Going way back to the 1995 NBA expansion draft, the Association welcomed two new franchises from north of the border – the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies. While the Grizzlies’ run in British Columbia was short (six seasons), the Raptors on the other hand are a mainstay and are truly Canada’s team.
While the Raptors faced many growing pains as a new franchise, players like Vince Carter, Morris Peterson, Jerome Williams and many other big personalities helped draw in fans slowly but surely. With attention came success, as Toronto qualified for the playoffs in its fifth season and won the Atlantic Division in its 12th year.
Raptors Have Been Cash Cows Recently
While the team was having moderate success in the early 2000s, with a handful of playoff appearances, it managed only one series victory, coming back in 2001. The Raptors have found more repeated success in recent memory, making the playoffs for seven straight years from 2014 to 2020 and winning the Atlantic six times over that span, and the franchise value exploded.
In the image above from Statista, you can see that the Raps were valued at about a half-billion dollars in 2014 and that nearly doubled in a year. In 2015, the franchise won back-to-back Atlantic Division titles for the first time but still failed to get out of the first round of the playoffs.
There was a spike of about another half-billion dollars from 2019 to 2020, bringing the value to $2.1 billion and representing a four-fold increase from six years prior – not a bad investment. Of course, that most recent spike came when the Raptors got over the hump in a big way, winning their first NBA championship while having their first Most Improved Player in Pascal Siakam and first Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard.
How Did COVID-19 Impact the Value?
Obviously, the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge economic impact and sports were not spared either. Of course, in 2020, play halted in March and didn’t resume until the NBA bubble in Florida later in the summer. The Raptors weren’t even able to play at home for much of the 2020-21 season, which meant no fan revenue. All that said, the value of the franchise still increased, though with a very modest gain of $50 million, its lowest growth in eight years.
Where Does Toronto’s Value Land In the NBA?
With an entire country supporting the team, it’s understandable that when success came, the value would increase. With such a huge spike in valuation, where do the Raptors sit among the other teams in the NBA?
Impressively, Toronto is the 10th team on the list at $2.15 billion, with three teams atop the list that are valued at over double that number. Of course, it makes sense to see the Lakers and the Warriors, with their recent success, inside the top three most valuable teams in the Association but leading the charge at $5 billion is the New York Knicks.
Since the turn of the century, the Knicks have won only one playoff series and just eight playoff games as a whole. If success breeds an increase in value, one can only imagine what levels New York will grow to if it starts winning playoff games.
The Knicks won one game at home in the first round against the Atlanta Hawks this season and I thought the city was going to shut down. It will be good for the league if New York can find some success and maybe get to the conference final for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.