At least Raptors have history on their side

FRANK ZICARERLLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:46 PM ET

TORONTO - OAKLAND ó About the only thing on the side of the Raptors these days is history.

In the teamís 16-year history, no team has posted fewer road wins than this collection since the inaugural season in 1995.

The latest edition ended an historical road losing streak in an improbable win on Sunday in Oklahoma City, where the current five-game road trip tipped off, putting to an end an onerous 14-game slide away from home.

One glances at the remaining schedule, which featured the Raptors playing a late-night tip Friday night here against the Golden State Warriors, and there arenít many wins available.

One glances at the teams whose lot is similar to the Raptors and itís easy to project a fifth-worst finish for Torontoís hoopsters.

And for those who believe history often repeats itself, thereís a lot to look forward to amid the losing and the uncertainty surrounding the future of GM Bryan Colangelo and head coach Jay Triano.

When the 2006 NBA draft lottery was conducted, the Raptors had the leagueís fifth-worst record and had an 8.8% chance of winning the lottery.

History shows that the Raptors would take Andrea Bargnani.

In retrospect, many have lamented the decision not to take Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge or a Rajon Rondo, some of the names who have become established players in the league.

Despite his many defensive and rebounding shortcomings, Bargnani has proven himself to be a scorer in the NBA, but itís become abundantly clear heís best suited on a team where heís the third option, second at best.

Heís not a go-to guy and with the clarity of hindsight itís easy to see why Roy (bad knees), Gay (one-dimensional), Aldridge (second option) and Rondo (canít shoot) were never considered, much like Bargnani, as franchise players.

If history is to repeat itself in mid-May when the NBA holds its draft lottery and the Raptors happen to win it, all bets are off.

Suddenly, hope surfaces, even if many have described the prospect of a new collective bargaining agreement as hopeless.

The allure of playing in the NBA is so tempting that college kids will take the risk by taking the plunge into the pro level.

And if you want to cling to history, recall that Torontoís only franchise player was taken when the NBA last had a lockout.

For those needing a reminder in history, that player was Vince Carter, who came out in 1998 when the NBA had a lockout-shortened season of 50 games.

When the Raptors wing it to L.A. as this road odyssey wraps up with a Saturday night tip against the Clippers, club officials will be in nearby Anaheim for the NCAAís West Regional final.

If you saw Thursdayís semifinal pitting Arizona and Duke, it was hard not to see two potential franchise-changing players in Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams.

Williams was a USC recruit before making his way to the Arizona desert.

Along came the sanctions levelled against the USC program in the wake of the O.J. Mayo fiasco, forcing Williams to rethink his college path.

If circumstances had been different and different decisions been made, itís conceivable Williams and DeMar DeRozan would have been college teammates.

Imagine a Raptors team with Williams and DeRozan or a Raptors team with Irving, as pro-ready as anyone.

With the Raptors playing out the string and being subject to painful lessons, all thatís left is to imagine and think about a brighter future.

When the present is so bleak, thereís not much else to do.


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