Naaah, too many doubters.
If anything, likely under-hyped when he was drafted.
Not much hype there.
Maybe Jermaine O'Neal?
The most recent NBA Theme Day amongst us SB Nation bloggers was meant to examine hype. Specifically, we were asked to write about the most-hyped player in franchise history as either a rookie or free agent acquisition. He may have fallen short of expectations, or potentially lived up to said hype.
While I think that's indeed a great topic, it's not exactly an easy write for the Toronto Raptors.
Eventual stars like Damon Stoudamire and Vince Carter didn't have huge expectations laid out for them. Other top draft picks like Charlie Villanueva and Chris Bosh weren't even coveted by fans compared to the other draft options present (players like Danny Granger and LeBron James were more desirable options in the view of the majority.) And I'm not sure free agent signings like Hedo Turkoglu and Jermaine O'Neal quality either, as despite some anticipation surrounding their acquisition, there were also a good number of dissenters regarding the deals.
Hoffa? Forget it.
Even Andrea Bargnani, while hyped due to his draft status, was hardly Greg Oden in terms of a player who seemed to be a sure-fire thing.
In fact, going through the Dinos' history I think you'll find that the most successful moves (drafting Morris Peterson, trading for Keon Clark, nabbing Dell Curry etc) have been under the radar ones while the ones that potentially carried the most hype (acquiring Jalen Rose or Rudy Gay etc), haven't had their max luster. When acquired, these bigger name players were coming to the team either on the downside of their careers, or with major question marks.
So where does that leave us?
And TJ Ford might also be an option. I'm not sure he was ever viewed as a potential franchise saviour, but his acquisition was met with a great deal of excitement.
But I'm going with another option all together, someone who never actually played a game for the Toronto Raptors.
As I poured through the relatively young history of this franchise I realized that the biggest excitement surrounding this club since Vince Carter, JYD, Alvin Williams and co. all re-signed back in 2001, was the arrival in 2006 of the then executive of the year, the architect of the "Seven Seconds or Less" Phoenix Suns, the man we once dubbed the LegoMaster...
...yes, Mr. Bryan Colangelo.
To say fans, myself included, were smitten would be an understatement. His arrival seemed to mark a new beginning for the franchise, especially after the dark period known as the Rob Babcock era.
Colangelo was viewed as the Golden Boy, the one who could do no wrong, and this status was only cemented when he immediately grabbed the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, held onto Chris Bosh, and made a number of fan-favourite moves like shipping Rafael Araujo as far away from Toronto as possible.
Oh. And that Atlantic Division crown in his rookie season didn't hurt.
Hype appeared to have met reality and while that didn't last, there's no question in my mind that Colangelo's arrival brought forth more excitement and anticipation than that of any player on the Raptors, past or present.
(For further proof you likely don't have to look much further than the legion of fans, not to mention media, who continued to believe in the hype, backing him up until his firing despite a win-loss record that in the end, wasn't that much different than that of his predecessor, Mr. Babcock.)
"Hype" in fact is likely one of the words that will likely be used to remember the Colangelo era, as some of the more "hyped" moves in franchise history, at least by management, happened on his watch. From JO to Marion to Hedo to Gay, there was always a "next big thing" for Colangelo, none of which worked out as he anticipated.
The torch passes to Masai Ujiri now as he prepares to embark on a relatively "hypeless" season, in which very few fans and media pundits are talking about the Toronto Raptors.
Which maybe isn't such a bad thing?