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The Greatest Raptor Team of All Time - An HQ Perspective

Before we hand out the awards, a few notes on how we arrived at our final 12.

First and foremost it was agreed that all 12 players selected to the squad had to have played more than one full season with the Raptors. The result? Players like Billups, B.J. Armstrong, Mike James and Charlie Villanueva were NOT eligible. Although CV Smooth had one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history, when people look back at his career, he will not be remembered as a Raptor and in all likelyhood he will be remembered as a Buck. Although we debated this rule, primarily because of Mike James, the conclusion was that these one-hit wonders wouldn't make the cut.

Second, we also agreed that of the players chosen, although it was not required that they had their best statistical seasons in Toronto per se, it was required that they did have a major impact on the team and were not completely devoid of skill while here. (Yes, we're talking to you "Dream.")

Finally, we established that our picks weren't necessarily the best group of individuals, but rather the 12 players that we thought would make up the best TEAM, considering position, skill set and intangibles.

And here we go...

Starting Five:

PG: Damon Stoudamire - No question here. Mighty Mouse was the heart and soul of the franchise for its first few years and probably the best pg we've had to date. Not necessarily a traditional pass-first point but he was a blur on offense and right from the get go he could score with the best of them. Although undersized, he's the best option here and we feel comfortable with him at the helm of this mighty ship. However a few solid seasons from TJ Ford could of course threaten his starting bid on the team in the future.

SG: Vince Carter - While he's no longer welcome in these parts, this was the easiest selection. Carter was responsible for putting the Raptors on the NBA map and is still the most gifted offensive player to have ever played for the team. He is the primary scoring threat (whether he wants to be or not, don't worry we have Oak on this team to keep a fire under his a**) and someone any opposing team has to be concerned about. A solid start so far now that our backcourt is set.

SF - Morris Peterson - Mr. Glue, Mo Pete would still get lots of burn with this club and providing that Kevin O'Neal is not coaching this team, this seems like a great fit. Peterson gets his shots when they are available and doesn't force the issue and really, what is a Raptors game without a Mo P "girls gone wild" shot? And finally, we all know that Carter is not going to do the dirty work on the defensive end so you need a Peterson-type playing alongside of him.

PF: Chris Bosh - No comment needed.

C: Marcus Camby - We picked Camby to start over Antonio Davis. Camby's shot-blocking dominance gave him the edge in this defensively challenged starting lineup. He is also a little more athletic and this starting five will want to get up the floor quickly. He is also the only player in this team that will alter shots (doesn't say much for the 5's who have played in this town.) Although the starting five is missing some grit and toughness, that's why we have a bench....

Bench (in order of who would come off first):

SG - Doug Christie - Almost an HQ cut casualty due to his wife but in the end, Christie's defence, 3 point shooting and ability to backup three positions got him on our squad. Christie is under appreciated in Raptor land and with his new clothing company this squad would be dressed for success.

PG - Alvin Williams - What could have been? A healthy Williams may have even been good enough to challenge Stoudamire for the starting point guard role but in any event Williams was a solid defender and crunch-time star, exactly what you'd want from your backup point guard spot. He is also the perfect compliment to Mighty Mouse when outmatched by a bigger PG and both could even be used together at times in the backcourt. In the clutch, Damon would likely find himself on the bench allowing Alvin to throw daggers and in any event, is our pick for seventh man.

C - Antonio Davis - Really blossomed offensively in TO, (lone All-Star appearance as a Rap) and metric system jokes aside, was one of Toronto's most consistent players. When he was here in Toronto (the first time) he was a beast on the offensive glass and you can never have too much rebounding. AD could also spend some time at the PF position alongside Camby giving us the option to go big against certain teams. With him, Bosh and Camby, we feel we have addressed many of our front court needs, and we still have not added...

PF - Charles Oakley - While he was more productive statistically with the Bulls and Knicks, the Oak-tree was a huge part of Toronto's playoff experience and gave Toronto the toughness it needed to compete in the East. Oak was one of the first guys that came to mind when putting this team together. Although we still have nightmares about some of the jump shots he took against Philly back in the day and some of his "passes," he is the kind of guy that would keep this team focused and ensure accountability. He is also willing to give the HARD foul and you could be sure no-one would ever go for 81 points with him on the team, unless they did it with one arm.

SF/PF - Donyell Marshall - This is another player who probably had his best all-around seasons in Toronto. Marshall in his early days looked to be a tweener playing his way out of the NBA but in Toronto, used his outside shooting and inside rebounding ability to the max. This is a player who can really stretch the opposing team's defence and again does a good job on the glass. While he probably won't get a ton of time on this squad, he will essentially play a "Matt Bonner" type role, just A LOT BETTER than Bonner...

SG/SF - Tracy McGrady - The most controversial decision. T-Mac on talent alone should have been the starting 3 on the team. However after much discussion we realized that McGrady never really took his game to that next "dominant" level until he left Toronto. In fact he was fairly invisible for his first few seasons here and it was only right before he bolted for Orlando that fans got to see glimpses of the talent he possessed. We couldn't leave him off the team completely however and knowing how he eventually did develop, just imagine a starting five with Stoudamire, VC, T-MAC, Bosh and well.....anyone with two legs. SICK. On this team however he's the player that rides the pine in hopes that he develops.

SG: Dell Curry - This was a tough call. The final spot was between Jalen Rose (for his "all-interview team" skills), Dee Brown (for his ability to play three positions and long-range capabilities), Mugsy Bogues (third point guard), JYD (hustle and intangibles), Keon Clark (more shot-blocking) and Curry. Curry gets our nod as the last guy off the bench. Many fans remember his clutch shooting and this is what puts him on our squad. We've got a load of 3's and 4's right now so Curry could backup the 2 spot and give Toronto another long-range threat. Curry also had a good mid-range game and was one of the quickest at getting his shot off this side of Detlef Schrempf. A lineup of Alvin Williams, Dell Curry, Vince Carter, Donyell Marshall and Chris Bosh would epitomize the "spreading the court" concept...not to mention that you always need a guy that has a patch of white in his hair....just ask the Pistons.


Lenny Wilkens - While Tracy McGrady's selection may be our most controversial, this one was the toughest. Toronto had the most playoff success ever under Wilkens and his knowledge of the game is unchallenged. But his coaching ability alone gives us reason to pause. But who else to choose?

-Butch Carter - a taskmaster to the max?
-Kevin O'Neil - all defence and broken lamps?
-Brendan Malone - the original Raptors coach?
-Sam Mitchell - great offense no defense?

Not exactly a lot to choose from.

So in the end, we're splitting the difference and taking Wilkens for head coach, with his staff of assistants consisting of O'Neil for defence, Mitchell for offense and Brendan Malone for...well...history. And for can-con, Jay Triano of course. The hope would be that with Oakley, Antonio Davis and Alvin Williams, the team could get its leadership on-court.

And there you have it. The best team of Raps that we here at the HQ can come up with. Disagree with a selection? Are we missing someone? Let us know what 12 Raps would make up your team. Next week we'll be bringing the flip-side...the 12 WORST Raptors of all time...stay tuned...