Despite being one of the younger franchises in the NBA, the Raptors have history. In fact, it sometimes feels impossible they’re only now entering their 23rd year. The ups and downs of the franchise, the drama of its existence, have been that significant. This makes discussing the Raptors’ past both painful... and a lot of fun.
It was announced this morning that NBA 2K18, the newest version of the popular basketball video game that gets real NBA players pissed off about the representation of their digital selves, will feature teams made up of each NBA franchise’s best players in history. For some, e.g. the Celtics and Lakers, this poses a fascinating existential debate involving all kinds of different players from a plethora of eras.
For the Raptors, it’s all about taking the smattering of best players who survived in Toronto long enough to make a positive impression.
So then, who makes the All-Time Raptors team? Assuming we’re filling out a roster of 15 players — that’s right, we’re nailing down the IR and everything — my take on it goes something like this:
The best player during the latest iteration of the Raptors, the leader of a team that went from an afterthought to a modest powerhouse in the Eastern Conference, Lowry is an absolute basketball savant, and definitely the guy you want in charge of a superstar team. It’s true.
Complicated history aside, he’s the best player the franchise has ever had. At his peak, unequivocally, a top-5 player in the league. Let’s just remember the good times.
The McGrady era in Toronto never really got started, to be honest. He put up 15.3 points per game in his last season with the Raps, had a mini-breakout in the playoffs and then decamped for Orlando. But still: T-Mac is very good.
Bosh was a legit beast in the post for a few years, then developed a three-point shot too just to stay current. He can move the ball, and is a smart defender of multiple positions. Bosh’s career got lost in the LeBron-Wade Heat era, and was sadly cut too short, but he’s definitely an all-timer for Toronto.
There will always be a place for the brute force of Davis. Yes, even in the modern NBA. I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.
The ultimate teammate, and the kind of point guard you want around to push your starter to play at his absolute best (which is a real thing Jose has managed to inadvertently do his entire career — even with Lowry!).
The forgotten man in Raptors history, but a stronger perimeter defender and better shooter than you remember (or maybe that’s nostalgia playing tricks on my mind). It’s kind of unfortunate that when you Google his name most of the search results are about his, uh, interesting marriage.
You could absolutely argue that, owing to DeRozan’s longevity, he should get the starting nod over McGrady. DeRozan is dedicated to Toronto, which is also a point in his favour. I’ll leave this debate for the historians (and comment section) to decide.
Amir did a yeoman’s effort during arguably the saddest stretch in Raptors history. Then he finally got to taste some of the highs of the playoffs — during which he played his ass off on one leg — and was then shown the door. You want to go to war with Amir in his prime, is my point.
The large adult son of the Toronto Raptors. Do not @ me.
Oak is my favourite Raptor of all time so he makes the team. Give me one behind the back pass per game, a few 18-footers, and, sure, swing an elbow at somebody’s head. I’m already giddy.
It’s easy to forget that Stoudamire won the Rookie of the Year award 43 years ago. Feels like only—wait, what’s that? It happened in 1996?! Good lord.
Not much of a tenure in Toronto yet, but the body of work speaks for itself.
Not many people know this, but Mo Pete appeared in 1,453 straight games for the Raptors. What a legend.
My feelings on Alvin Williams are this: he was an overmatched player for most of his time in Toronto, but he continued to grind (literally; he has no tissue left in his knees), and made himself a starting NBA point guard. The shot in MSG in 2001 will never be forgotten.
And there it is: your All-Time Toronto Raptors. I’m sure no one will argue any of these selections.