So, You're a Raptors Fan For Real Now

Time to learn about the game

by
Raptors player Pascal Siakam
Paskal Siakam AKA Spicy P is a whole mood (Photo: Getty)

After jumping on the bandwagon during the Toronto Raptors’ amazing NBA Championship run last season—and let’s be clear, there’s nothing wrong with being a bandwagon fan—you likely experienced how incredibly fun it is to be into basketball…and especially the Raptors.

And you likely want to keep the good times rocking and rolling, right? Great, because a new season is in full swing, and things are already heating up. But a lot has changed since the Raps won the Finals, and knowing those changes—as well as some of the basics of the NBA—will help keep your newfound fandom alive and well. Let’s get to it: Here’s everything you need to know about the Raptors.

How long is a basketball game?

There are 82 games in a season with each game consisting of 12-minute quarters. (And it might be obvious, but it gets asked all the time: There are four quarters per game).

Now, although that means a game should last 48 minutes, they tend to go a lot longer. Every time the whistle blows, the clock stops. And, if the game is super close, the end of the game can seem like it takes forever. Why? Well, you’ve probably noticed teams call more timeouts (to get their shit together) and the team that’s behind generally starts fouling the other team. They do this to try to gain back possession quickly, rather than waste precious seconds on the clock.

What are the main basketball terms I need to know?

There are lots of rules, regulations and plays in basketball. But, here are some key things to know and look out for during games:

Double Double

This is something that you’ll definitely hear about this season. (And no, it has nothing to do with Timmie’s.) It’s when one player completes two of the following stats: scores 10 or more points; has 10 or more rebounds; gets 10 or more assists; has 10 or more steals or makes 10 or more blocks. The most common of these are points, rebounds and assists. It’s called a triple double when three of the above happen and that is something really special.

Foul

A foul is called on players for doing things that aren’t allowed, like elbowing, tripping, blocking—the list goes on and on. A player is allowed up to five fouls per game until they “foul out” and are forced to the bench.

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When a player is fouled while taking a shot, they head to the free throw line to take an uncontested shot. The player takes two shots if they were fouled while while going for two points, and three shots if they were fouled during a three pointer, although that’s a little bit more rare. Once a team reaches their maximum team fouls (10 fouls in total) the opposing team is awarded foul shouts regardless of where they are on the court for every foul thereafter.

Now, a technical foul is a little bit different. A technical is any foul that does not involve physical contact. The refs get super into this one and make an aggressive T-shape out of their hands when they call it. Common example of a technical? A player or coach getting fired up and swearing or yelling at the refs. Not good.

Rebound

The person you hook up with after you break up with your ex. JK. A rebound is when a player shoots but misses off the rim or backboard, so the ball bounces back into play. The player who gets the ball after it’s shot gets to count a rebound on their stats sheet.

Most of the time, the defensive team collects the rebound; however, an offensive rebound can occur as well. Rebounds are super important because the rebounding team receives possession of the ball and the chance to score next.

Travel

Something we wish we were all doing this winter. But actually: A travel is called when a player takes two steps without dribbling the basketball. If a player stops dribbling, they have to plant their feet and find somebody to pass to, or shoot the ball. Keep that ball moving!

Turnover

A turnover is exactly what it sounds like. It happens when a player loses the ball to the other team. This can happen when a player makes a bad pass that’s picked off by the other team or loses the ball on the dribble.

What conference are the Raptors in?

The NBA is made up of two conferences: the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, and each conference is divided into three divisions. The Atlantic, Central and Southeast in the East, and Northwest, Pacific and Southwest in the West. Teams earn points for wins throughout the season with the top eight teams in each conference qualifying for the playoffs.

Who is on the Raptors roster this season?

Despite winning their first EVER NBA Championship last season, the Raptors saw a lot of change this offseason. Most notably, NBA Finals MVP Kawhi “The Claw” Leonard left the cold Toronto to go back home to play for the LA Clippers, where he’s been joined by six-time All-Star Paul George. Kawhi leaving Toronto marked the first time that the NBA Finals MVP left their championship team after playing with them for just one year. Welp.

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To make matters worse, the Raps also lost three-point assassin Danny Green to the LA Lakers. That’s right, he joined superstars LeBron James and Anthony “The Brow” Davis in Hollywood.

Thankfully, the core team largely remains the same. We still have veteran point-guard and leader Kyle Lowry, 2019 Most Improved Player Pascal Siakam, big man Marc Gasol, fashionista and foodie Serge Ibaka and dad Freddy Vanvleet.

But also: New meat coming through! The most important new Raps to look out for include forward Stanley Johnson, guard Matt Thomas, forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and rookie big man Dewan Hernandez. These three likely won’t start any games, but look for them to try to make some impact coming off the bench.

Why is Siakam called Spicy P?

In classic sports fashion, the Raps are chock-full of nick-names. Our fave? Pascal Siakam’s “Spicy P.” Surprisingly, Spicy P doesn’t actually like spicy foods. He gets his nickname from being “spicy” with “hot” plays on the floor.

Other nicknames we’ve embraced (but are generally used less often) are “Stormin’ Norman” for Norman Powell and “Papa” Freddy Vanvleet.

Who is the Raptors coach?

Off the court, head coach and drama king Nick Nurse is still at the helm. And, this year he’s joined by new assistant coach Brittni Anderson, who at 26 years old became the NBA’s youngest assistant coach and 10th female assistant coach in the league. It’s Brittni, bitch!

So, how will the Raptors do this year?

You know how you still loved the Spice Girls even when Geri Spice left the group, but things just weren’t the same? Well, Kawhi is like Geri…and that’s basically what it’s going to be like for the Raptors this season. While they’re not expected to win it all again, they’ll probably end up middle-of-the-pack in the Eastern Conference and make the playoffs. So, they’ll still give us plenty to cheer about.

What does Drake have to do with the Raps?

First of all, let’s clear one thing up: Drake doesn’t own the Raptors, a popular misconception. He is, however, the team’s official global ambassador. Which as far as we can tell, means he attends a ton of games and brings a ton of (sometimes manic) energy to the Raptors courtside.

He also gets to partake in all the Raps glory. After they won the Finals last year, Drake celebrated with the squad in Las Vegas (rumour has it he foot a lot of the bills), he partied with the team during the Championship parade in Toronto and he also got his very own Championship ring. We’re not not jealous.

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Drake’s label, OVO, is also a major partner of the Raptors. In March 2019, the Raptors Training Centre changed its name to the OVO Athletic Centre and each year the Raptors generally host six “Welcome Toronto” and OVO-themed home games complete with sweet swag for the fans. Nice.

What should I wear to a Raptors game?

Whether you’re watching at a bar, or lucky enough to go to a game, planning your outfit is going to be half the fun. One of our fave, classic combos is a jersey (preferably throwback or Championship) and pair of ripped jeans with booties or sneakers. When in doubt, any combo of black, white, red and purple will do.

So, there you have it. You’re all caught up for this year’s Raptors season. You’re in for a treat.

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