The Toronto Raptors are trying really, really hard to be a legitimate NBA team, and I love it. They are drafting decently and continuing the process by holding onto players that turned out well and cutting those that did not. They even brought rapper Drake aboard for reasons unknown; but hey, if Drake can’t make you relevant and hip, nothing can.
To be frank, they are off to a decent start. They have a decent core in Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay alongside the overlooked Jonas Valanciunas and clearly intend on building a good team as seen in their additions of role players like Landry Fields, Steve Novak, and most recently, Tyler Hansbrough. They could very well sneak into the eighth seed and have playoff experience for the first time in a few years. The Raptors are a team composed largely of youth and talent led by a great coach in Dwane Casey, with something of a direction forming. Still, it seems as though something is missing.
What the Raptors need is some star power and veteran presence, something that would pack out the Air Canada Center and makes opponents wonder if they really could get away with a W at the end of the night.
What the Raptors need is Los Angeles Lakers point guard, Steve Nash.
Growing up in Canada, Nash was rumored to choose the Raptors in last year’s free agency period, which ultimately saw him head to LA with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard in one of the lamest super teams in recent memory. During that time, Nash got a speech from his childhood hero Wayne Gretzky about the pride of playing in his homeland that nearly brought Nash to tears. Clearly, the desire to play in the north is strong within Nash.
The Raptors need to ask themselves exactly how many two-time MVPs and eight-time All-Stars want to play in Toronto. I think they’ll find the answer is not many.
Nash could also bring some excellent ball movement and scoring to the Toronto. The trouble with such a youth based squad is more than the mental aspects. Young players can often be inconsistent, and an incredible shooter like Nash could boost the whole team. If available, get ready for a lot of alley-oops from Nash to Gay. And if not, Nash can simply score on his own. Often times, once a veteran joins a team their presence is so focused on it actually takes away from rookie development. Part of Doc Rivers‘ system with Boston Celtics teams of the past was to go all in on the old guys and leave the newcomers garbage time minutes. This wouldn’t be a problem with the aging Nash. I don’t see him being a huge minutes hog at the age of 39.
Good point guards usually go a long way with coaches in crunch time. Nash has run plays from a slew of interesting coaches throughout his career, and with a legend at the position like Nash, Coach Casey could benefit too.
The bottom line is Nash has a year, maybe two left in the league before he has to call it quits. Joining up with the Raptors would take away his chance at a ring but would let the only Canadian star end things in Canada. He would clearly be honored to play in Toronto, and Toronto could clearly do a lot with him. So for Steve Nash and the Toronto Raptors, the time is now.