getting better every night. Watching our young guys develop and our team improve, win, and lose together will be a blast if they play this no holds barred style of play.

That’s why this Toronto Raptors team is Run-N-Fun. It’s not only the mantra of this team, it’s the mantra of this season. They may not win a ton to make the playoffs, but it’s gonna be fun anyway, and the groundwork they are laying for the future is genuinely mouth-watering.

Next. Raptors Preseason superlatives and awards. dark