A franchise that trades one of the all-time great Memphis Grizzlies and are currently fighting to stay in the playoff race would appear to be tanking... Right?
Especially when the expected #1 pick of the following year's draft is the best Canadian high school prospect ever... But it may be more than meets the eye.
While the Raptors first appeared to be throwing away their season or "tanking" to receive a high pick from the draft lottery, they now seem to have a better team. How you may ask? By a witty general manager by the name of Masai Ujiri, that's how.
Ujiri is also responsible for the blockbuster trade that sent Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks. A trade that many analysts and experts thought he lost out on.
It wasn't until after that the slow acting poison took effect and it was clear that it was the other way around. Masai Ujiri had brought in a number of key prospects such as Wilson Chandler and Danilo Galinari. The subsequent depth of the Nuggets was their secret weapon.
While the Knicks may have had Carmelo and all his star-power, the Nuggets were a team built to win whether it was with the starters or the bench. Fast forward to 2013, and you will see that Ujiri's former team in Denver is still very intriguing and deep with the ability to compete for the playoffs every year.
The Toronto Raptors, the team now managed by Ujiri, have just recently traded another big talent in Rudy Gay. Sound familiar? It may just be a hunch, but I suspect that the technique was used again to make the franchise a deeper team.
With new talent such as Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson and some wily veterans in John Salmons and Chuck Hayes, the Raptors look far more ready to compete. They also have their last two wins to prove it- most recently against the Chicago Bulls.
With the ball moving and the team playing pretty cohesively, although not yet quite on the same page, it's becoming more and more evident that Ujiri has no intentions of throwing away the 2013-14 NBA season.
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