clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ranking Every Raptor: Successful Role-Fillers & an Italian Guy — #60 - 31

New, comments

Part six of Ranking Every Raptor finally brings us to some actually good players! Star reserves dominate the day, with a little pasta and sauce mixed in.

Jerome Williams drives Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

We’re into the top-50! You know the deal by now. We’re ranking every player to have worn a Raptors uniform between 1995 and the end of the 2017-18 season. This post is really long, so we’ll just get down to it.

218 - 181 | 180 - 151 | 150 - 121 | 120 - 91 | 90 - 61

60. Lindsey Hunter, PG (2002-2003); 29 GP / 23.2 points / 9.7 points / 2.4 rebounds / 1.2 assists

As has become tradition, we lead today’s section off with a guy that I probably should have put in the previous post. Hunter was a nice bench gunner for an abbreviated stretch, reaching double-digit points in 12 of his 29 games with the team. He should probably be 10 or 15 spots lower, though. I’m bad at organizing my thoughts, folks.

59. Corliss Williamson, SF (2000-2001); 42 GP / 31 starts / 9.3 points / 3.6 rebounds / 0.8 assists / 47.1 FG%

Williamson wasn’t with the Raptors long enough to really flex his super-reserve muscles. In fact, the 2001-02 Sixth Man of the Year started three quarters of his games in the purple, white and black. He gets a boost because of the guy the Raptors ended up trading him for: Jerome Williams. We’ll get to him shortly.

58. Jerryd Bayless, PG (2010-2012); 91 GP / 25 starts / 10.5 points / 2.4 rebounds / 3.9 assists / 38.1 FG%

Bayless is probably a top-five Raptor from the post-Bosh / pre-Casey era. Happy Monday, everyone.

57. Mark Jackson, PG (2000-2001); 54 GP / 54 starts / 8.5 points / 9.2 rebounds / 1.2 rebounds

56. Muggsy Bogues, PG (1999-2000); 83 GP / 5 starts / 21.3 minutes / 4.9 points / 3.7 assists / 1.7 rebounds

55. Chris Childs, PG (2001-2002); 95 GP / 4 starts / 22.4 minutes / 4.2 points / 2.3 rebounds / 4.9 assists / 1 godawful mistake!

Ah, the triumvirate of 30-something point guards who had no real business playing ahead of Alvin Williams. There’s an argument to be made that Jackson’s raw statistical achievements with the team should have him higher than Muggsy or Childs. But that would disregard the fact that he was basically a slow version of Kings-era Rajon Rondo when he was with Toronto. Those assist numbers ain’t fooling anyone.

Childs also has a case to be placed a little higher on the list than his two counterparts. He was part of the team’s most successful playoff run to that point, and followed that up by being a cog in the Raptors’ inspiring, Vince-less run to the playoffs down the stretch of the 2001-02 season.

Alas, he gets slotted alongside Jackson because of that time he forgot the Raptors were down by three in the dying seconds of Game 5 against Detroit in 2002. It’s easier this way for my brain to clump them together, anyway, since Bogues and Jackson were traded for Childs at the 2002 deadline.

54. Andrea Bargnani, SF(lolol)/PF/C (2006-2013); 433 GP / 316 starts / 15.2 points / 4.8 rebounds / 1.3 assists / 0.9 blocks / 13 games where there was hope

Bargs has been, by far, the most difficult ex-Raptor to rank; it’s been an exercise in balancing emotions with rationality. I deeply wanted to stick Bargs and his stupid face somewhere in the 100s, in or around the Primoz Brezec / Patrick O’Bryant range. But then you glance at the all-time stats charts, and what he looked like at his very best, and it becomes impossible not to slot him closer to the top-50 than I’m frankly comfortable with.

Bargnani’s actual on-court ability is probably overlooked in the interest of therapeutic sports fan wallowing. He’s certainly not the worst first-overall pick ever, probably not even one of the ten worst. He may be the most damaging though. Most top picks who blow end up getting cut, or traded, or having their soul sucked out by a dark teal clad Michael Jordan. In Bargnani’s case, his big numbers and decidedly excellent early-career shooting splits were enough to trick an easily tricked man into dishing out a 5-year / $50 million.

It was never going to work out — not if the Raptors had designs on being actually good. Bargnani’s lone stretch of helping to achieve winning basketball came as a bench piece in his rookie year. Watching a seven-footer sub in and can 37 percent of his triples in year one was genuinely exciting. The following year, one that ended in a lifeless five-game loss to Orlando, saw Bargs noticeably regress. Then came the small forward experiments, the sub-10 percent rebounding rates, the injuries, the pasta commercials, the 22-60 record with him as The Guy. Over the life of his second contract, his most notable contribution to Raptors canon was the short-lived Basketball Jones all-star campaign he inspired before getting hurt, again.

To this day it remains supremely fucking funny that Masai Ujiri got a first-round pick for him like three days after the took the GM job.

53. PJ Tucker. SF/PF (2006-2007 & 2017); 41 GP / 4 starts / 4.1 points / 3.7 rebounds / 40.0 3FG% / 2 large testicles / 1 foot on the three-point line

Yeah, you’re goddamned right I put Tucker — the Raptors’ second-round pick in the Bargs draft — ahead of Bargnani. Primo Pasta never produced a moment of ecstasy as intense as when Tucker ripped the ball out of Isaiah Thomas’ little baby hands in the fourth quarter of his first game in Toronto after not sleeping the night before. Tucker then had the audacity to say what everyone else had been thinking for about seven years, and call DeMar DeRozan’s defense out during the ensuing post-game scrum. Imagine how offended PJ must have been by Bargs’ lateral quickness back in ‘06.

52. Leandro Barbosa, SG (2010-2012); 100 GP / 0 starts / 23.4 minutes / 12.8 points / 1.8 rebounds / 1.8 assists / 11.1 FGA / 44.4 FG%

Very few players in the Triano era were any fun to watch. Blur is one of the exceptions.

51. Dell Curry, SG (1999-2002); 194 GP / 14 starts / 6.7 points / 1.4 rebounds / 1.2 assists / 39.0 3FG%

Curry’s role over three years in Toronto resembled a hybrid between last year’s CJ Miles and Steve Novak’s in 2013-14. It’s a little curious then, that he was on the floor for Vince Carter’s infamous missed buzzer-beater against the Sixers in Game 7 back in 2001. It’s even more curious that Curry, a career 40.2 percent three-point shooter, was the inbound man on the play, and not a must-respect decoy being run off a simple screen or something. Lenny Wilkens, man.

50. Popeye Jones, C (1996-1998); 93 GP / 65 starts / 29.8 minutes / 7.9 points / 8.4 rebounds / 1.1 assists / 46.7 FG%

I’ve revealed very little about my criteria for ranking all these players, mostly because I’m making shit up on the fly most of the time. One thing I can definitively put out there, though, is that any player who averages more rebounds than points earns an express pass to my heart. It’s not easy in this points-per-game society we’ve constructed to do as Popeye Jones did and prioritize grime over glamour. As the NBA skew smaller each year, and the stats boys further denounce offensive rebounding as a hindrance to team defense, inverted-stats heroes like Jones are facing an existential threat. At this rate, it is the Joneses of the world who will replace the Giannises and Kristapses as the NBA’s true unicorns. That would be lame as hell.

49. Jakob Poeltl, C (2016-2018); 136 GP / 4 starts / 5.4 points / 4.1 rebounds / 1.8 offensive rebounds / 0.9 blocks / 64.1 FG% / 1 homicide performed on Tim Hardaway Jr.

This summer Jakob Poeltl graduated from “guy the Raptors got for Andrea Bargnani” to “guy the Raptors sacrificed to get Kawhi freaking Leonard.” No ex-Raptor has been part of a more noble trade tree.

P.S. Remember when he dunked on the Hawks? That shit ruled.

48. Bismack Biyombo, C (2015-2016); 82 GP / 22 starts / 5.5 points / 8.0 rebounds / 1.6 blocks

It’s probably Biz, Tucker and Pops Mensah-Bonsu you’re choosing between if you’re trying to pick the most universally beloved Raptor who played one season or less in Toronto. Biyombo wasn’t supposed to be anything, really. Masai Ujiri picked him up a few days into the 2015 free agent window for the bi-annual exception, and it was expected he’d compete with Lucas Nogueira for back-up minutes at the five.

An early season Jonas Valanciunas injury presented an opportunity, and Biyombo did with it what he couldn’t as a lottery pick in Charlotte. Lowry & The Bench Mob was born that season, with Biyombo serving as the lively roll-man and defensive anchor. Did he miss his fair share of dunks and lay-ups? Yeah ... to the extent that our pals at Raptors Republic had a missed bunny counter running all year. But not even those Tie Domi ass hands prevented him from dropping 17 points in Game 7 against Miami, or from grabbing 26 immortality-sealing rebounds in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. He played himself miles outside of the Raptors price range, right before the most irresponsible summer of spending the league’s ever seen. Orlando probably regrets giving Biz $70 million over four years. But he earned every damn penny.

Oh, and it was a fucking block.

47. Rasho Nesterovic, C (2005-2007 & 2009-2010); 193 GP / 120 starts / 18.5 minutes / 6.3 points / 4.1 rebounds / 0.9 assists / 0.8 blocks

Rasho was routinely the slowest and least talented Raptor on the floor. He was also exceptionally competent at playing centre. As the man who brought much needed Hoffa reprieve upon his arrival, his propensity for not screwing up earns him a top-50 spot.

46. Delon Wright, PG (2015-2018); 123 GP / 5 starts / 6.6 points / 2.3 rebounds / 2.3 assists / 0.9 steals / 1,000,000 Euro Steps

With each and every Euro step, Delon Wright will continue climb these rankings. Toronto has a lot of entertaining, unique and fun players, but Wright might be the most thrilling of the bunch when he’s at his herky-jerky best.

How much longer he’ll get to dazzle in a Raptors uniform is one of the more interesting under-the-radar questions facing Toronto this year. That extension deadline is creeping up fast.

45. Oliver Miller, C (1995-1996 & 1997-1998); 159 GP / 133 starts / 9.4 points / 6.5 rebounds / 2.8 assists / 50.9 FG%

Part of what makes the NBA so vibrant and is the variable styles with which players ply their trade; homogenization of skills is one of the great threats lurking about the modern NBA. That said, some archetypes are objectively better than others, and it maybe wouldn’t totally be the worst thing if players with cool skill-sets starting replacing the boring ass, three-and-D, nerd porn wings that have overtaken the league.

Oliver Miller’s on-court aesthetic — the portly, dexterous big man — is the exact kind of thing I’m talking about. There’s a reason Boris Diaw is universally loved. Something about the chunky big fella that can whip a skip pass from the low post or move aside a gangling white stiff with a cellulite-encrusted behind for a lay-up endears that player to those who let their physical limitations cap their sporting potential. Miller, a man who pushed 300 at times during his career, opted not to let his unfavorable BMI interfere with his goals, and instead crafted an NBA career for himself — the highlight of which was his first season in Toronto, and more specifically, his beautiful performance in the Raptors’ win over the 72-win Bulls. Look at this big, healthy, stretch-pass tossing boy.

44. Kevin Willis, PF/C (1998-2000); 156 GP / 48 starts / 9.1 points / 6.8 rebounds / 0.9 assists / 42.6 FG% / Was old as hell!

It’s good to know your limitations. As someone born at the start of the 1992-93 season — or, Kevin Willis’ ninth year as a pro — I’ve enlisted HQ head honcho Dan Reynolds to detail Willis’ time with the up-and-coming Raptors from 1998 to 2000.

Willis joined the Raptors at a critical juncture. The team had just had its worst season in franchise history (16-66!), and there was little reason to assume they’d ever find any credibility. Enter the impossibly huge and muscled Willis at the spry age of 36. Sure, Toronto traded two first round picks to get him (it was a different time) — yet they were in such dire need of actual NBA professionals it didn’t matter.

Willis joined the incoming Charles Oakley and, eventually, Antonio Davis, to form the toughest frontcourt trio the franchise has ever had. The Raptors would go on to have their first taste of success, challenging for a playoff spot in 1999, making the post-season in 2000, and then in 2001, after trading Willis mid-season (for Keon Clark!!), getting to the second round. Now, most of that had to do with Vince Carter being on the team, but I contend there was a ton of value in having an NBA veteran as seasoned as Willis around. He wouldn’t pass the ball once it went into him in the post, but dammit he worked hard and he helped set the tone the franchise needed to push forward. That Willis somehow went on to appear in five more seasons after leaving Toronto, retiring at age 44(!!!), just adds to his legend.

43. Jamario Moon, SF (2007-2009); 132 GP / 114 starts / 26.9 minutes / 8.0 points / 5.6 rebounds / 1.2 assists / 1.1 steals / 1.2 blocks

Bryan Colangelo has not fared well in these rankings. In fact, there’s an angry email in my inbox complaining about my assessment of him in part five of the rankings that I’m pretty convinced his wife wrote. But credit where it’s due: BC could really sign a random dude who’d eventually turn into something on the Raptors.

Moon spent seven years playing sorta pro ball (including for the freaking Globetrotters) after leaving Meridian Community College in 2001 before the Raptors gave him a look. And damnit if he wasn’t awesome when given the chance. Kawhi Leonard is about to overtake his title as the best defensive small forward in team history, but it was a hell of a run for Moon at the top.

Also on his list of accomplishments: spawning a TSN-endorsed nickname contest (Super Jamario > Apollo 33), a super rad lefty, off-the-bounce, free-throw line dunk contest jam that was way better than Dwight Howard’s gimmicky Superman bullshit, and inspiring the first and only Raptors HQ offshoot site, Jamario-MoonHQ.com. Yes, that’s apparently a thing we did.

Anyway, it was really dumb that Moon got sent to Miami in the O’Neal / Marion trade. Him sticking around could have been a roadblock to the Hedo signing. Even good Colangelo things become bad Colangelo things in time.

42. Carlos Rogers, PF (1995-1998); 130 GP / 21 starts / 21.5 minutes / 8.4 points / 4.1 rebounds / 1.0 blocks / 52.1 FG%

Another old guy guest post from our pal Dan Grant!

The geriatric bat-phone has rung yet again!

Carlos Rogers is best known as a member of the inaugural Raptors team and for starting their first game in 1995-96. However, his road to wearing the purple and pinstripes was a convoluted one that begins with the O.G. Alonzo Anderson himself, B.J. Armstrong.

Armstrong, now a player agent, was the first player selected in the expansion draft by the fledgling Raptors. The three-time champion and recent all-star immediately refused to report and was dealt by Toronto to the Golden State Warriors for a whopping five players (two of whom never suited up for the Raptors, and another of whom — Dwayne Whitfield — played only 8 games. Inspiring stuff from Isiah Thomas here.), including Rogers, who had been drafted 11th overall by the Supersonics just one year prior and shortly thereafter dealt to the Bay area.

Rogers had some skills on paper but wound up as a below-average back-up big-man, who at times flashed an inside-outside game that probably would have been better suited to today’s NBA. His offensive skills tantalized but he was a poor rebounder for his size and foul-prone on the defensive end, despite being a decent rim protector. He played a key reserve role behind Marcus Camby and Popeye Jones in 1996-97, at 24.9 minutes per game, while shooting 38% from three, no small feat for a 6’11 player in the 90’s. Notably -- that team went 16-66. Rogers missed 52 games over two seasons due to injury and then was part of the Damon Stoudamire trade early in 1997-98, heading back West to Portland.

41. Norman Powell, SG (2015-2018); 195 GP / 60 starts / 6.6 points / 2.0 rebounds / 1.1 assists / 32.4 3FG% / Two Raptors Playoff Asses Saved

Within a year of being drafted, Norman Powell provided Raptors fans three things they’d rarely experienced in the two-plus decades prior to his selection in the 2015 draft. 1) A Raptors second-round pick that didn’t blow ass. 2) A trade in which they quite obviously fleeced the opposing team (the Bargs trade notwithstanding here), and 3) a shooting guard that didn’t wet himself in critical playoff moments.

There are a few other contenders, but Norm’s dunk against the Pacers in Game 5 against Indy in the 2016 first round is probably the most notable playoff moment Toronto’s produced in the last five years of post-season play.

His contract looks like it might be odious now, but if ever there’s a guy who deserved to get paid for what he’s done as opposed to what he’s going to do, it’s Norm. The trajectory of the entire franchise might have veered into dark territory without him saving their asses in that series — not to mention the three-point barrage he dropped on the Bucks after Dwane Casey put him in the starting lineup against the Bucks a year later.

40. James Johnson, SF (2011-2012 & 2014-2016); 214 GP / 114 starts / 7.6 points / 3.7 rebounds / 1.7 / 0.8 steals / 1.0 blocks / 49.8 FG%

Dwane Casey is a genuinely nice and good person. As Toronto’s coach, he gave guys young and old opportunities to carve out roles, arguably giving some of them too much rope to run with.

So whatever James Johnson did to piss off Dwane Casey, it must have been big. During his second stint with the team, Johnson’s imprint on the team slowly receded, from super-sub and spot starter, to joint cock-backer, to emergency playoff noodle tossed at the wall, to sage numbers-evener in young dude 3-on-3 games. Maybe it was his erratic style of play, where a fresh dime was always just as likely as a boneheaded turnover or bricked three. It could have just been that he just got kinda pudgy. Whatever it was, it caused Casey to spurn him almost entirely by the end — which I suppose is in itself an accomplishment on JJ’s part; we’re talking about the coach who started Luis Scola 70-something times.

39. Ed Davis, PF/C (2010-2013); 176 GP / 50 starts / 24.0 minutes / 7.7 points / 6.8 rebounds / 1.0 blocks / 58.5 FG%

No Raptor’s legacy has been jobbed by the era in which he played for the team more than Boss Davis’. Drafted to play the position Chris Bosh would vacate just days later, Davis’ ability was always going to be measured in relation to his predecessor. My unrefined basketball fan brain certainly fell into that trap — I’m guessing yours did, too. And that’s totally unfair!

Had Davis been on any of the good Raptors teams of the last few years, his steadiness, rebounding and general Boss-ness would have him in the Jerome Williams / Bismack Biyombo tier of all-time Raptors fan favourites. The Blazers were indefensibly dumb to let him go this summer.

38. Pascal Siakam, PF (2016-2018); 136 GP / 43 starts (yeesh those were rough) / 18.7 minutes / 6.0 points / 4.0 rebounds / 1.3 assists / 50.6 FG%

38. OG Anunoby, SF (2017-2018); 74 GP / 62 starts / 5.9 points / 2.5 rebounds / 0.7 assists / 0.7 steals / 37.1 FG% / 1 Scrotum Brandished in Game 3 vs. Cleveland

Kawhi Leonard is on the Raptors, and so are Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. In the lead up to the trade this summer, it really felt like it was an either/or kind of thing. On the updated rankings a few years from now, it wouldn’t be shocking if all three of these guys who play on the same team (!) are in the top-15. Kawhi Leonard is on the Raptors, and so are Pascal and OG.

36. Jorge Garbajosa, SF/PF (2006-2008)’ 74 GP / 60 starts / 8.0 points / 4.7 rebounds / 1.7 assists / 1.1 steals

Toronto fans have endured a lot of heartbreak over the years. There is no event in the team’s 23 year existence that makes me sadder upon reflection than Garbo’s season-ending leg injury suffered in Boston in 2007.

Colangelo and Mauricio Gherardini nailed the early days of their Euro-focused reconstruction of the roster. Joining the Raps fresh off Spain’s 2006 FIBA World Cup gold medal, Garbo’s 67-game run as a 29-year-old rookie was one of the sweetest treats in a season full of unexpected delights. It’s a crime he didn’t get to take part in the 2007 post-season.

The premature end to his career served not only as a hit to the Raptors, but to the “NBA players who look like they smoke on the bench between quarters” market. Thank god for Milos Teodosic.

35. Carlos Delfino, SG (2007-2008); 82 GP / 23.5 minutes / 9.0 points / 4.4 rebounds / 1.8 assists / 3.8 3FGA / 38.2 3FG%

For a team that’s still been more bad than good since its inception, the Raptors sure have had a shit load of good bench units and players. Though the member of Argentina’s golden generation spent just one year with the Raptors, Delfino might just fill the starting two guard spot on the Raptors All-Bench team.

34. Voshon Lenard, SG (2002-2003); 63 GP / 24 starts / 30.6 minutes / 14.3 points / 3.4 rebounds / 2.3 assists / 36.5 3FG%

The first Le(o)nard to wear number 2 for the Raptors!

Voshon in video game form is about the most unstoppable player of all time, save for Terrence Ross. It’s fitting considering Lenard had what Ross’ career should have been.

Terry’s still got time.

33. John Wallace, SF (1997-1999); 130 GP / 39 starts / 12.0 points / 4.2 rebounds / 1.2 assists / 0.6 steals / 1.1 blocks / 46.3 FG% / 1-of-2 on threes in 3173 minutes

Toronto was not exactly a poppin’ destination in the eyes of mid-90s NBA players, understandably so. Canada was new to the NBA, yet to be unearthed as the superb hang it is, and the team sucked an inordinate amount of ass in its first couple years. If there’s one thing the Raptors did offer players that few other locales did, though, it was the chance to put up some good old contract-earning inflated stats.

Wallace’s NBA career was mostly unremarkable. In his five non-Toronto years in the league, he never played more than 13.2 minutes or scored more than 5.9 points a night. With Toronto, he played more than 24 minutes a night and was a necessary purveyor of bench buckets. His two years with Toronto yielded a three-year / $7 million contract, nearly 70 percent of his career earnings.

“Toronto: The Land of Low Leverage Bucket$,” the billboards should have said.

32. Jerome Williams, PF (2001-2003); 180 GP / 107 starts / 7.9 points / 7.0 rebounds / 1.1 assists / 1.3 steals / 49.7 FG%

When you think of the prototypical guy who Raptors fans will unconditionally love, JYD is what you envision. He was part of two of the most successful and likable teams Toronto’s ever seen — the 2001 second-round loser and the 2001-02, Vince-less underdog squad that nearly pulled off a first round win over Detroit. He was an outstanding defender; the kind of early 2000s big who could have hung with opposing wings had he played in a more modern, switch-heavy era. And he literally barked at people like a dog.

I was one of the millions who fell in love with JYD. After watching the Raptors win Game 6 against Philly in ‘01 at the ACC — a game in which JYD played 18 minutes and scored just two points but was a +21 off the bench — seven year old Sean coerced his grandpa into buying him a purple headband off a seedy, merch-hucking fellow in the Union Station concourse. It was JYD’s bald, headband-clad dome I had in mind when I wore it to gym class at school the next day. Yes, I got teased ferociously.

31. Rudy Gay, SF (2013); 51 GP / 50 starts / 19.5 points / 6.8 rebounds / 2.6 assists / 1.7 steals / 0.9 blocks / 41.1 FG% / 1 Franchise-revitalizing trade involved in

Rudy Gay time in Toronto gets unjustly bad reviews by Raptors fans. It’s not Rudy’s fault the team’s desperate GM made a move to save his job without first thinking for even a second about how Gay would fit with the like-styled DeMar DeRozan. Gay’s ball dominance brought too much competition for touches and his bad shooting brought too much inefficiency. But his name brought excitement, at least for a brief spell, to a team that had been impossibly irrelevant for the nearly three years since Chris Bosh jetted south. Yes, Gay had a knack for Kobe-esque, lopsided shooting lines; one time he went 4-of-21, 0-of-5 from deep in a game the Raptors somehow won. But he was a real small forward with NBA pedigree, and just enough 2006 draft residue to convince fans the Raptors had finally gotten the right guy from that draft. It’s damning, yes, that the team went on the most electrifying of runs the second he got moved to Sacramento, but that’s again more an indictment for Colangelo’s roster-building than Gay’s individual talents.

Here’s to a more fruitful DeRozan/Gay partnership in San Antonio this season.

******

That’s 190 players ranked! Come back on Wednesday for part seven, where we’ll rank players 30 through 11, followed by the top-10 next Monday.