The Toronto Raptors officially started the 2022-2023 season with the team holding its annual media day on Monday.
The team met with members of the media before they headed out to Victoria, B.C., for training camp, signaling a return to normalcy.
This was the first time in three years that the team was able to hold training camp in another Canadian city.
“It’s been a couple of years we’ve been able to do stuff like this because of obviously COVID and the restrictions, but now we get back to normal, the tradition that we’ve had for many years here and we’re excited about it,” said Raptors president Masai Ujiri.
Last season, the Raptors suffered a first-round exit in the playoffs to the Philadelphia 76ers and the team is hoping for better results this season, while keeping its core group of players intact.
During the off-season, the team managed to only pick up a few players including Otto Porter Jr. from the reigning NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors and Juancho Hernangomez.
While the team opted to go with the status quo and keep its core intact, head coach Nick Nurse says the goal for the season remains the same.
“We always talk about development and for us, when we’re making our priorities of how to develop players, the number one thing at the top is winning, developing them, teaching them what winning is and how to win,” said Nurse.
Ujiri expressed a similar sentiment saying that even though the team made a commitment to grow, there is a clear expectation.
“We’ve always wanted to preach patience, but we want to win. We’re expecting to win. We play sports to win,” said Ujiri.
Point guard Fred VanVleet, who has embraced his role as the team’s leader, says he’s excited about players wanting to step up to the plate to ensure success.
“We have a lot of talent. I think it’s a good problem to have, but we have to find a way to play championship-level basketball,” said VanVleet
Training camp will run from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1, with the first pre-season game slated to begin on Oct. 2 against the Utah Jazz. The team will play two of their five pre-season games in Edmonton and Montreal as part of the NBA Canada series.
The regular season will kick off on Oct. 19 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.