The Toronto Raptors will never dominate the airwaves. Even when they were competing for and winning championships, the larger networks didn’t put them in primetime slots on TNT, ESPN, and the like. The most Toronto would get were some NBA TV games and a couple of prime dates against other contenders.
Fresh off finishing outside the postseason picture in 2022-23 and with star point guard Fred VanVleet having left the team to join the Rockets, interest in the Raptors around the NBA seems to be at a low for the Masai Ujiri tenure. The Tampa season had more buzz than this, it seems!
The Raptors will be on national TV in America just a handful of times this season. They have one TNT game; a January 18 duel against DeMar DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls. The Raptors have three NBA TV games, which carry much less pomp and circumstance with them.
This total represents the lowest Toronto has had in the decade since Ujiri took over the team. When the roster appears to be lacking direction, and the constant overhanging cloud of their isolated market in Canada keeps hovering over their head, this is what happens to the schedule.
Raptors schedule: Toronto was given minimal national TV games.
If Toronto wants to correct this problem and get some games flexed into the national spotlight later in the season, Scottie Barnes needs to show that he is going to play like an All-Star in his third season. Pascal Siakam must also retain his expected level of excellence.
Perhaps a more exciting style of play could have superseded concerns about the team’s record and direction. However, with the half-court offense from last year unwatchably bad and a new coach in Darko Rajakovic coming to town, Toronto’s style is a complete question mark.
If Rajakovic is a master motivator, he could use the lack of publicity as a tool to get this team fired up. No one is expecting the Raptors to make a deep postseason run, and Rajakovic could use that fact as a prodding factor to get his players hyped up every single night.
The Raptors are no stranger to being overlooked by the larger NBA media landscape, as their market size has worked against them quite frequently. 2023-24 appears to be more of the same, unless the Raptors can start winning and change the narrative.