Even though the Toronto Raptors suffered a disappointing sweep at the hands of the Washington Wizards in the opening round of the 2015 NBA playoffs, president and general manager Masai Ujiri joined Prime Time Sports to stress the positives.
Taking the entirety of the past two seasons into account, the Raptors enjoyed much success, winning the Atlantic Division in both years while posting a new franchise-record for wins in 2014-15.
Despite suffering back-to-back first-round exits, Ujiri urged Raptors fans to see the big picture.
“You have to take the body of work and see what works and what doesn’t and what needs to be fixed,” Ujiri said. “There’s nothing to panic about. We won 48 [games] and came back and won 49. There’s some level of consistency. I look at the positives and then try and figure out the negatives.”
The former executive of the year was adamant the team is still on the rise, pointing to steps the franchise has made to bolster its brand.
“I like to look at some of the things that are trending the right way,” Ujiri said. “Winning two division titles in two years, having two all-stars in Kyle [Lowry] and DeMar [DeRozan], the Sixth Man of the Year [Lou Williams].
“We’re possibly getting a D-League team and we have the all-star game [in 2016]. I like to look at all those things and say we’re trending the right way, but there is work to be done.”
In terms of this season’s premature playoff exit, Ujiri credited a combination of the Wizards executing their game plan and the Raptors continuing their post-all-star-break struggles.
“Let’s give them credit, they played amazing,” Ujiri said. “It just came together for them. Even though we won four of the last five regular season games heading into the playoffs, I don’t think we were happy with the way we were playing since the all-star break.”
“Falling off defensively was a big concern, but I hope this is the new normal for us. At least if you’re having problems in the playoffs it’s a good thing and eventually you’re going to figure it out.”
Moving forward, Ujiri remained tight-lipped about the direction the Raptors will take over the off-season.
Head coach Dwane Casey was given a three-year contract extension at the end of the 2013-14 season, but rumours are swirling surrounding his future with the team.
You can find Ujiri’s interview in its entirety here.