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The 5 Things That Need to Happen for the Raptors to Win an NBA Championship

Casey's defensive philosophy propelled the Mavs to the NBA title.

The Raptors are a franchise in transition both on and off the court. A year after losing Chris Bosh and mercifully ending a 22-win season, the Raptors are now mired in what could very well become a year-long battle over the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

While Toronto, and Canada, are mostly known for their love of hockey, basketball has attracted a new legion of fans perhaps more rabid and dedicated than any other in the city. While the team has struggled for all but a few years of its existence, there is still a lot of potential for this team to capture the collective hearts of a people that are dying for a winner.

The Raptors simply have to do one thing: win.

So, with that in mind let’s take a look at the 5 things that need to happen for the Raptors to win an NBA Championship.

# 1. The Raptors must find new ownership. 

MLSE’s time in charge of the Raptors, Maple Leafs, and Toronto FC has been nothing short of disastrous. While record profits and ticket prices continue to soar, the product on the court/ice/field has been abysmal. The company has undergone a few changes since its inception, but if we take a look from 1998 (the year MLSE became the official name) to today you’ll see a history of success that is spotty at best.

In that time the Raptors have won one division title and one playoff series. The Maple Leafs have fared slightly better thanks to two Conference Finals appearances in the past 13 years, however, having missed the playoffs every year since the lockout thanks to the short-sightedness of ownership, the Leafs have once again become a running joke amongst fans around the league.

The sooner MLSE sells the team the better for every fan of both the Raptors and the Leafs. However, seeing how successfully MLSE has run a sports conglomerate like a business you’d have to assume the new owners would be purchasing the team with the same record profits in mind.

And when it comes to sport, turning a profit and winning are almost mutually exclusive save for the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, Lakers, and Celtics. Clearly, the Raptors are nowhere near that category in terms of attractiveness and history.

# 2. The Raptors need to hit another home run in next year’s draft.

All indications point that Jonas Valanciunas, the much maligned pick at #5, can ball. After he dominated the U-19 FIBA Championships the majority of Raptors fans conceded that they might have jumped to conclusions.

Now, no one is claiming that Jonas is going to become the next Hakeem, but in this day and age finding a competent center that can play both ends of the floor while hitting free throws at a better than 85% clip is a rare find. Though the NBA has quickly become a guard dominated league, having the center position solidified is an absolute necessity, especially in Toronto, which hasn’t had one since perhaps the days of Marcus Camby.

However, the Raptors will need to find another young phenom in next year’s draft, particularly a point guard that can break down the defense and hit the three. The Raptors point guard situation, once its strongest asset, has deteriorated in recent years with the decline of Jose Calderon. Jerryd Bayless was brought in to see if he could turn his career around, but there are no indications that he will ever become the consistent presence that the Raptors need at the point. In fact, once the lockout ends, Bryan Colangelo should be keeping tabs on Bayless and seeing what possible value he could attract.

# 3. The Raptors will need to win a big trade.

Bryan Colangelo has made an art of the small deal where he turns trash into treasure (at least for a brief time). However, Colangelo has failed to win a big deal in his time in Toronto and that will need to change if the Raptors want to win a title. Perhaps in a couple years time with the Raptors hovering around the bottom five of the Eastern Conference, Colangelo will use one or a couple of his young assets to bring a proven veteran presence with some mileage still left in his legs. A Pau Gasol/Kevin Garnett type trade that will have immediate benefits and catapult the Raptors into the top echelon of teams in the East.

#4. Dwane Casey needs to be a resounding success.

Casey will be the 8th coach in the franchise’s 16 years in existence. Casey was brought to Toronto to instill a defensive system and intensity that has been missing since Charles Oakley left town.

The Raptors have been dead last in defense for the past two seasons and that has to change under Casey. If the team still struggles defensively and shows no real progress in the next couple of seasons, we could very well see a 9th coach be brought in to Toronto.

The Raptors need stability, a solid defensive system, and a veteran voice to lead this team for the foreseeable future. If the Raptors hope to win a championship with this core in the next few years then Casey will almost certainly have to be part of that equation.

# 5. A superstar will have to emerge.

Whether through the draft (the young phenom) or already on the roster (Demar Derozan, Jonas Valanciunas) the Raptors will need to find their superstar.

Not an all-star – a superstar.

Realistically, the Raptors probably don’t have that player right now. And history tells us that superstars dominate the league and win championships. The exception to the rule was the Detroit Pistons, but they had 3 all-stars and a young, athletic, and solid player in Tayshaun Prince, great bench scoring and a revitalized Antonio McDyess during their heyday.

The Raptors will most likely have to emulate a team like the Pistons if they wish to have future success. A team built on defense, efficient scoring, and timely plays by veteran leaders.

It seems almost ridiculous to compare the Raptors to any type of championship team at this point, but these are 5 things that need to happen in order for them to begin to have delusions of grandeur.

The hard part? The perfect storm of events all colliding at the right time.

Will it happen? The cynic in me says probably not – at least with the current core and management but stranger things in sport have happened.

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