The Toronto Raptors made their highest draft pick in over a decade in the 2021 NBA Draft, choosing to add Florida State standout Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 overall selection. The Raptors have had some big names come through Toronto despite the fact they haven’t been around for a very long time as a franchise.
Players like Vince Carter and Chris Bosh arrived in Toronto with boundless hype, and while they may not have had the smoothest exits, their play on the court was everything the franchise could have asked for.
Of course, the Raptors haven’t just leaned on those drafted high, as even players picked outside of the lottery or brought onto the team as an international free agent has been able to produce instantly. Despite being such a young franchise, Toronto has gotten plenty of impact performances from their rookies.
Barnes will have plenty of great seasons to measure himself against. By the end of his rookie year, is there a chance we’ll see him unseat one of these players with one of the 10 best debut seasons in Raptors history?
Top 10 rookie seasons in Toronto Raptors history.
10. DeMar DeRozan, 2009-10
DeRozan would eventually become one of the greatest players in Raptors history, but he got his start as a wiry shooting guard out of USC that served as a complementary piece to Bosh and Bargnani. Toronto had one of the best offenses in the league that year, and DeRozan was one of the reasons why.
DeRozan’s 8.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game might look pretty ordinary, but making 50% of his shots while deferring to Bosh frequently served as a preview of one of the most dominant careers of any shooting guard drafted in the decade.
DeMar DeRozan set the tone for an impressive Raptors career.
By the end of his career in Toronto, DeRozan scored more points than anyone else in franchise history, and he accentuated that by averaging at least 20 points per game in five straight seasons and presiding over a good chunk of the most successful stretch of basketball in Raptors history.
If Barnes ends up being half of the player DeMar was and having half of the positive impact on the franchise that DeRozan had, Toronto will be thrilled with their selection. Before DeRozan was a dominant scorer with a legit Hall of Fame case, he was just a stringy 20-year-old guard trying to make a name for himself under Jay Triano.