Toronto Raptors: Fan perspective on the big talking points | NBA News


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Raptors superfan and stand-up comedian Nathan Caton assesses the 2021-22 season for his team, and then casts an eye ahead to the 2022-23 campaign for Toronto.

Where my love for the NBA and the Raptors came from…

I’m Nathan, I’m a stand-up comedian and a Toronto Raptors fan and have been so since 2000 when I saw Vince Carter compete in the All-Star Slam Dunk Contest. It was like the culmination of a perfect storm. I had been a basketball fan since the mid-90s but never had a team, but as soon as I saw the man dubbed ‘half man, half amazing’ it made total sense.

I have lots of family in Toronto on both sides, my dad took me to Toronto for the first time when I was 11 and I fell in love with the city, and now I was watching this guy donning a Raptors jersey do these amazing, mind-blowing dunks… all the stars had aligned in my head. I was a Toronto Raptor. Little did I know that dunk contest would be one of the few highlights as a Raptors fan for MANY years to come!

My favourite players

Kyle Lowry smiles as he holds the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy aloft in 2019 – many Toronto Raptors fans still have a massive soft spot for him
Kyle Lowry smiles as he holds the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy aloft in 2019 – many Toronto Raptors fans still have a massive soft spot for him

For ages, it was Kyle Lowry – he’ll always be ‘Mr Toronto’ and I hope to see him come back in a coaching capacity one day.

Now, I honestly don’t have a favourite. I like elements from every player: I love how Fred Vanvleet aka ‘Mr Bet On Yourself’ has gone from undrafted to championship winner and now the leader of our team; I love Gary Trent Jr following in the footsteps of his father and how reliable he is from beyond the arc; I love how ice cold OG Anunoby is – has anyone ever seen him smile? I love the energy and enthusiasm of Scottie Barnes and being excited by how far this kid can go; I love Siakam’s determination. When things don’t go right for us, he cops a lot of flak, but if you look at his stats from the second half of the season he was averaging 20-plus points per game.

Grade for last season: B

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Showcasing his all-around potential for the Toronto Raptors, Scottie Barnes did a bit of everything to earn Rookie of the Year honours!

The obvious highlight: Scottie. Barnes!

This kid is fire!!! The only thing brighter than his future in the game is the white suit he wore on draft night!

Last season was a developmental one for us, which in my opinion was totally fine. We have a young core, so we need time to let that build. We still made the playoffs and there’s enough there to suggest that the future is bright. As Raptors fans say: “In Masai (Ujuri) We Trust.”

In terms of disappointments, I would say our lack of a quality big man. We haven’t really replaced the big men of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol of the championship winning season of 2019, so have had to play small ball for large parts of the season, which has been okay until we come up against teams with quality dominating bigs.

Also our bench depth was lacking for large parts which meant our starters were playing heavy minutes!

Assessing the offseason for the Raptors

A quality big man and keeping this young core together was crucial. There had been rumours about OG Anunoby wanting away but that hasn’t happened which is great. There had also been rumours about us being interested in KD, but that would’ve definitely meant blowing up our young talented roster, and probably even more – like the firstborn of every Raptors fan has to be named KD – that sort of thing. So we’ve kept the roster together. We haven’t traded for star big man but we’ve drafted a young center, so we’ll see what happens.

Also worth mentioning that bringing in Otto Porter Jr could be a masterstroke! He’ll add experience, length and depth, and improve our shooting from three. Did not see that trade coming but glad it’s happened.

Points of note from the 2022 NBA Draft

Indeed, we picked up young Christian Koloko. He’s 7ft 1ins, so a proper big. He was awarded Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year last season, so fits our ethos as Nick Nurse plays hard defense. He’s not ready yet, but with the Raptors having one of, if not the best development teams in the league, I’m intrigued and excited to see what they can do with him.

The Raptors’ aims for next season

I would say building on last season’s work. Hitting the playoffs again and competing even more when we get there. We’re close… maybe just a missing piece away and then we can compete for the chip again.

Three predictions for the season ahead…

  • OG Anunoby will smile once this season.
  • Pascal Siakam spins so much during a play that he creates his own electricity supply.
  • During a game vs the 76ers where the Raps are up by 20 in the closing stages of the fourth quarter, Nick Nurse brings on Drake just to rub it in Joel Embiid’s face.

Why should people watch the Raptors?

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In last season’s opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Pascal Siakam dropped 34 points for the Toronto Raptors in their Game 4 win over the Philadelphia 76ers to keep their hopes alive

To watch a young exciting group of players develop and improve. Plus the atmosphere inside the Scotiabank Arena is amazing!

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