The Toronto Raptors made arguably the best draft-day move in franchise history during the 1998 NBA Draft. In a draft that featured big names like Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and Mike Bibby in the Top 10, Toronto managed to land a franchise cornerstone in the mercurial Vince Carter.
Carter was taken with the No. 5 overall pick and instantly flipped to Toronto. Given the records he set and the impact that he had on the franchise thanks to his ability to leap and pull off highlight-reel dunks, this may have been the best move Glen Grunwald ever made.
On the 100th episode of Darius Miles’ and Quentin Richardson’s “Knuckleheads” podcast, Carter detailed what a nightmare his pre-draft process with Toronto was. Considering all of the things that went wrong during his visit up north, it’s a miracle that the Raptors were still interested.
On top of the fact that his room got canceled and he had a terrible workout after a manager forgot his practice gear, Carter had no idea that the Raptors were interested in him when draft night came. As we know by now, the Golden State Warriors took Carter with the No. 5 overall pick and traded him to Toronto for Antawn Jamison.
Vince Carter was surprised to go to the Toronto Raptors.
Carter revealed that the Warriors had a deal with Toronto to swap him for Jamison. Dallas (who ended up taking the late Robert Traylor) wanted Jamison bad, so the two teams pulled this deal off in order to give Jamison a better contract and send him to Oakland. This deal worked out well for Toronto.
Carter averaged 23.4 points per game during his 6.5 season stint in Toronto. Carter made five All-Star teams with the Raptors while plastering his name all over the record books. To this day, Carter remains in rarified air as one of the best players this team has ever had in their short history.
While he didn’t leave Toronto on the best of terms, he appeared to have largely patched things up with the franchise to the point where he was seen congratulating Scottie Barnes on his Rookie of the Year victory. Jamison had an excellent 16-year career averaging 18.5 points per game, but Carter was the superior player.
If Grunwald didn’t have the scouting acumen that he did, Carter might’ve changed the scope of the NBA with the Warriors while Toronto struggles to compete in the East with Jamison as the focal point. Let’s be thankful that Toronto didn’t buy into that workout.