The definitive starting lineup of the decade for the Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – DeMar DeRozan (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

DeMar DeRozan

It’s hard to discuss DeMar DeRozan and not think about the trade that shifted the whole paradigm of the NBA. The Raptors went on to win the title 11 months later and it wouldn’t have been possible had Masai Ujiri taken that gamble.

But we have to remember that the Raptors run at the title wouldn’t have been possible without DeRozan laying the foundations. As he put himself, somewhat bleakly, he was the sacrificial lamb that catapulted the Raptors into a different trajectory.

With DeRozan as the face of the franchise, there was a clear ceiling for the Raptors. He would never be good enough to take the team on his back and drag them to the NBA Finals, but he would win you games. DeRozan had an estimated 54 win shares during his nine seasons in Toronto – the third most in Raptors history, behind only Lowry and Chris Bosh.

The accolades don’t end there with DeRozan. He’s the franchise leader in games played, total points, free throws, and total field goals made, among other things, and despite the lack of postseason success, there’s no doubt surrounding the importance of DeRozan to, not just the Raptors, but the city of Toronto as a whole.

His re-signing with the Raptors back in 2016 was a big moment in the team’s history. It showed that the Raptors had the capability to sign superstar free agents – or better yet, keep them around.

DeRozan laid the foundations for the Raptors title victory, even if he wasn’t there to see it play out. The city owes him a debt, and surely his number will be retired after his career is done.