The Toronto Raptors is one of the top teams in the NBA today, and at their home court in the Air Canada Centre, thousands of fans fill the place up whenever the team goes out to play. Since the team joined the NBA in 1995, it has become one of the most exciting in the league and is the only Canadian club left after the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis.
Early Years: the Vince Carter Era
When the Raptors joined the league as an expansion team, they struggled to compete, but things changed for the better when the team acquired Vince Carter in 1998 via a draft trade. Carter’s highlight reels and the upgraded roster helped the Raptors compete in and set NBA attendance records.
From being a struggling expansion team, the Raptors made the playoffs in 2000, 2001, and 2002. During this period, Vince Carter played a pivotal role in keeping the Raptors in contention, and during this time, Carter led the team to a then record 47 wins and a playoff series victory in 2001 when the Raptors made it to the Eastern Conference semis.
The Post Carter Era
Because the Raptors couldn’t improve in the 2002–03 and 2003–04 seasons, management decided to revamp the team and traded Carter in 2004 to the New Jersey Nets. Following the departure of Carter, Chris Bosh became the team’s leader. In 2006–07, Bryan Colangelo became the Raptors’ General Manager and President, and he was responsible for getting Bosh and 2006 number 1 draft pick Andrea Bargnani together.
With this revamped lineup, the Toronto Raptors became playoff contenders again and, winning 47 games, winning the Atlantic Division title and made the playoffs after a five year absence. The team made it to the playoffs in the 2007–08 season but failed to reach the postseason for the next five seasons, and Bosh moved to Miami.
The Present Era
In 2013, Masai Ujiri became the new Raptors GM and one of the first things he did was ship Bargnani to the New York Knicks. The Raptors were now led by the backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and the new look team made the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season and clinched the Atlantic Division title. Although the Raptors lost to the Brooklyn Nets during the playoffs, the team is showing a lot of promise. With a young roster, the Raptors should be contending for the playoffs for many seasons.