In the relatively short history of the Toronto Raptors, the team has experienced its fair share of ups and downs since its inception during the 1995-96 NBA season. Even as a fledgling franchise, the Raptors quickly demonstrated their competitiveness, making their playoff debut just four seasons into existence. The team’s resolve strengthened over the years, culminating in 13 playoff appearances and an awe-inspiring NBA championship run during the 2018-19 season.
The Raptors’ success can be attributed to the dazzling array of talent that has graced the court in Toronto over the years. From dazzling, generational talents such as Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Chris Bosh, and Vince Carter to the steadfast pillars of the team whose dedication and longevity cemented their legacy, the Raptors franchise has been home to a rich tapestry of basketball excellence.
Join us as we dive into the annals of Raptors history and explore the ten best players who have donned the Raptors jersey.
Leonard’s tenure with the Raptors was brief but impactful. Despite spending just a single season with the team, he led them to their first and only championship. His trade from the Spurs in July 2018 was a defining moment for the franchise. During his stint, Leonard averaged 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. He cranked up his performance during the playoffs, delivering a stunning performance that earned him the Finals MVP honor. His contribution, although short-lived, firmly imprinted him as one of the franchise’s greatest players.
The Raptors’ first overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, Bargnani, may not have fully realized his potential, but his contributions remain noteworthy. The Italian power forward logged seven seasons with the Raptors, scoring 6,581 points (fifth in franchise history), 382 blocks (sixth), and 2,095 rebounds (eighth). Bargnani’s tenure may not have been stellar, but it was undeniably solid.
The Lithuanian center is amid a remarkable NBA career, leaving his mark on the Raptors during his seven seasons with the team. Even before reaching his prime, Valanciunas was a formidable offensive and defensive player, recording 5,524 points (eighth in franchise history), 3,961 rebounds (second), and 479 blocks (third). His Player Efficiency Rating of 19.7 places him fifth in the franchise’s history.
Calderon, the Spanish point guard, spent eight seasons with the Raptors. He consistently delivered performances, earning the respect and admiration of the Toronto fanbase. Calderon’s stats reflect his commitment – he ranks fourth in franchise history in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) at 14.4, second in assists (3,770), seventh in steals (469), and ninth in points (5,235).
Despite his relatively small stature, Steady Freddy’s dedication and relentless effort have placed him among the franchise’s top players. His stats speak volumes: he ranks in the franchise’s top 10 in points scored (6,090), assists (2,199), steals (562), Win Shares (32.5), and VORP (13.72). VanVleet’s tenacity was instrumental in the 2018-19 championship run of the Raptors.
Pascal Siakam’s NBA journey has been gradual progress and eventual superstardom. The initial years saw Siakam struggle to adapt to the league, resulting in two unremarkable seasons. However, the 2018-19 season marked a turning point in his career as he morphed into a dynamic force on the court. Today, Siakam boasts an impressive record, placing among the top 10 in the Raptors’ franchise history regarding VORP, total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
Siakam is known for his relentless pursuit of improvement, honing his skills year after year. If he continues on this trajectory, he could potentially claim the title of the best player in the Raptors’ history. One of his most memorable performances was in game one of the 2019 NBA Finals, where he demonstrated his offensive prowess by shooting a remarkable 14-17 from the field.
NBA Hall of Famer Chris Bosh is another titan in the annals of Raptors’ history. Bosh spent seven seasons with the Raptors, establishing the groundwork for a brilliant career. Known as “Boshasaurus,” Bosh averaged 20.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 0.8 steals per game during his tenure.
In terms of franchise records, Bosh sits first in rebounds (4,776) and blocks (600), second in Win Shares (61.8), third in VORP (19.6), third in points (10,275), ninth in steals (397), and tenth in assists (1,115). Although he did not lead the team to a championship, Bosh’s contributions were pivotal in shaping the Raptors’ competitive spirit.
DeMar DeRozan, affectionately known as “Deebo” by fans, holds the prestigious title of the Raptors’ all-time leader in points, having scored an impressive 13,296 points over nine seasons, with an average of 19.7 points per game. His peak came during the 2016-17 season when he averaged a remarkable 27.3 points.
DeRozan is the Raptor’s career leader in games played (675), field goals (4716), and points scored (13,296), but his impact on the Raptors was not limited to scoring. He also ranks third in assists (2,078) and steals (655) and sixth in rebounds (2,739). While DeRozan fell just shy of securing a championship ring with the Raptors, his departure paved the way for Kawhi Leonard’s arrival and the subsequent championship victory.
Despite being selected by the Golden State Warriors with the fifth overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, Vince Carter never set foot on the court for the Warriors. Instead, he was traded to the Toronto Raptors for Antawn Jamison and cash, setting the stage for one of the most memorable tenures in the Raptors’ history.
Over seven seasons, Carter made six All-Star game appearances and played in 403 games. He averaged 23.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game, showcasing his all-around talent. His Player Efficiency Rating of 21.8 and Value Over Replacement Player Rating of 26.1 underscore his significant contribution to the franchise.
Discussing the greatest Raptors players without mentioning Kyle Lowry would be impossible. Throughout nine seasons, Lowry etched his name into Raptors’ history, leading the franchise in VORP (31.6), Win Shares (74.5), assists (4,277), and steals (873). He also ranks second in points (10,540) and third in rebounds (2,954).
Lowry’s contributions extended beyond the stat sheets, as he was instrumental in guiding the Raptors to their first NBA Championship in the 2018-19 season. Lowry’s trade to the Miami Heat was a moment of heartbreak for many fans, a testament to his profound impact on the franchise and its supporters.