Overmatched Raptors get a look at grim short-term future in loss to Clippers

Don't expect too many Raptors wins this year.
Los Angeles Clippers v Toronto Raptors
Los Angeles Clippers v Toronto Raptors / Cole Burston/GettyImages

The Toronto Raptors have waived the white flag on the 2023-24 season, and the resulting (mostly) poor play that has followed since the Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby trades has turned them into one of the more irrelevant watches in the league for the remainder of the campaign.

Losing to the Los Angeles Clippers is not a black mark against Masai Ujiri. Doing so without your starting center or point guard in Jakob Poeltl and Immanuel Quickley gives this team yet another explanation of why this was such a lopsided game. The mission now is getting Scottie Barnes and Gradey Dick shots, not wins.

The Raptors have won just two of their last 11 games. While fans might be able to compartmentalize the losing as the byproduct of a young team learning how to win in the NBA, that won't make the next few months of Raptors basketball any less excruciating to sit through in the moment.

This is the reality the Raptors find themselevs in. Wins and losses may not be as important to some as the individual performances of players like Barnes and Dick. After so much success in the past decade, this is not the situation Toronto wanted to find itself in.

Toronto Raptors' face grim short-term future after loss to Clippers.

Many of the players Toronto is hoping will lead them to championship glory in the future struggled against the Clippers. Barnes made just four of his 15 shots before the fourth quarter, Dick was once again cold from 3-point range, and RJ Barrett didn't have his most efficient night as a shooter.

Some fans might take solace in the fact that the Raptors could lose enough games to potentially end up getting their lottery pick back inside of the first six selections. Perhaps a player like Cody Williams or Alexandre Sarr could be coming their way this draft.

However, the same front office who whiffed immensely in judging Dick's NBA readiness is making that choice. Even if they get the pick back, the 2025 first-rounder will have those same restrictions on it, meaning fans could do this entire tanking dance over again. The Raptors are relying on development, hopes, and dreams, which might frighten more empirical fans.

The Raptors could turn this thing around in grand style, but it seems unlikely this team will threaten for a postseason spot until 2025-26. By then, Barnes will be on a second, expensive contract that will make it hard to get talent around him. A few good picks can change the whole narrative, but the records could be quite lean in the next few years.