Since joining the Raptors, Masai Ujiri has been an enormous part of the rebuild of the Toronto Raptors. He has been involved in controversial trades, a controversial coach firing, genius draft steals, and savvy free agent moves that eventually led to the team’s first-ever championship.
He came in as a relative unknown, but bringing in Ujiri was one of the best decisions that Toronto has ever made. He is one of the best executives in the league, has the respect of his peers, and despite attempts from many other teams in the league, he has confirmed that he wants to stay in Toronto long term. What more can you ask for?
Nick Nurse: Going into the 2019 season, the Raptors had the reigning coach of the year in Dwane Casey, but he had only taken the Raptors to one conference finals, and never further. Despite his past success, Ujiri let him go and brought in Nick Nurse despite much criticism. This move paid off hugely, as Nurse took the Raptors to their first-ever NBA championship in 2019.
Draft Picks: Throughout his career, Masai Ujiri has made incredible draft picks, and even signed some undrafted guys who have made huge contributions for the Raptors. Whether he knew the players from previous connections, or just hit the jackpot on a sleeper, he has consistently wowed fans with some of his picks. Siakam is the pick of the bunch, as a 27th pick, but there are others. Delon Wright at 20, OG Anunoby at 23, Fred Vanvleet as an undrafted free agent, and even a draft-night trade for Norman Powell have all contributed to the Raptors’ recent success.
2019 Trades: With limited playoff success despite all of their winning seasons, Ujiri decided the Raptors needed to change something. Before this past season, he decided to trade franchise player Demar Derozan, along with Jakob Poeltl, to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. The move broke the hearts of Raptors fans at first, seeing Derozan go, but eventually paid off as Leonard won finals MVP in the team’s first-ever championship. He also traded Jonas Valanciunas and Delon Wright for Marc Gasol during the season, another big piece, and starter for the championship Raptors.