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Raptors announce D-League team Raptors 905 for 2015-16 season

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Leiweke is a persuasive man.

The outgoing CEO of MLSE did the Toronto Raptors one more solid before departing, as the franchise announced Monday that it's now the proud owner of an exclusive D-League affiliate.

Raptors 905 will play out of Mississauga, a Toronto suburb, in a move that's become more necessity than luxury in the NBA. While D-League president Malcolm Turner had said the D-League would not expand for 2015-16, Leiweke, general manager Masai Ujiri, and the Raptors organization were apparently too convincing.

"We are thrilled to bring an NBA Development League team to basketball fans across the 905 region," Ujiri said. "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."

Raptors 905 will be the 19th team in the league and the ninth exclusively owned and operated by an NBA team. Nine other teams have hybrid affiliations - control of basketball operations but no financial ownership - and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants exist independently as a shared affiliate for the other 11 NBA teams.

The D-League's growth, both in terms of size and influence on the development of young NBA players, is difficult to ignore. The All-D-League teams were littered with NBA talent, the D-League playoffs aired on ESPN, and marquee franchises like the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are among the most aggressive users of the call-up system.

This is a nice step forward for the Raptors, who will enter next season with at least two players - Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira - in need of extensive development time.

And no, the name isn't a good one. They're trying to build off the popularity of The 6, a term for Toronto because of the city's 416 and 647 area codes, as 905 is Mississauga's area code.

But the name isn't really important here, with the Raptors taking an important step toward improving the foundation of the franchise and their ability to incubate talent.

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