Turning the tide a decade apart: 2013 vs. 2023 in Raptor Land

The Raptors created a champion from an unlikely position. Can they do it again?

The Raptors are at a more uncertain point as a franchise than most people have become accustomed to. This isn't to say they're in a horrible spot, but rather, that they aren't the juggernaut of success and excellence that made them the third most winningest franchise across the past decade -- Warriors (571 wins), Clippers (545 wins), Raptors (524 wins) -- and for the first time, champions.

In 2013, the Raptors were at a crossroads as well. One road was taken away by James Dolan's insecurities, and thank god because the Raptors don't win a championship if the Lowry-to-Knicks trade goes through. But, another road was taken by Masai Ujiri & co. as they jettisoned Rudy Gay and started the We The North era. The ripple effects ring loud and clear. The Raptors newest coach, Darko Rajakovic, cheered "We the North!" to a crowd full of people just last week.

Big thanks to commenter moremilk for bringing this up under my latest piece and making me want to take a closer look at how these teams compare. Cool idea and a great reference point.

Okay, let's bring up the similarities! The NBA is driven by stars, so let's start there.

In terms of age, the best players of each team (Lowry & Pascal Siakam) are about 2 years apart. 23-24 will be Siakam's age 29 season, and 13-14 was Lowry's age 27 season. They're also both, at that point, looking at free agency after the season. In terms of impact, despite Siakam being far more decorated at this point in their careers, it's safe to say they're both giving you certain All-Star impact, and can reach All-NBA level. Siakam is more robust in the traditional numbers, and Lowry does better in the advanced, catch-all stuff. Not a 1-to-1, but a pretty clean comparison. The big difference is the salaries, but we'll discuss that later.