Since the team's inception in 1995, over 200 players have played for the Toronto Raptors. Today we find out who the 30 greatest players in team history are.
So, this is pretty big. I'm not trying to subtly hint that this is the definitive list of the top 30 Toronto Raptors of all time, but it should be, even though it is by no means perfect. In fact, it's far from perfect. It is the imperfect rankings.
How do you whittle down such a large list? This isn't the Bachelor, nor is it the playoffs, where each team is objectively a postseason-caliber team. There will be disagreements, some players might be here due to the longevity of their tenure with the team, others purely for the short-term impact they've had on the team.
It's a tough gig being an NBA player, or so I would imagine. The extent of my NBA career stretches to being benched in the fourth quarter by the Phoenix Suns on 2K, while sitting in my bedroom halfway across the world. Every player's main objective is to win, win championships, personal accolades and the lot.
Toronto doesn't have the opportunity to boast about lifting the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, so winning achievements won't necessarily cloud my judgment when it comes to deciding the difference between the 27th and 28th best players. As for personal accolades, they extend as far as All-NBA appearances and the occasional Sixth-Man of the Year winner.
Unencumbered by any real bias, but laden with the pressure of such a tall order, I shall begin.
30. Andrea Bargnani
I wouldn't blame anyone if they were to stop reading immediately, but please don't go.
The Andrea Bargnani story isn’t one to look back on with the fondest of memories, but he plays an important part in Raptors history. He couldn’t rebound, nor could he really play center despite being seven-foot for pity’s sake. I already feel sick doing this.
Bargnani was drafted number one overall in the 2006 NBA Draft, the same draft as a certain Kyle Lowry (more on him later, no spoilers). His reputation coming into the league was fairly impressive, he won the EuroLeague Rising Star award in his final season as well as finishing the season as an Italian League Champion and a two time Italian Cup winner.
A fairly productive resume for someone aged 20 years old, at the risk of alienating myself and the readers I’ve elected not to compare his achievements to those of Luka Doncic, mainly because I can’t.
Bargnani was an All-NBA First Team Rookie in his first season, coming off the bench and averaging 11.6 points a game with 50-percent effective field goal percentage.
He had his uses offensively -- Bargnani could stretch the floor unlike a lot of power forwards and centers at the time. Maybe he was just born 10 years too early, or maybe he struggled to show up when it mattered most.
You’ll undoubtedly find Bargnani hovering around the top of many leaderboards for the Raptors, whether that’s down to the man himself grinding away or the Raptors for keeping him around as long as they did -- he’s there.
His Raptors tenure was plagued with inconsistent performances, injuries and strange experiments that had him play at small forward, sort of like Kevin Durant -- only nothing like him.
Bargnani was forced into a position where the Raptors wanted to win, but win with him, something that wasn’t all that possible. Ranking in the top 10 for games played and total points, you could argue that Bargnani did all he could under the circumstances, regardless he's here. Somehow.
I’ve probably been too harsh on him here but the fact he’s included in this list is a testament to how humble I really am.
29. Pascal Siakam
A fast ascension for Pascal Siakam, already at number twenty-nine in the beginning of his third season.
Drafted with the number 27 pick out of New Mexico State by way of Cameroon in the 2016 NBA Draft, Siakam’s reputation began to grow in the weeks building up to the draft. Primarily a defender with a high motor who could run the floor, any addition of an offensive wrinkle would be a nice element of his game. That’s exactly what has transpired over the last two seasons.
Siakam appeared in 55 games in his rookie season, starting in 38 of them before spending some time in the G-League and winning the Finals MVP as the Raptors 905 won the G-League Championship in 2017.
Some of the first few games weren’t an easy watch. Siakam was a raw prospect with obvious upside but was forced into a starting berth too early. The Raptors hadn’t yet traded for Serge Ibaka and had a glaring hole at power forward, Jared Sullinger even appeared for a brief spell before injuries reared their ugly head.
The 2017-18 season saw Siakam feature as one of the feel-good stories of the year. The fabled “Bench Mob”, consisting of Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, Pascal Siakam and the now departed Jakob Poeltl destroyed everything and everyone in their path, playing high-tempo basketball and running the floor into a space in our hearts.
Siakam has started the 2018-19 season in fine fettle, once again the starting power forward for the Raptors but this time his game is at a whole new level. Now a legitimate scoring option for Toronto, he has improved as a ball-handler and someone who can stretch the floor, which seemed beyond the bounds of possibility in his first two seasons.
This is just a small chapter of his Raptors career, but Siakam is taking all the right steps in my eyes.
Fun Fact: As of January, 2019, Pascal Siakam has the highest 2-point percentage of any Raptor ever.
28. Jerome Williams
WOOF WOOF, it’s J.Y.D. The Junkyard Dog. The undoubted star* of the Disney Channel original movie “Full-Court Miracle”. He also played basketball for the Toronto Raptors, and he was fan-favorite during his time in the North.
Jerome Williams was traded to Toronto in 2001 from the Pistons and even drove from Detroit to Toronto upon hearing the news of the trade. Talk about an eager beaver, if that doesn’t immediately endear you to the fans I don’t know what will.
Spending four seasons in Toronto, Williams earned a reputation for the gritty performances he’d give on the court.
A fairly undersized power forward at 6-foot-9, Williams was an agile and excellent defender who wouldn’t look out of place as a hustle-man in today’s game.
His third season with the Raptors will stand out as the best of his career, averaging 9.7 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game, at his peak Williams even put up 30 points in a win against the Orlando Magic.
Williams was never meant to be a floor spacer or a stretch-forward, he went 1-17 from three in his 180 games for the Raptors.
He was barely meant to be an offensive outlet at all, his moniker was purely hard and aggressive defense and it worked. He was part of the famous 2001 Raptors team that won its first ever playoff series, a 3-2 series win against the New York Knicks, before losing in the second round in the grueling series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jerome Williams will have a place in the hearts of many Toronto Raptors fans, and also place on this list, for years to come.
* FYI, J.Y.D definitely wasn’t the star of the movie.
27. Fred VanVleet
Another young gun and a fan favorite for many.
An undrafted free agent out of Wichita State, Shocker by name, shocker by nature. VanVleet’s diminutive size might well have counted against him in the land of giants, but he's just too good for it to count.
As a 22-year old rookie, Fred VanVleet didn’t see the court too much in his debut season, appearing off the bench in all of his 37 games in 2016-17. VanVleet was limited to garbage time minutes at first. He also spent valuable time as a member of the Raptors 905, averaging 16.9 points and just under eight assists per game in his 16 games featured.
The next year, part of the Bench Mob, was Fred’s ascension to a wider audience. VanVleet was a nominee for the Sixth-Man of the Year award, averaging eight points a game and shooting over 41 percent from three. Fred earned himself a reputation for coming up clutch in big moments.
He nailed a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to beat the Detroit Pistons in overtime as well as playing heavy minutes in the fourth quarter of most games. Fred rode with the moniker of “Bet on yourself” throughout the season and became one of the most likable Raptors of the modern era. It helps that he’s so good, mind you.
Fred has filled in for Kyle Lowry multiple times during the 2018-19 and has looked comfortable in the role as a starter. The Raptors could well have their point guard of the future in VanVleet, it’s about time the rest of the NBA bets on VanVleet, not just Toronto.
The Champ is here.
26. Serge Ibaka
Another current member of the Toronto Raptors, it’s only recently that Serge Ibaka is proving his real worth to the Raptors.
Ibaka was brought into the fold before the trade deadline in 2017, a first-round pick and Terrence Ross the price for the shot-blocking big man.
Ibaka started in all 23 of his regular season games for the Raptors before proving to be quite a valuable commodity in the playoffs. The Raptors knew they had something to work with, but how to pull Ibaka’s true potential would be a conversation starter for the next year.
Ibaka struggled in 2018, there’s no other way to put it. Playing at power forward was an issue, Serge looked a shell of his former self.
Rather than dominating the paint, Serge spent a lot of his time outside the 3-point line, spacing the floor or being dragged outside by the opposing teams' power forwards, leaving the less mobile -- and frankly worse defender -- Jonas Valanciunas to protect the rim at all costs.
Ibaka’s impact was no lower than the 2018 playoffs, despite actually starting the series against Washington relatively well. Serge looked lost in the series against Cleveland and was benched in the third game after posting up two measly points in Game Two.
Raptors fans were adamant that the team should look for deals to package Serge into, as far as we knew, he was potentially finished.
But then there was a moment that could well define Serge Ibaka's time with the Raptors. In the offseason, it was revealed that Ibaka would be making the switch to center under new coach Nick Nurse, a revelation if there ever was one.
Ibaka has seamlessly made the switch to full-time center, starting the majority of the games this season.
Serge is looking back to his best, a rim-protecting athletic big who can feature in any big match-up, at long last there is light in the tunnel. It’s good to finally see who Serge can be in this set-up, and it lands him at number twenty-six.
25. Lou Williams
The original SixthMan of the Year for Toronto, Lou Williams won the award in his sole season with the Raptors in the 2014-15 season. Williams averaged 15 points and a whole lot of usage off of the bench.
Lou Will arrived from the Hawks along with the draft rights to Lucas Noguiera. His reputation as a professional microwave was warranted, and still is to this day. His stint in Toronto was a considerably memorable one.
Williams took a few games to get into the swing of things, but once he got going he really started to make his mark.
Williams scored 20-plus points 57 times in his 80 games in Toronto, he hit a then career-high 36 points to knock off the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers. The only win in Cleveland for Toronto during LeBron’s second spell with the Cavaliers, so that counts for something surely.
Lou Williams was a decisive factor in helping the Raptors to a 49-33 season but was unable to inspire the team in the playoffs, a first-round exit followed in that playoff series against the Washington Wizards. You know, the one where they couldn’t take a game off the sixth-seeded team.
Regardless, Sweet Lou’s incredible season earned him the award for the Sixth Man of the Year, narrowly beating Isaiah Thomas to the top honors for the year.
Williams made his intentions abundantly clear -- he was willing to re-sign in Toronto but the Raptors declined to offer him a contract.
Williams will go down as one of the greatest career-bench players of all time. A shame that it was only for one year.
24. Terrence Ross
Terrence Ross was drafted with the eight overall pick out of Washington in 2012 and spent the majority of his first season on the bench.
Drafted to finally put an end to the Raptors woes at small forward, Ross started 132 of his 363 games as a Toronto Raptor, so maybe he didn’t really put an end to a turgid time trying to fill the position.
He did, however, score 51 points in a game. Ross scored, what was then, a franchise record 51 points in a loss against the Los Angeles Clippers. He still owns the record for most points in a regulation game. He was, and still is, the only player to ever score 50 points in a game while averaging under 10 points a game.
I think that’s a record that really sums up Ross, capable of going off on any given night, but rarely doing it. He hit 10 3-pointers that night, a career-high.
His five seasons with the Raptors were spent dunking, shooting threes and generally just disappointing everyone on a regular basis. Ross was, and is, a good player. A very good player in his day, he just never consistently put it together for the Raptors.
Ross ranks thirteenth all-time for points as a Raptor, as well as ranking third all-time in 3-pointers made with 598, behind only Mo Peterson and Kyle Lowry.
The stats back-up T-Ross’ impact on the Raptors and no one will forget that 51-point game in a hurry, I just wish we really saw Ross put it all together for the Raptors.
23. Jalen Rose
Question: how do you try to define someone’s career without mentioning the butt-whooping they were given by Kobe Bryant?
Answer: I don’t think you can.
I’ll get it out of the way nice and early. Yes, Jalen Rose was the scapegoat, and the main culprit, as Kobe dropped 81-points on the Raptors back on January 22, 2006.
It hurt, it probably hurts Jalen a lot more than it hurts any of us, but he had a solid career regardless of what happened on that fateful night.
Now that that’s out of the way, Rose was a pretty good Toronto Raptor. He spent three seasons with the team and averaged 16.7 points per game throughout his time there. He could play across three positions, he was a good ball handler and he could score.
Rose doing his thing was a fun thing to watch, driving to the rim and wriggling his way through contact. Had he been a willing defender he could have been a lot higher on this list.
Jalen gave us entertainment though, at a time when there wasn’t too much to be willingly positive about. Always fun with the media, which makes sense given his transition into an ESPN analyst,
Rose proved to be just as fun on the court as he was off of the court. He scored a game-winning basket in overtime against the Kings as one of his final contributions as a member of the Raptors.
He’s also the only player to ever be traded for Antonio Davis -- TWICE!
22. Cory Joseph
Our first NBA Champion featuring on the list now, and one of my personal favorites. A hometown boy, of Pickering returning home as a free agent a year after winning a title with the San Antonio Spurs.
Joseph signed a four-year $30 million contract and requested to wear the number six upon arrival. So that settled the fan-favourite status pretty quickly. Joseph was signed as the back-up to the evergreen Kyle Lowry and performed admirably as the initiator off the bench while also filling in numerous times for Lowry as a starter, including in the 2016-17 playoffs.
He endeared himself to the Raptors faithful early on in his first season, draining a three at the buzzer to beat the Wizards 84-82.
If that doesn't get you going, not much will. Joseph gave the Raptors some much-needed energy off the bench, the Raptors bench averaged only 29 points a game in the 2015-16 season but Cory Joseph did his best to lead the unit in crucial moments.
Joseph stepped up in the 2016-17 season, averaging what is still a career-high in points at just over nine per game. Lowry had a multitude of injury concerns during the regular season, forcing Cory Joseph into the starting role for 22 games.
CoJo had his first career double-double against Orlando a few months after scoring a career-high 33 points against the Brooklyn Nets.
His Canadian homecoming was cut a few seasons short in the summer of 2017, Joseph was traded to the Indiana Pacers in a sign-and-trade for C.J. Miles. While it was short-lived, Joseph gave the fans some special moments to cherish.
21. Kawhi Leonard
Is Kawhi Leonard too high on this list, only less than half a season into what might hopefully be the first of his many seasons as a Toronto Raptor?
Possibly, that's for you to decide. But to me, he's earned his place on this list. Even if it feels like he's too low down, with only more than quarter of a season of game time under his belt, Kawhi has proven to be one of the best players to put on a Raptors jersey.
Leonard was traded to the Raptors in the summer of 2018, in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a first-round pick.
His desire to be traded came about after a misdiagnosis of an injury which kept him out for the majority of the 2017-18 season. The Raptors took a big risk trading, maybe, the most loyal player in the team's history for Kawhi, who is a free agent come the end of the 2018-19 season. L.A. could well be Leonard's preferred destination come the end of this season, but Toronto has to feel confident in re-signing him, or at least feel they have a fighting chance.
An NBA Champion, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a multiple-time All-Star, Leonard's résumé screams All-World talent. His arrival has lifted the Raptors to the top of the NBA, even if they haven't been fully healthy at any point this year. An incredible player in isolation, driving to the rim and basically in every other facet of the game.
If Leonard sticks around in Toronto for longer than one season, expect him to be a lot higher in the coming years.
20. Donyell Marshall
Donyell Marshall arrived in Toronto in December of 2003, along with Jalen Rose and Lonny Baxter. But what is there to say about someone who hit twelve threes in a game?
Oh yeah, that.
March 13, 2005: Donyell Marshall knocks down 12 of his 19 3-pointers to help himself to 38 points and the Raptors to a 128-110 victory over the Allen Iverson-led Philadelphia 76ers. Marshall tied the record for the most 3-pointers made in a game, a record set by Kobe Bryant for the Lakers in January 2003.
Marshall was a stretch four in a time where stretch fours weren't the valued commodity that they are now. He hit on 41 percent of his 3-pointers during his two seasons with the Raptors, a remarkably efficient number, especially when he was attempting just over five a game.
Donyell benefitted from a lot of help defense on Vince Carter and from Jalen Rose attacking the paint, he just had to fade to the corner and knock down the shots.
Give Donyell Marshall more credit than just hitting threes. He was an excellent rebounder and a great shot blocker, averaging over 10 rebounds and one block per game in his first season in Toronto.
That first season in Toronto was sadly the best we would see if Marshall, he was relegated to the bench for the start of the 2004-05 season and started only two games that season, his production and minutes went down and Marshall then moved onto Cleveland in the summer of 2005.
19. Charles Oakley
If you didn't have a big, bruising power forward who could punch a melon in half back in the 90s, you probably weren't doing the 90s right.
Arriving in Toronto during the 1998 season, the Raptors trading a disgruntled young man named Marcus Camby -- not the first budding star to be traded by the Raptors and certainly not the last -- for the burly power forward.
Oakley brought a necessary veteran leadership to a locker room that featured a young Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. Never the most graceful player, Oakley was a tough, gritty and durable star who could add rebounding and muscle to the young core.
He started in 207 of his 208 games as a Raptor, averaging 7.9 points per game and 8.0 rebounds. By the time he joined the Raptors, Oakley was already 35 years old and in an obvious decline. In his first two seasons, Oakley only averaged 7.5 rebounds and 6.8 rebounds per contest, back-to-back career lows for the former Knick.
The stats didn't matter though, Oakley just straight up busted faces and flung his body about like he was a Stretch Armstrong holding a grudge. Teams didn't want to match up against Oakley in the nineties and they probably wouldn't want to now, either.
Things have gone pretty awry for Oakley since he stepped away from basketball, most famously his bust-up at Madison Square Garden in 2017. Oakley was alleged to have yelled at James Dolan, the man who has held the New York Knicks hostage for the better part of twenty years, and refused to stop, leading to his ejection from the arena.
I'm going to decline to talk more about the controversies surrounding Oakley, instead I'll wish the man well. Life goes beyond basketball, sometimes the reality outside of it is harder to grasp.
18. Anthony Parker
A EuroLeague Champion and two-time EuroLeague M.V.P, Anthony Parker's résumé outside of the NBA was enough to coerce the Toronto Raptors into bringing Parker back into the league -- six years after he left the Orlando Magic.
Parker was drafted twenty-first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1997 NBA Draft, the shooting guard struggled to adapt to the NBA and left to ply his trade with Maccabi Tel Aviv and Lottomatica Roma before his re-emergence in 2006.
Parker was a three-and-D pioneer, if you're willing to call him that, and was the Raptors starting shooting guard from the moment he arrived. He averaged double-digit points in his three seasons with the Raptors and averaged 42 percent from beyond the arc.
His impact on the team goes beyond offense, Parker helped sure up a defense that ranked in the bottom five in defensive efficiency and was a factor in the team clinching its first ever Atlantic Division title, the best regular-season record in franchise history and its first trip to the playoffs in five years.
The Raptors finished 41-41 the next season, but the .500 record was enough to get the team into the playoffs for successive years, and Parker proved to be a consistent player for the team all season. Parker played an average of 39 minutes per game in the playoffs, his shooting numbers were down and he struggled in the five-game series defeat to the Orlando Magic.
It's often said that some players are born ten years too early, and Anthony Parker definitely fits the mold of someone who could seamlessly tie into a teams game plan in the current pace and space style of the NBA.
17. Patrick Patterson
Four seasons were well spent for Patrick Patterson in Toronto, despite his ugly departure from the team in 2017. Patterson refused to attend his exit interview after a humiliating loss at the hands of LeBron and the Cavs. Yes, it was the sweep. No, it was the other one.
Patterson was traded to the Raptors in December 2013, he was part of the package that sent Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, alongside John Salmons, Chuck Hayes and Greivis Vasquez and made his mark as the most important player of the trade for Toronto. Patterson offered a blend of strong defending and a necessary amount of outside shooting -- he was a 37-percent shooter from deep during his time in Toronto.
Patterson was often the player to stabilize the bench unit and his minutes could stagger into the starting line-up - the Raptors had a hole at power forward that Patterson could fill when needed, he offered a lot of versatility to the Raptors, the rotations he would feature in would usually prosper, but as time went on his impact started to waiver.
Patterson looked fairly out of touch during his last season, passing up on open 3-pointers to instead take fairly open looks from inside the paint.
The 2017 Playoffs were maybe the turning point for Pat Pat, who shot an effective field-goal percentage of 38 percent during 10 games, averaging just over three points per contest. The original LeBron defender for Toronto, Patterson didn’t match-up well with James at all and was limited to just 16 minutes a night. His time in Toronto looked to be coming to an end.
Then the exit interview happened, or didn’t happen, and we all knew that Patterson would be moving on. Shame.
16. Marcus Camby
Marcus Can’t Be, the original poster boy for young disgruntled stars in the North.
Camby was the number two overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft and was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in his first season, he was a slight-framed powerhouse if such a thing existed.
The 17-year veteran only spent two seasons in Toronto, playing 126 games and starting 96 of them. He was a menace who could do it all, and had a pretty solid roster around him, including Damon Stoudamire, Doug Christie and Walt Williams.
The team was still relatively new though, so finding it’s identity took a while. It didn’t help that Camby had a litany of injuries that slowed him down in his rookie year, mainly back and ankle injuries.
The Raptors won a handy 30 games in Camby’s first season, he averaged a career-high 14.8 points in his rookie season, adding just over two blocks per game.
A scandal emerged during his first season in the NBA -- it was alleged that agents provided Camby with $28,000, cars and a host of other luxury items while he was at UMass. Camby announced that it was a true and UMass’ Final Four run was subsequently stricken from the record.
Second season syndrome didn’t exist for Camby, he led the league in blocks with just under four per game, Camby’s athleticism and wingspan along with his defensive IQ meant he could always get into the right spot to swat the ball like a fly.
Sick of losing after his second season, a season in which the Raptors amassed a putrid 16 wins, Camby was traded to the New York Knicks and the Raptors were back to square one until Vince Carter arrived.
15. Keon Clark
Sadly, Keon Clark had a short-lived NBA career. Drafted by the Orlando Magic in 1998, Clark was traded to the Denver Nuggets where he spent the first three years of his career before moving to the Raptors.
He holds the franchise record for the most blocks in a single game with 12, an incredible feat set back in March of 2001, a few months after the Raptors picked Clark up.
He was an efficient player who could attack the rim as well as he could defend it.
Clark would stack up fairly well as a rim-protector in today’s NBA, it’s just a shame we never really got to see his true talents. He currently holds the best defensive rating in Raptors history at 99.2, as well as being in the top 10 for blocks, even though he only played in 127 games for the Raptors. Furthermore, Clark only started in 31 of those games.
Clark admitted to “never having played an NBA game sober” and that he would usually drink during halftime. Clark would drink “half a pint, to a pint of gin daily” during his NBA career, that’s not a healthy revelation for anyone.
His bouts with addiction wound up with Clark spending time in prison for weapons charges. Hopefully, Clark’s time in prison has been a rehabilitation period for the former NBA big man and judging by a recent interview with Sportsnet, it seems like the time away is what was needed.
A great career cut short, but a life given a second chance.
14. T.J. Ford
In a post I wrote for this site a few months before the 2018-19 season started, I ranked T.J. Ford has the fifth-best point guard in Raptors history. Now, I’m ranking him as the fourteenth best player in Raptors history.
Ford arrived with a reputation full of injuries and question marks about his durability, hence the injuries.
Ford missed his sophomore year due to back injuries and was deemed fit to play in 2005. His time in Milwaukee was cut short as he was traded to the Raptors for the promising Charlie Villanueva the following season, Bryan Colangelo wanted a true point guard to lead the team and assist blooming big-man Chris Bosh.
Ford ranks second all-time in assists per-game for the Raptors with 7.2 per game and in the top ten for total assists with 908 in his Raptors career. One of the Raptors best all-around guards of all time, Ford had the ability to attack the rim with his unbelievable speed, something he started to lose as the injuries built up.
T.J. was averaging 7.9 assists in his first year in Toronto, but once Jose Calderon came into the fold Ford began to lose his place in the team, his alleged refusal to play second-fiddle all but sealed his fate.
Ford A fantastic player for one full season, and had T.J. Ford not suffered devastating injuries, we might have seen a lot more of him in the next few years.
Still, fans saw pretty cool moments, Ford dished out a career-high 18 assists against the Knicks, one short of the franchise record. He also took over in overtime against the Supersonics, scoring pretty much all of the teams points. Ford was fun, real fun.
13. Doug Christie
Doug Christie was an absolute constant for the Raptors in his four years with the team. A prototypical 3-and-D guy in today’s NBA, Christie was a solid starter for the Raptors who just locked down opposing players and knocked down 3-pointers.
Christie started in 299 games for Toronto and played 34 tough, gritty minutes per night.
Technically, Christie was the ultimate glue guy. He stuck around when the roster went through multiple looks, averaging a cool 14 points a game and knocking down a respectable 35-percent of his 3-point attempts in his four years. The percentage only went down in his last two years with the team, he was hitting over 39-percent in his first two seasons.
As previously mentioned, the Raptors went through multiple stars with Christie on the roster, including Marcus Camby who has already been mentioned, as well as Tracy McGrady and Damon Stoudamire, who both left the team in acrimonious circumstances after only spending a short amount of time with the team.
Christie, unlike the other stars, just stuck to his guns and got the job done. The 16-win team of 1997 might have been a lot worse had Christie not been here and alternatively, the 45-win team of 1999 might not have fared as well had Christie been somewhere else.
He did go on to become a four-time All-Defensive Team selection in Sacramento, including First Team selection in 2003. He perfected the art of defense in Sacramento, but he learned the ropes in Toronto.
Doug Christie, the Danny Green of the late nineties. The ultimate glue guy.
12. Alvin Williams
If I’m honest, Williams might be a bit too high on this list, he could well be ahead of T.J. Ford but longevity gets the nod here, thanks to Williams' eight seasons spent in Canada, even though a lot of those seasons were plagued with injuries.
Part of a trade that sent the disgruntled young superstar, Damon Stoudamire to Portland, Williams was never meant to jump out with the stats, he had Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady to do most of the heavy lifting in terms of scoring.
WIlliams featured in some of the best moments in Raptors history, though, especially in the early years. He was a superb defender and had enough vision to run an offense, he could also shoot when it mattered the most. Time to set the scene.
May 4, 2001: The Raptors are leading 87-83 with just under a minute left on the clock, Alvin Williams has the ball at the top of the key. Williams slips and loses control of the ball, Vince Carter takes control and is then double-teamed by two Knicks defenders. Williams looks at the pressure and fades to the corner, wide open to receive the pass from Carter and knock down the open jumper. The Raptors go up 89-83 and pretty much kill the game off with this shot.
Ball game, one of the most famous moments in Raptors history, even though the shot didn’t change the swing of the game. It doesn’t matter though, the shot holds a lot of emotional value and it deserves to remain that way.
11. Morris Peterson
Like Christie, Mo Pete was a vital piece of the puzzle for numerous years, even when the Raptors were bad. Boy, were they bad.
Peterson was drafted twenty-first overall in the 2000 NBA Draft, his seven seasons in Toronto provided some memorable moments, including his incredible game-tying shot against the Wizards to send the game into overtime. I don’t really know how to describe the shot but here goes.
Michael Ruffin has butter fingers and his attempt to send the ball up into the stratosphere and out of harm’s way ended up with the ball traveling ten feet into the air, landing in the welcoming hands of Mo Pete. Peterson then heaves up a three in mid-air as time expires, the bucket goes in and the crowd erupts. Crazy.
Peterson became an elite defender during his time with Toronto, as well as a fan favorite. Seven seasons of nothing but dedication and clutch performances will do that for a player. His 371 consecutive games played was also an NBA-record at the time, he missed his first game in November 2006.
Availability is the best ability after all. Peterson is second in games played as a Toronto Raptor, ranking only behind DeMar DeRozan.
Peterson jumps out as a mainstay on most categories, he’s second in 3-point field goals made, as well as top ten in rebounds, assists, steals and sixth in VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). He began to fall out of favor once Anthony Parker signed for the Raptors, his contract ran down into 2007 and we never saw Morris Peterson as a Raptor again.
10. Amir Johnson
First of all, Amir Johnson ranks sixth all-time in box plus/minus for the Toronto Raptors. That’s pretty impressive in itself. Johnson arrived in August of 2009, traded from the Milwaukee Bucks along with Sonny Weems in exchange for Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic.
Amir was a defensive-anchor for six seasons even if he was an injured mess by the time he left Toronto to join the Celtics in 2015.
He didn’t stuff the stat sheet with blocks and steals, but he just made life tough for opposing players, contesting shots from all over the paint.
Never the most offensive of players, Amir Johnson had a career-best season for points, rebounds and assists in 2012-13, including a career-high 32 points in a 106-94 win against the Los Angeles Lakers. He became a lover of the city and in turn, the fans became endeared with a new cult hero. A hero who could finish plus-17 on a night even though he only scored two points, it doesn’t make any sense, but it was true love.
Johnson’s 451 games played rank in the top ten of all-time, which is pretty fitting for the start of the top ten countdown. Longevity matters of course, but so does being an all-around great player. That’s exactly what Amir Johnson was.
9. Antonio Davis
Much like Charles Oakley, Antonio Davis epitomized the nineties in one undersized, but hard as nails body.
He joined the Raptors in 1999, in exchange for Jonathan Bender, who went to the Indiana Pacers. He came to Toronto to bolster up a frontcourt that already boasted Charles Oakley, also known as the toughest man ever. Oakley’s superb defense, even at the ripe old age of 35, allowed Davis to prosper more on the offensive side of things.
Boy, did he ever.
Davis’ production rose prominently in the seasons that followed, Davis helped the Raptors to 45 wins in the 99-00 season. He averaged 11.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and just over one block in his first season, his points averages went up in the playoffs too, as the Knicks bounced the Raptors out in a 3-game sweep.
Davis only got better as time went on for Toronto, even earning himself a surprising, but definitely deserved, All-Star selection averaging his first, and only, double-double of his career at 13 points and 10 rebounds a game.
As the seasons went by, it felt like Davis would never begin to decline, even in his age 33 season, where he was averaging 17 points a game in the playoffs. Even when he was needed to be the second scoring option, Davis could always be relied on to get the job done. Everything he did was a thankless task, but the Raptors fans gave him the recognition he deserved.
Davis was traded to the Chicago Bulls for Jalen Rose in 2004, the first of two times he would be traded for Rose. The second time only lasted for eight games, but the Raptors dumped some salary and got to see Davis in a Raptors uniform one more time.
8. Tracy McGrady
In all honesty, Tracy McGrady is probably top five in terms of talent. However, longevity takes precedence in this scenario.
McGrady was a non-factor in his rookie season, he barely played, averaging just under twenty minutes per contest, his minutes went up significantly once head coach Darrell Walker resigned and was replaced by Butch Carter. He admitted that his rookie year was hell and that he would pretty much sleep up to 20 hours a day, which does sound pretty swell.
Come the 1999-2000 season, the duo of Carter and McGrady (led by Carter) began to make their mark on the NBA and the All-Star weekend of that season made the Raptors seem cool for the first time ever.
Both Carter and McGrady gave iconic performances in the Slam Dunk contest before Carter came out on top. McGrady was left playing second fiddle yet again.
McGrady was incredible in that third year, he was already a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year before moving to the starting lineup, but good lord was he ready for his own team.
McGrady was averaging 15 points, 6 rebounds, just over 3 assists and 2 blocks in his third season in Toronto. He was finally finding his feet alongside Vince Carter and the Raptors could definitely have envisioned a title opportunity in the coming years.
T-Mac had other ideas though, he wanted to The Guy on the team, not the right-hand man to Vince Carter. McGrady left in the summer of 2000 to move back to Florida and join the Magic. He went on to live up to his potential, sure. Think about what could have been though, it would have been special.
7. Jonas Valaciunas
Jonas Valanciunas has benefited greatly from a long-tenured head coach in Dwane Casey and a General Manager who is willing to nurture talent in order to get the best out of them.
JV was drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 Draft with a fairly decent reputation coming out of Lithuania as a 20-year old center. His transformation into one of the most efficient scoring bigs has been a revelation for the Raptors, and at 26, there’s nothing stopping him getting any better.
Yes, JV might not be the greatest defender - by all accounts, he’s not very good at all. He struggles to defend a pick-and-roll and can’t really get up to block shots, but with the right defensive help around him, that doesn’t prove to be much of a problem.
Heading into the 2017-18 season, JV was viewed as a foregone conclusion, however, the game had passed him by and JV couldn’t adapt.
Centers were beginning to stretch the floor and if you couldn’t do the same, you would find yourself on the bench. That’s when Valanciunas proved that he could be a real asset for the team going forward. He always felt like the third-option by default, but once he began to knock down 3-pointers at a decent clip, you felt like you could rely on him that bit more.
Teams started to pay attention to JV fading to the 3-point line and the paint would begin opening up.
Valanciunas has played the majority of his games with the bench in 2018-19, and at times he’s struggled to make a real impact. Other times he can put up a double-double in one quarter.
Regardless, JV has developed into one of the biggest successes in Raptors history.
6. Damon Stoudamire
The emotional attachment to Mighty Mouse is real. The first ever draft pick in Raptors history, Stoudamire was drafted seventh overall in the 1995 NBA Draft. His impact in such a small space of time was noteworthy, but like most of the young stars that played for the Raptors in the early years, the tide ended up turning and no one liked losing or apparently playing in Canada.
Stoudamire averaged 8.8 assists per game in a Raptors uniform, the best mark in franchise history by a long way. His rookie season saw him dish out over nine assists per game with 9 points per contest.
Stoudamire was a lock for Rookie of the Year and set the record for the most 3-pointers made by a rookie in season -- 133 threes to be exact.
Despite his size, Stoudamire was an excellent on-ball defender in the right match-up, his dogged approach and hustle made life a living hell of opposing point guards. In his 200 starts for the Raptors, he averaged over one steal. He did have a case of the turnover bug in himself, but I’m not here to nitpick, Stoudamire was a joy to watch in the land of giants. His play masked how bad the early years really were.
Once then-GM Isaiah Thomas departed from the team, Stoudamire grew weary of the front office and the direction of the team. Like the handful of stars that would learn from his ways, Stoudamire took his talents south of the border, joining the Portland Trail Blazers during the 1997-98 season. Things would never be as promising as they were in Toronto though, but the damage was already done.
Great player though.
5. Jose Calderon
Calderon’s eight seasons in Toronto were spent displacing and being replaced by a mirage of point guards, he even gave Kyle Lowry a little scare early on in Lowry’s Raptors career.
A merry-go-round of T.J. Fords and Jarrett Jacks meant that while Calderon was often the go-to starter, it never felt like the job was 100-percent his, even though he appeared in over 500 games over eight seasons.
Calderon took his time to adapt to the up-tempo style of the NBA, something that proved to be a knock against him, that and his overall defensive acumen. Calderon was the prototypical Euro point guard -- crafty, shifty and all of the adjectives that describe a street corner hustler, except Calderon was maybe the most lovable man to ever don the Raptors uniform.
Ranking third in games played, in the top ten for true shooting percentage and third in assists per game, Calderon really was a mainstay who could do a bit of everything on offense.
His shooting picked up after his rookie year, and he went on to shoot 38 percent from three while playing for Toronto. Before being traded to the Pistons midway through the 2012-13 season, Calderon was hitting 42 percent of his 3-point attempts in 45 games.
Calderon passed the torch to Kyle Lowry that season, and has came back to haunt the Raptors numerous times since his departure, most notably in the 2017-18 season, where he was knocking down what felt like all of his shots against the Raptors.
4. Chris Bosh
When Bosh left the Raptors in the summer of 2010, he left as the Raptors all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks, double-doubles and free-throws made. He’s fourth in total games played for the Raptors and his importance to the franchise can be summed up in one statement.
Chris Bosh was an incredible basketball player.
There’s easily a case for him to be a top two Raptor, but a weak conference and his desire to move on might well hold him back here, but barely.
Bosh was the number four overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, a Georgia Tech kid with a slight frame but the ability to out-rebound and block anyone in his vicinity.
Bosh posted gaudy numbers in his rookie year and was an All-Rookie First Team selection at the end of his first season, averaging 11 points, over seven rebounds and just over one block.
His partnership with Carter had the potential to become one of the best tandems in the league. It never had the opportunity to flourish, however, Carter forced his way out of Toronto a year and a half after Bosh’s arrival in the North, disgruntled with the direction of the team (a recurring theme).
Once Carter left, Bosh stepped up but struggled to bring real success to the team. He became the face of the franchise but his impact would never supplant that of Carter. His transcending metamorphosis from slight-teenager to offensive super God was quite something though.
I’d be willing to listen to arguments on whether Bosh could be placed higher on the list, but I just don’t see how he can be ranked ahead of the top 3.
3. Vince Carter
I stumbled around with the number two and three spots numerous times when writing this article. I had Vince at number two multiple times, but once again, durability and longevity prevail for the final time in this piece.
Vinsanity is super cool to look back on, like up there with some of the greatest fads in NBA history.
Carter dunked the Raptors into a whole new stratosphere, from the ugly expansion team with a dinosaur logo to an international market in the space of a weekend.
Sure, no one really wanted to play for the Raptors, at least not Carter, but it meant something to an up and coming team to be recognized for something that’s actually worth talking about and not just a footnote in NBA folklore.
It only took Carter two seasons to be considered a fully-fledged star, averaging 25.7 points per game in his second season, his ability to score from all over the court, not just from highlight reel dunks, was in full-effect all season long.
Vince only appeared in the playoffs on two separate occasions for the Raptors, far less exposure on the main stage than a player of his caliber deserved. His impact in the 2000-01 playoffs was unlike anything the Raptors fans had seen before, and haven’t really seen since, the star player showing up and showing out consistently, something that counts against DeRozan when comparing the two.
Ultimately, we all know how the Vince Carter story ended in Toronto. He significantly shifted the culture of basketball in Canada though, many young Canadian players citing Carter as their influence in the game of basketball. That can’t go unnoticed.
2. DeMar DeRozan
Look, it’s okay to look back at the DeRozan era of Raptors basketball and hold nothing but good memories. DeMar led the Raptors to their most successful run of seasons in the regular season and in the playoffs, he became an elite offensive player without ever really adopting a 3-point shot.
It’s also okay to look back on the DeRozan of Raptors basketball and feel like the glass was half-empty at times.
DeRozan was an incredible regular season player and while he did have some success in the playoffs, it wasn’t really enough to fall back on to with great confidence.
We saw DeMar disappear all too often when it mattered most and while he did become an elite offensive force he never really did take that next step and adopt a 3-point shot.
See how something can change in context? It’s hard trying to determine how good someone is, it really is.
DeRozan was everything the Raptors fans wanted though, he was durable, he holds the record for most games, minutes played and points scored as a Raptor.
He was loyal to an absolute fault, his decision not to entertain any other teams in his free agency period in 2016 ranks as one of my favorite feel-good moments.
He gave us incredible moments, like dunking on Anthony Tolliver so bad that he signed with the Timberwolves, he set the franchise record for points scored in a game with 52 and he even came up big in the playoffs when the team desperately needed him, scoring 32 points to help dispatch the Milwaukee Bucks in a six-game series.
DeRozan had all the tools to put it together in the playoffs -- we saw it. We just didn’t see it enough.
A lot of Raptors fans will look at DeRozan as the greatest Raptor of all-time. Others will say he’s more likely to rank third in such a list. For argument's sake, DeRozan slots in nicely at number two here.
However you choose to remember him, just remember he was a great Raptor, one of the best.
1. Kyle Lowry
Lowry’s place as the best player in Raptors history can be attributed to the fact that he has been the best player on a Raptors team that is currently going through its most successful period ever.
As of January 2019, he ranks sixth all-time in games played, fourth in points, first in steals and first in 3-pointers made.
Lowry has the ideal combination of longevity, statistical greatness and winning all on his side. Also, no offense to DeMar, but Lowry was a consistent performer in the playoffs.
He puts his body on the line on a nightly basis, taking charges from guys almost twice his height, even when we don’t want him to. He’s a dog, a born winner who hates losing.
One of my favorite things to do when the Raptors lose is watching Kyle Lowry, losing isn’t in his DNA nor should it be. Not when he has an abundance of talent at his disposal.
Lowry has taken over games all by himself, his Game Seven breakout party against the Miami Heat in the playoffs springs to mind. He could also hand out 15 assists like it’s no one's business.
His status as an underdog and as a gritty competitor who has to prove himself every night fits well with a team that still has to outplay itself just to be mentioned in America.
Lowry can still defend as hard as anyone in the NBA, his offensive production remains the epitome of efficiency. A Box Plus/Minus favorite and an all-around overlooked star in the league, even at the age of 32 Lowry is still proving doubters wrong.
There are no doubts about him here, though. He’s the undisputed number one.
The Greatest Raptor of All Time.