Here we are, blissfully at the end of one of the worst roads in Toronto Raptors franchise history.
Closing out their first losing season in eight years, the Raptors sat pretty much everyone after they had been mathematically eliminated from the play-in en route to an 0-3 record in the final week. Couple those three losses with the four from last week and the season ended in the only way it could ever have ended, on a seven-game losing streak that saw almost every veteran player sit for the majority of those games. In short, not the best!
With that and for the final time in the 2020-2021 season, let’s take the temperature.
Kyle Lowry, Greatest Raptors Of All Time
If this is the last time Kyle Lowry is featured in the Toronto Temperature wearing a Raptors jersey, then let us remember his final bucket fondly.
Potentially Kyle Lowry's final made bucket as a member of the Raptors: pic.twitter.com/YYV8Xpi8ZC— (@AaronBenRose) May 15, 2021
How fondly? Well, if the Los Angeles Lakers win against Toronto in Lowry’s final game of the season, then LA doesn’t start their playoff journey in the play-in tournament against the Golden State Warriors and scoring champion Stephen Curry. If the Lakers lose to Golden State and somehow manage to choke against Jonas’ Grizzlies or DeMar’s Spurs, well that would mean Kyle Lowry’s absolute monster of a 37 point, 11 assist double-double will serve not only as his Raptors swan song, but as a direct link to an embarrassing, play-in tournament exit for former Raptors killer LeBron James. How sweet it would be.
But not as sweet as all of this.
Please come back.
Big Scoring Nights, Jalen and the Gang
One of the weirdest accomplishments for the Raptors throughout this tumultuous year was highlighted in the final week when Jalen Harris popped off for a career-high 31 points against the Dallas Mavericks, including this absolute gem of a highlight.
That weird accomplishment they achieved after Jalen’s 30 piece that including the Luka juking was setting an NBA record for 30-point scorers in a season, which, shout out to stat compilers out there for constantly finding these tucked-away gems.
Pascal Siakam— Chris Walder (@WalderSports) May 15, 2021
Gary Trent Jr.
An NBA record for 30-point scorers in a season.
That’s just the most absurd stat I’ve ever seen. From THIS season of all seasons.
Though the season in Tampa was a complete gong show, it’s important to remember that there were some really great moments spiced in as well. Raptors fans were treated to Fred VanVleet’s 54 point night and Kyle and Pascal’s 37 and 39 point ravaging of the Lakers. On top of big scoring, there was also uber-efficient scoring nights from the likes of Paul Watson who racked up 30 points on 77% shooting and Gary Trent Jr.’s even more ludicrous showing of 44 points on 89.5% shooting.
Be thankful for the little things.
Masai Ujiri, 95%
Leading into Masai Ujiri’s end of season media availability, the feeling around the Raptors organization was that Ujiri is very likely to stay.
“I would put it at 95 per cent yes” — on Masai Ujiri and the growing optimism that he will be staying with the Raptors: https://t.co/qJpKHASViI— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) May 18, 2021
Coming out of his media availability, Masai decided it was time to clear the air.
"Nothing new." - Masai Ujiri on the latest about his contract— (@AaronBenRose) May 19, 2021
Did anyone expect anything different? Masai, and by osmosis, the Raptors organization, are famously credited as tight-lipped about internal discussions around contracts, trades, discipline, etc. Those lips did not part today, and with Masai boarding a plane to Africa for an extended period of time, an answer on whether he will be staying or going will not likely be provided anytime soon. Masai did make one thing clear though.
"Everyone said try to make the play-in tournament. Play-in for what? We're trying to win championships here." - Masai Ujiri— Amit Mann (@Amit_Mann) May 19, 2021
I'M RUNNING THROUGH A WALL FOR THIS MAN pic.twitter.com/DIqDLG6VtN
Masai Ujiri, 5%
On the flip side of that 95%, if the noted 5% possibility of Masai leaving comes to pass, then Raptors fans are in for a sad offseason. An offseason that’s already besieged by canceled events in Toronto and the possibility that the Second Greatest Raptor Of All Time might be joined by the Greatest Raptor Of All Time on his way out the door.
For now? For now it’s a waiting game not only for the Toronto Raptors, but for the rest of the league who will surely want to pounce on an opportunity to employ Ujiri if he decides to stay in the NBA.
Tampa, Good Riddance
Enough has been said by media, Raptors fans, players, coaches and staff about how Tampa just isn’t Toronto. Some might say that is putting it lightly. But at the end of the day, as awful as it was for Raptors personnel to have to uproot their lives in the most uncertain times of their life, at least it’s over now.
Also, at least it gave us this?
this is the greatest play i have ever seen pic.twitter.com/rhWoeswQnJ— William Lou (@william_lou) February 24, 2021
Never again. Please. Never let this happen to our precious Raptors again, Adam Silver.
See you next season. Back at home.