The Toronto Raptors have been voted in as the team with the best support in the NBA, hitting Raps fans with one of the biggest compliments supporters of any team could hope to receive.
The Raptors announced their arrival as a serious franchise back in 2019, winning their first NBA Championship. Back then, they had veterans Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, which is very much not the case at the moment. But the team has shown potential with its youth development and fans are pretty excited about how far they could go.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited as a Raptors fan, not least due to the improvement shown by Precious Achiuwa and the fact that Scottie Barnes is around now.
The NBA’s general managers reckon the Raptors have the best home-court advantage in the league, making that clear in the annual GM Survey, which could be checked out here.
Toronto usurped the Utah Jazz, who were voted in as the team with the best fan support ahead of last season, snagging 21 percent in said poll. The Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets tied for second place, with the Golden State Warriors and Jazz completing the top five.
The 2019 champs posted a 24-17 record at home last season, having returned to their Scotiabank Arena after spending some time in Tampa, Florida due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Fans were more than happy to have their team back home and let them know it.
Head coach Nick Nurse and his coaching staff were also recognized by the NBA’s decision-makers, who say they’re second-best when it comes to defensive schemes and the third-best at running an offense. Adrian Griffin was voted in as the third-best assistant coach in the NBA.
That wasn’t all of the love the Raptors got, though. Former Most Improved Player of the Year Pascal Siakam got a vote for being the league’s most versatile defender while the Raptors were lauded as one of the most fun teams to watch.
Meanwhile, Pascal won’t be the only Siakam with the Raptors heading into the 2022/23 season. Christian Siakam, Pascal’s older brother, will be part of the coaching staff with the team’s G League affiliate, Raptors 905.
The announcement was made on Monday, when the team revealed the coaching staff for the season. They added that the older Siakam had been “working closely with the team in the 2021-22 season.”
Pascal is, of course, the pride of his family, having made it to the NBA and won a championship, something several greats were never able to do. But his brother has also made a name for himself in basketball. Christian played five seasons for the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis Jaguars in the NCAA. There are two other Siakam brothers (James and Boris) who played college basketball in the U.S.
Despite being praised as the team with the best home support, the Raptors are a long shot for the NBA title next season at 28/1 Ontario sports betting sites. They’re 14/1 to win the Eastern Conference.
The above odds mean very little to the support, though they’ll likely be keen to secure them as you just never know. The Raptors are the only team in the NBA with a whole country backing them. The players are being treated like rock stars across Canada ahead of the beginning of the upcoming season.
Guard Fred VanVleet claimed to have been blown away by the support the team received when they played the Jazz in Edmonton during the weekend.
“It blows me away every time we get a chance to come to these different places that don’t get to see us as much,” he told reporters on the back of a victory against the Western Conference outfit (H/T Yahoo Sports). “Edmonton was amazing. You look up to the rafters and it felt like people were hanging from the ceiling. It was just electric.
“From the moment we checked into the hotel it was rock-star treatment, and hopefully we put on a good show for them. It was just special, but it shows the Raptor brand and just how big we have grown and what we mean to the people and what the game means, what the team means being Canada’s team right now.”
The Raptors are touring Canada before going home to prepare for the start of the regular season. They had their training camp in Victoria, B.C, and have a preseason fixture set for October 14 in Montreal.
They will open the regular season against the Cleveland Cavaliers on October 19 and are heading into it with great expectations given their fifth-placed finish in the East last season.
Exciting times certainly lie ahead for Raptors fans.