3. SG DeMar DeRozan, 2009 NBA Draft, No. 9 overall
Part of what separates a star athlete from a role player isn’t just genes or dedication to the craft. Two players can have all the tools, a similar skill set, yet one excels while the other shows glimpses or struggles.
The former is true of DeRozan as a tweet by the Raptors 2009 draftee 9 overall was not only bold and prophetic but displayed confidence the young man had in himself.
After averaging 8.6 points a game in his rookie season, DeRozan watched as the star of the team, Chris Bosh, abandoned ship for a super team in Miami during the 2010 off-season.
He tweeted simply:
A Toronto legend was born that day. DeRozan would back up his comforting statement by averaging double digits in scoring over the next eight seasons, seven of which he was a better than 20 points a game scorer. During that time, he was the best scorer, if no the best player on the Raptors.
DeRozan, along with his good friend, Kyle Lowry, another legend in Toronto, would lead the organization to five of seven consecutive playoff appearances between 2014-2018, with one Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2016.
During his time in Toronto, DeRozan represented Toronto at the all-star weekend festivities four times, and his best scoring outburst came in 2016/17 when he averaged 27.3 points a game.
DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 first-round pick were swapped for the latest Toronto legend, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green. While the most loyal player in Raptors history felt betrayed, his departure paid off immediately, with Toronto winning the NBA Finals with Leonard in 2019.