TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors’ new NBA Development League will have a distinct suburban flavour when it makes its debut this season.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment announced Monday that it has purchased an expansion D-League team. It will be named "Raptors 905" and will play out of the Hershey Centre in suburban Mississauga.
The number 905 refers to the area code for cities surrounding downtown Toronto. Minnesota star Andrew Wiggins, teammate Anthony Bennett, Cleveland forward Tristan Thompson and Sacramento guard Nik Stauskas are a few of the NBA players who grew up in the urban sprawl known colloquially as "the 905" (pronounced nine-oh-five).
"We are thrilled to bring an NBA Development League team to basketball fans across the 905 region," Toronto Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri said in a statement. "Raptors 905 will give our young players a great opportunity to develop and gain valuable experience, while providing high level, affordable basketball to the community."
MLSE’s purchase of the D-League team means the Mississauga Power, one of nine National Basketball League teams in Canada, will no longer operate under the NBL.
"On behalf of the NBL Canada, we are excited that one of our franchises and key personnel will be joining the Raptors organization as they expand basketball further into Canada with the first NBA D-League team outside of the U.S.A.," NBL Canada Commissioner David Magley said in a statement. "This move is consistent with our shared objective of growing the game of basketball throughout all of Canada."
Torontonians tend to like city nicknames based on area codes. Superstar rapper Drake, a Toronto native, refers to the city as "The 6ix," a nod to Toronto’s 416 area code.
Toronto 905 will be the 19th team in the D-League, and first outside of the United States.
It will give the Raptors more involvement in the development of raw but promising prospects like fan favourite Bruno Caboclo and fellow Brazilian Lucas Nogueira, and Delon Wright, who was selected 20th overall in last week’s NBA draft.