Toronto Raptors: Top-five power-forwards in franchise history

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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Andrea Bargnani (Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images) /

1 Andrea Bargnani:

Love him or hate him, Andre Bargnani deserves to be here.

The number one overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft, Bargnani was a bold choice by the Raptors’ front office, but they made an educated move.  They had witnessed the game change, and knew the value of the new era power-forward – one that could shoot like a guard but rebound and protect the rim like a center.

They had drafted a player like this in 2003 by the name of Chris Bosh.  What they also knew is that American players enjoy playing in America, and they didn’t want to lose another big-name talent so soon after the Vince Carter fiasco.

As a player coming straight from Italy, Bargnani would be more likely to want to stay in Toronto long-term, they thought, and they were absolutely right.  Also, the myth that European players couldn’t be stars in the NBA had already been proven false.  At the time when Bargnani was selected, another skilled 7-foot tall European named Dirk Nowitzki was taking the NBA by storm.

Although his final few months as a Raptor were messy, Bargnani was the Raptors’ best player for roughly three years, and of everyone on this list, he is the leader in points (total, and per game), seasons as a Raptor (seven), and many other statistical categories.  Between 2009 and 2012, Bargnani averaged nearly 20 points per game, five and a half rebounds per game, and just under one block per game.  He was approaching an All-Star level, and if injuries didn’t get in his way, he might have gotten there.

Unfortunately for Bargnani, he reached his peak right after Chris Bosh left for Miami, when the team was in shambles. If Bosh had stayed with the Raptors, he and Bargnani would have made an excellent front court pair.

Next. Five best Centers in Franchise History. dark

Bargnani’s exit from the Raptors wasn’t a graceful one.  Injuries prevented him from playing a lot of the time, and when he did play, he wasn’t the same.  When he was finally traded to the New York Knicks, Raptors fans were mostly relieved, but Bargnani had made his mark.

It’s unlikely that Bargnani will remain at the top of this list for much longer, but for now, he’s the obvious choice.