Toronto Raptors Draft history: 5 times the Raps drafted a star

Toronto Raptors, NBA Finals, Pascal Siakam(Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors, NBA Finals, Pascal Siakam(Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Toronto Raptors
13 Feb 2000: Vince Carter #15 /

1. Vince Carter, 1998 NBA Draft, No. 5 overall (trade with Warriors)

The greatest draft day swap in Raptors history was at the 1998 draft when general manager Glen Grunwald swapped the No. 4 pick, Antawn Jamison, for his UNC college teammate in Carter, who was selected fifth overall by Golden State. While not technically a Raptors draftee, he was a Warrior for 10 minutes before the switch, so he counts.

While Jamison had a long and productive carer, Carter was even better. He was the #25 scorer all-time in the NBA when he ended his 22-year career last season. If Lowry and DeRozan are legends in Toronto, Carter was the first leading the Raptors to three consecutive playoff appearances in his first four seasons.

Vinsanity, Air Canada, Carter was half man-half amazing.

Carter was insanely athletic, earning the nicknames “Vinsanity” and “Air Canada” because of the heights he would rise to and the amazement he would inspire on a jaw-dropping dunk.

During televised broadcasts, Raptors play-by-play announcer Chuck Swirsky also referred to Carter as “Half Man Half Amazing.” As exaggerated as these monikers may seem, they may still have been understatements of Carter’s talents.

Carter would be named rookie of the year in 1999 after averaging 18.3 points per game in a 50 game strike-shortened season. He would win the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest putting his celebrated leaping abilities on display for the entire world of basketball.

After playing for eight teams in his career and even after the rift that led to his departure via a horrible trade in 2004, Carter has always had a fondness for where “Vinsanity”  began, evidenced by creating a scholarship award for those who cannot afford private education at a school in Markam.

Carter single-handedly saved the Raptors from a fate similar to their sister expansion franchise Vancouver Grizzlies during their infancy and troubled times. He created some of the first and most memorable feats of success in franchise history.

Next Thursday, Raptors’ management will have an opportunity to add another generational talent of consequential impact if they make the right choice.

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