The Toronto Raptors are the next team to invest in their own NBA D-League franchise. The Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment group (the group that owns the Raptors) announced on June 29th that they have acquired the right to own and operate a D-League team. The new club will be called Raptors 905, after the Toronto area code, and they will play in the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, 20 miles from downtown Toronto. The Raptors now become the ninth team to own and operate their own D-League affiliate and the Raptors 905 become the 19th team in the D-League.
The MLSE group hopes adding this D-League affiliate will continue the rapid growth of the basketball movement in Canada, particularly in Toronto. Seven current NBA players grew up in the Toronto area, as well as D-League alumni, such as Tyler Ennis (Milwaukee), Cory Joseph (San Antonio), Nik Stauskas (Sacramento), Andrew Nicholson (Orlando), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland), and former number one overall picks Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins who both play for Minnesota.
Another reason why the Toronto Raptors have gained their own minor league affiliate is so that they can develop their own players in their system. They were previously one of the 13 NBA teams associated with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and the players that they sent down, such as Bruno Caboclo, would rarely play or have limited minutes to make room for the other players. Now, players that are acquired or drafted by the Raptors can learn a similar system in the D-League and develop their skills effectively on a less crowded roster.
By Joshua Hamer