Title: The dreadful history of the Toronto Raptors’ starting small forward position
Date: March 31, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I revisited the cursed history of Raptors starting small forwards.
Kawhi Leonard offered a solution to a great number of Raptors’ problems when he was acquired in the summer of 2018. In Leonard, the Raptors had a bona fide superstar and a capable, two-way, No. 1 for the postseason. They had a player to build a contender around, and they won a championship as a result.
What Leonard couldn’t offer was a solution to a far less meaningful Raptors issue: That since trading Vince Carter, the starting small forward position has been a disaster.
It’s not just that the opening night role has been a depressing carousel, with 18 different opening night starters in the team’s 25-year history and 15 in the last 16 years. It’s that within each season, there have been smaller, equally depressing carousels, as well. The Raptors have started 61 different players at the three in total and averaged 4.4 per-individual season. The starting small forward position has been a large carousel of prospect disappointment, bad contracts and certain uncertainty.
Today, we look back on that dreadful history. I initially tried to move away from a chronological order because it felt overwhelmingly underwhelming, but there’s no better way to capture the exhausting tail-chasing the organization has endured. Thankfully, that structure also allows us to leave off on the rare hopeful note for this position.