Leading up to the start of the 2014-15 season, we'll be asking 20 questions about the team. Some of them more serious than others. All of them hopefully interesting or at least enough to spark a meaningful discussion. After hours of brainstorming, we came up with a perfect name for these articles, we're calling them 20Q's.
The Toronto Raptors have once again become the talk of the town after making the playoffs for the first time in forever. As the team continues its rebranding efforts, there seems to be one final piece of the puzzle that's missing: a Canadian born player.
In 1995, the NBA introduced two expansion teams in Canada: the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. While the Grizzlies moved to Memphis after six seasons in Vancouver, the Raptors have remained in Toronto and are now entering their 20th season in the league. The Raptors have become a team worth following again, which means it's perfect timing to embrace the notion of being Canada's team again.
With All-Star Weekend coming to Toronto in 2016, the team's affiliation with pop icon Drake, the re-signing of Kyle Lowry, and the return of the retro jerseys, the Raptors have a lot of momentum as a franchise. But do they need the presence of a Canadian-born player to truly call themselves Canada's team?
The talent pool in Canada is deep, but due to luck and other circumstances, the Raptors have not been able to add a Canadian to the roster recently, but not for a lack of trying. At the start of last season, before Toronto went on their improbable run to the division title and a playoff spot, the main question was whether the team should tank for a chance at the top lottery pick, and a chance to draft Andrew Wiggins. The team's success prevented this from being a realistic goal.
Even so, the team tried again at this year's draft, having expressed interest in Tyler Ennis, who was eventually taken by the Phoenix Suns just a few slots before the Raptors were set to make their pick in the first round.
While having a Canadian on the roster would be fun, it shouldn't be a priority for the team. It would make for a great narrative but only if it's a core piece that can help this team go deeper into the playoffs.
Some people might say that the Raptors can't be Canada's team without a Canadian player. But I don't think we need one.
Consider this: Canada has become the home of many immigrants from across the world. As a multicultural country, we're home to millions of people from different backgrounds. More of our ancestors come from somewhere across the globe and have made this country their home.
This is no different from how the Raptors are constructed. The team has become the adopted home for many American and European players. With guys on our team like DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Greivis Vasquez, Lowry, and Patrick Patterson accepting the role of playing in Canada, they’ve become unofficial Canadian citizens who are embracing the role of representing an entire country. Players like Amir have stay involved with the local community during their time here, and really integrated themselves.
It doesn't matter where the players are from, it's about how much they embrace the city, their role and how well the team does. If all those factors are in our figure, it won't matter if we have a Canadian-born player on our roster. We'll be Canada's team anyways.