The Sports Report: Chasing the Canadian dream

(Submitted by Noah Warren)

In 2011, the Vancouver Canucks made the Stanley Cup final, but lost in the final game to the Boston Bruins, failing to bring the championship title home to Canada.

A professional Canadian sports team hasn’t won a championship since 1993.

The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cupf and the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993. The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers made the Stanley Cup final in 2004 and 2006 respectively, but walked away empty handed. There are some good Canadian National Hockey League teams this season, but it’s the Canadian teams playing in the National Basketball Association that have the best shot at bringing home a championship.

Can the Raptors bring it home?

The Toronto Raptors started this season with an 18-4 record. They had an eventful off-season, trading away all-star Demar Derozan. He was with the team for nine seasons and was the cornerstone of the franchise.

In return, the Raptors acquired one of the top five players in the NBA, Kawhi Leonard. He was named a champion and was an MVP in the 2014 NBA finals when he played for the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard is coming off an injury-filled nine-game season, but he started this season scoring 24 points a game and shooting 47 per cent from the field. He’s only played 16 games as he’s sitting out back-to-back games to avoid injuries.

Toronto also had impressive turnarounds from several players. Serge Ibaka, the starting power, is beginning to look like his old self. He started his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder and was a defensive dynamo. He averaged more than three blocks a game and chipped in offensively. Now, he’s only averaging one block a game, but he had three games with two or more blocks. He’s also averaging 16 points a game and has emerged as a leader of the team.

Paschal Siakam is in his sophomore season and has joined the starting lineup. He played off the bench last season and was a spark plug for the Raptors. He’s a jack-of-all-trades for the Raptors. He plays defence, rebounds, can score and can bring the ball up the floor. He’s also hard to play against because of his hustle. He averages 14 points per game and shoots 63 per cent from the floor.

Then there’s Kyle Lowry. The leader and the heart and soul of the Toronto Raptors. He’s playing the best basketball of his career and should probably be in the MVP conversation. He’s been one of the best point guards in the game and has gone toe-to-toe with Lebron James. He’s averaging the season with more than 15 points and 10 assists per game. He’s also played in every game this season and has a shooting average of 46 per cent. People were questioning him entering the season because of his relationship with Derozan. The two were best friends and Lowry was quite emotional and angry after the trade. He brushed it aside and is solely focused on helping the Raptors win.

The Raptors have never won an NBA title, but they may be the best chance for a Canadian victory. It’s only November, but they have a great team and have the best record in basketball today. They have a big test on Dec. 6 as they battle with the two-time defending champions, the Golden State Warriors. It will be interesting to see how the rest of their season will go.