Welp, despite nearly 10 percent of the league testing positive to date, and the already-established MLS bubble in the very same complex the NBA plans to occupy compromised within a week, rich guy greed has us on a steady track for basketball to return in the Magic Kingdom in just a few weeks. Might as well steer into the skid, I guess.
With that in mind, SB Nation’s NBA sites spent the last couple weeks embracing their inner Lopez brother and leaned into the Disney of it all with a 22-team draft of all the original Disney characters you know and love. On account of a random draft order generator we here at HQ were not granted the opportunity to draft Robin Hood, who is objectively the best character (and maybe athlete?) the happiest place on Earth has produced. But that’s fine. When have the Raptors ever needed a high pick to find a gem?
Stuck picking 14th overall, Raptors HQ selects Alice from the 1951 classic, Alice in Wonderland.
Admittedly, I was a little unclear on what we were supposed to draft for in this exercise. Having perused the other team sites, it seems most folks were picking characters with their on-court abilities in mind. I opted to make my pick based on which character most embodied the spirit of the defending NBA champions. But that’s fine, because Alice is a kick ass pick in either context.
The on court stuff is obvious. Girl has magic mushrooms, given to her by her chain smoking caterpillar bud, that help her grow quite tall, which seems useful for basketball to me. With Marc Gasol deep in the throws of his mid-thirties and Chris Boucher being more of an erratic four than a steady back-up five, post-shrooms Alice fits as a rim protecting reserve who can give you 10 minutes, even while rocking dress flats. A 2019 Sixers team with such a reliable back-up may have beaten the Raptors in round two.
Speaking of ‘shrooms, this is where the off-court intangible stuff comes in to play. Alice’s bad trip of an afternoon through Wonderland is just about the closest representation of the Raptors’ 2018-19 championship run in the history of film. Alice is a character who came from humble beginnings, languishing in the dull English countryside just as the Raptors had over decades as the league’s irrelevant, Commonwealth-ruled outpost franchise. In the film’s climax, Alice uses the help of the late-arriving, fan favourite Cheshire Cat to escape execution and get back home — basically Fred VanVleet turning into a three-point bombing monster in the final 10 games of the post-season. And after all the commotion in the Queen of Hearts’ garden, Alice awakens from her nap, thrust unwillingly back into her normal life, but forever changed by whatever the hell it was she just experienced.
If that doesn’t perfectly describe the 11 months Kawhi Leonard spent as a member of the Raptors, nothing in the Disney canon does.