The 12 Greatest Raptors in history, ranked by Player Efficiency Rating (PER)

Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors / Tom Szczerbowski/GettyImages
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The Toronto Raptors have been around for less than three decades, but that doesn't mean they lack star power or notable names. Nine players in franchise history have made All-Star games, while a number of other players played key roles on good teams.

One way to evaluate players is to pick one objective standard and rank them accordingly. You could look at the top scorers by total points, for example; DeMar DeRozan easily sits atop that list. You could order players by the number of games they won with the Raptors' franchise; Kyle Lowry leads the way for total games won.

A more holistic approach would be to pick a statistic that combines multiple statistics from a player, positive and negative, to determine their overall impact on team success. One such statistic is called Player Efficiency Rating, or PER, developed by former Memphis Grizzlies VP John Hollinger. It measures a player's impact and assigns a score; the higher the score, the better a player's overall impact.

If we look at every player in Toronto Raptors history, which players are the best ever in terms of PER?

Markquis Nowell is the greatest Raptor ever?

We immediately come to the realization that some further fencing is required to properly use this metric to find the greatest players in franchise history. Going purely by best career PER in a Raptors uniform, the "best" player in franchise history becomes Markquis Nowell, a 5'7" point guard who was on a two-way contract with the Raptors just this year. He appeared in a single game, playing four minutes and logging two points, two assists, two points and a steal. Extrapolate that out to a full 36-minute night, and Nowell was on pace for an 18-18-18 triple-double with nine steals.

Nearly anything can happen in a small sample, and the more minutes a player is on the court the more their production will normalize to their career level of play. That is why for career statistics databases like Basketball Reference use a games played minimum; for PER that threshold is 100 games with the franchise.

That robust threshold knocks out Nowell's active four minutes, as well as a number of other players who played well in a handful of games. Interestingly enough it also eliminates Kawhi Leonard, who played just a single season in Toronto but would top the career leaderboard if we dropped the minimum to 60 games with a 25.8 PER in 2018-19 en route to leading the Raptors to the championship.

Now that we have set some ground rules, let's take a look at the history books and rank the 12 greatest Raptors according to Player Efficiency Rating, starting with a couple of well-known guards to Raptors fans.