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Ranking Every Raptor, Version 2.0: The Championship Bump

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The greatest, most triumphant season in Raptors history saw 10 new faces dawn the red, white and black, while some incumbents saw themselves rocket up the list of all-time Raptors. A year after the original Ranking Every Raptor, it’s time for an update.

NBA: Toronto Raptors-Championship Parade John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Holy sweet Bargs things have changed since last we ranked!

Kyle Lowry was crowned the greatest Raptor ever all the way back on October 1st to cap off version 1.0 of this most official of lists. In the intervening 352 days, well, you know what went down. Some supremely good shit happened! Ten brand new players need slotting into the ranks, and a handful of incumbents improved their all-time standing by like, a lot, on the road the championship. That title painted the accomplishments of some Raptors past in a new light, and in some cases tanked their rankings — maybe that’s fair, maybe it’s not, but the effect of Toronto’s shiny new pal Larry O’B on a exercise like this one is inescapable. Even Lowry’s perch up top may be in some jeopardy thanks to a certain Finals MVP-turned-Clipper.

The title has even changed me! No longer do I feel compelled to drag you through screeds on the Tim Kemptons and Sundiata Gaineseses of the world just to satiate my thirst for tedium. Who has time for all that when there’s Raptors championship gear to order, wear and ogle. Nah, this time around we’ll just hit the important guys — newcomers, and the big risers and fallers over the past year.

It’s Ranking Every Raptor, the post-championship edition!

230. Alonzo Morning (2018 Rank — ↑ 220)

229. Kenny Anderson ( ↑ 219)

The title couldn’t change everything. I’m still mad at these two.

228. LaMark Baker ( ↑ 218)

227. William Cunningham ( ↑ 217)

226. Bob McCann ( ↑ 216)

225. Garth Joseph ( ↑ 215)

224. Ed Stokes ( ↑ 214)

223. Rick Brunson ( ↑ 213)

Still a garbage human.

222. Nathan Jawai ( ↑ 212)

221. Antonio Lang ( ↑ 210)

220. Chris Garner ( ↑ 209)

219. Aleksandar Radojevic ( ↑ 208)

218. Uros Slokar ( ↑ 207)

217. Rafael Araujo ( ↑ 206)

216. Ronald Dupree ( ↑ 205)

215. Linton Johnson ( ↑ 204)

214. Hassan Adams ( ↑ 203)

213. Micheal Williams ( ↑ 202)

212. Zendon Hamilton ( ↑ 201)

211. Tim Kempton ( ↑ 200)

210. Earl Cureton ( ↑ 199)

209. Herb Williams ( ↑ 198)

208. Negele Knight ( ↑ 197)

207. ERIC MORELAND (N/A); 4 GP / 1.8 PTS / 4.3 REB / 1.0 AST / 8 Playoff Appearances (?)

Moreland started the 2018-19 season with the Raptors in training camp before becoming one of the casualties of Serge Ibaka’s full-time move to centre and the ensuing front court crunch. However, once the Raptors’ trade deadline dalliance into some light cap circumvention wrapped up, Moreland was added to the roster as the 15th man, first on a 10-day that turned into a full-season deal.

The only remarkable thing he really did was reportedly scream at a reporter in the locker room after not entirely understanding a very obvious joke. How eight Raps playoff games were stress-free enough for him to see floor time is beyond me.

206. Jannero Pargo ( ↑ 196)

205. Austin Daye ( ↑ 195)

204. Mengke Bateer ( ↑ 194)

203. Tyrone Corbin ( ↑ 193)

202. Malachi Richardson ( ↓ 211); 23 GP / 4.7 minutes / 1.4 points / 0.6 rebounds / 48.1 TS%

Richardson earns a nine-spot bump based almost solely on service time. After appearing in just one game after coming to the Raps in exchange for BRUNO at the 2018 deadline, Richardson found the court 22 times this past season, nearly all in garbage time scenarios. The most remarkable stat concerning Richardson’s Toronto tenure: he will receive more championship rings for his Raptors tenure (1) than he dished out assists (0) in his 103 minutes of action with the team.

201. DJ Augustin ( ↑ 192)

200. Sean Marks ( ↑ 191)

199. Brad Lohaus ( ↑ 190)

198. Jake Voskuhl ( ↑ 189)

197. Benoit Benjamin ( ↑188)

196. Roy Rogers ( ↑ 187)

195. Haywoode Workman ( ↑ 186)

194. Jimmy Oliver ( ↑ 185)

193. Julyan Stone ( ↑ 184)

192. Corie Blount ( ↑ 183)

191. Art Long ( ↑ 182)

190. Anthony Bennett ( ↑ 181)

189. Jamaal Magloire ( ↑ 180)

188. Aaron Williams ( ↑ 179)

187. Alfonzo McKinnie ( ↑ 178)

186. Nate Huffman ( ↑ 177)

185. Trey Johnson ( ↑ 176)

184. Lloyd Daniels ( ↑ 175)

183. Robert Archibald ( ↑ 174)

182. Jermaine Jackson ( ↑ 173)

181. Derrick Dial ( ↑ 172)

180. Damone Brown ( ↑ 171)

179. Donald Whiteside ( ↑ 170)

178. Kornel David ( ↑ 169)

177. Vincenzo Esposito ( ↑ 120)

Esposito’s 57-spot drop is the largest of anyone on the list, and it’s all because of my dumb ass thinking too highly of him to begin with. A reminder of last year’s blurb:

For the first time in the ranking process, I’m willing to admit that I’ve made a mistake. Vincenzo Esposito should probably be about 50 spots lower. He stunk. For whatever reason, I had him built up in my mind as a pillar of the inaugural Raptors, offering sound back-up guard play to the exhilarating stylings of rookie-year Damon Stoudamire. In actuality, Esposito was an unconsciously errant gunner who, despite shooting just 23.2 percent from deep, hoisted north of seven threes per 36 minutes ... in the mid-90s. The fault is all mine. I should have know better than to assume an Italian player had success with the Raptors.

He’s rightfully slotted now, and I’ll sleep just the slightest fraction more peacefully.

176. Anthony Carter ( ↑ 168)

175. Lorenzo Brown ( ↑ 131); 40 GP / 2.2 PTS / 1.2 REB / 1.1 AST / Exactly One Memorable Sequence

Another course-correct! I’m brave enough to admit when I’m wrong. I don’t know what the hell got into me when I stuck Brown at spot no. 131 in the inaugural ranking. Maybe I had the G-League MVP weighted too heavily, maybe it was one of those writing nights where I was just feeling just the teeniest bit drunk and generous. Whatever the reason, the mistake has been fixed to reflect how generally bad Brown was when he played.

That said, with the knowledge of how it all ends, it seems pretty silly that Raptors fans once got angsty over the slight over-usage of Lorenzo Brown that Nick Nurse dabbled in early on last season. Nurse was just testing stuff out, trying to navigate the meaningless and ever-winding road that is the regular season for a title contender. And Brown’s presence wasn’t always a negative! Who could forget the 12-second sequence in the fourth quarter against Dallas on October 26th during which Brown canned a three, picked up a steal and threw down a dunk to extend a five-point lead into double-digits. Brown had moments. He’ll surely have more as the James Harden of the G-League in the future.

174. Primoz Brezec ( ↑ 167)

173. Patrick O’Bryant ( ↑ 166)

172. CHRIS BOUCHER (N/A); 28 GP / 5.8 Mins / 3.3 PTS / 2.0 REB / 0.9 BLK / G-League MVP / 16.8 FGA per 36

As much as I’d love for him to be, I’m skeptical that Boucher will ever be a reliable NBA rotation guy. He’s insanely skinny, like if a petite point guard got stuck in one of those torture devices that stretches your limbs.

But maybe regular minutes aren’t Boucher’s calling anyway. In his first season with Toronto, he quickly became one of the most exciting garbage time players in the entire league. His conscience is non-existent. No one dives more headlong into the stake-less waters of a blowout than Boucher. Only Kawhi attempted more shots per 36 minutes for last year’s team. He could very well make his way as darling human victory cigar and it’d be a more than admirable NBA career.

If, however, he can harness the talent that powered him to 27.2 points, 11.4 boards and 4.1 blocks over 28 G-League MVP-winning games, then we could be looking at the leading candidate for biggest riser in next year’s ranking update.

171. Malcolm Miller ( ↑ 163); 25 GP / 2.9 PTS / 0.5 REB / 47.6 3FG%

Injuries have just never allowed Miller to get rolling in Toronto. After getting into just 15 games in year one with the club (including four spot starts), Miller underwent shoulder surgery last summer. By the time he returned, Kawhi and Danny Green were on the team, and any hope of Miller stealing some wing minutes with a strong preseason had been long lost.

Like Boucher, though, there could be a bit of a window for Miller heading into a stress-free 2019-20. Leonard and Green’s departures leave sixty-something minutes unspoken for as of yet. He won’t exactly help with creation, but the 38.4 mark he’s posted from deep in the G-League suggests he could be a useful fourth or fifth wheel in some bench looks. Shit, if Stanley Johnson’s in line for minutes, there’s no reason Miller shouldn’t at least get a shot to figure into the second unit.

170. Eric Montross ( ↑165)

169. Dwight Buycks ( ↑ 164)

168. David Andersen ( ↑ 162)

167. Jason Thompson ( ↑ 161)

166. Alexis Ajinca ( ↑ 160)

165. Nando de Colo ( ↑ 159)

164. Rasual Butler ( ↑ 158)

163. JODIE MEEKS (N/A); 8 GP / 6.4 PTS / 1.5 REB / 44.4 3FG%

The most harrowing moments of the 2019 post-season were not the dying minutes of Game 7 against Philly or the overtimes of Game 3 of the Conference Finals or Klay Thompson’s terrifying pre-injury outburst in the title clincher. No, they were the four minute segments where Jodie Meeks would hit the floor with the bench in the first half dozen games of the run. I’m cold.

162. John Long ( ↑ 157)

161. Michael Curry ( ↑ 156)

160. Greg Foster ( ↑ 155)

158. Chris Jefferies ( ↑ 154)

157. Dominic McGuire ( ↑ 153)

163. PATRICK MCCAW (N/A); 26 GP / 1 Start / 2.7 PTS / 1.7 REB / 1.0 AST / That Three in the Finals

We all should have known the Raptors were shoe-ins for the title when during Game 1 of the Finals, with the score 85-81 Toronto in the dying minutes of the third, Patrick McCaw not only eagerly stepped into a catch-and-shoot three, but canned it.

McCaw was the anti-Boucher. Upon joining the Raptors he took Lorenzo Brown’s shot fright to an even more frozen extreme. Attempting fewer than six shots per 36 minutes is hard to do. McCaw did it with room to spare.

He still apparently did enough in the eyes of the bosses to earn a two-year / $8 million deal from the Raptors. I do not expect a meteoric rise up the rankings, but I guess that’s the price you pay for a guy who wins a title wherever he goes.

156. Roger Mason ( ↑ 152)

155. Bruno Caboclo ( ↑ 151)

154. Martin Lewis ( ↑ 150)

153. Carlos Arroyo ( ↑ 149)

152. Greg Stiemsma ( ↑ 148)

151. Solomon Alabi ( ↑ 147)

150. Maceo Baston ( ↑ 146)

149. John Thomas ( ↑ 145)

148. Mamadou N’Diaye ( ↑ 144)

147. Marcus Banks ( ↑ 143)

146. Dion Glover ( ↑142)

145. Sebastian Telfair ( ↑ 141)

144. Luke Jackson ( ↑ 140)

143. Mickael Pietrus ( ↑ 139)

142. Jimmy King ( ↑ 138)

141. Hubert Davis ( ↑ 137)

140. Jared Sullinger ( ↑ 136)

139. Nigel Hayes ( ↑ 135)

138. Sundiata Gaines ( ↑ 134)

137. Quincy Douby ( ↑ 133)

136. Dan O’Sullivan ( ↑ 132)

135. Justin Dentmon ( ↑ 130)

134. Eric Williams ( ↑ 129)

133. JORDAN LOYD (N/A): 12 GP / 2.4 PTS / 0.8 REB / 0.5 AST / 63.5 TS%

Loyd’s meager numbers and noted lack of longevity paint the picture of a guy who should barely crack the top-200, yes. But... counterpoint:

2019 NBA Playoffs That’s A Rap #25: Post-Game 7 Raptors-76ers Reaction, Kawhi Leonard John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Loyd is immortal. He is a t-shirt and a wall ornament and an inexorable piece of Toronto Raptors lore. He is all these things and I’m not even sure I’d put money on his photo buddy Kawhi Leonard having ever even learned his first name.

This photo is a greater contribution to Raptors history than anything chipped in on the court by Loyd’s fellow end-of-benchers over the course of the title run. If you isolate Leonard’s steely face in the freeze frame above, you can’t really discern the level of tension and hope and fear present in every square inch of the arena as that shot bounced around. Embiid just kind of looks like the gastroenteritis is flaring up again. In Loyd’s face it is all laid bare. He is the conduit for the audience in this most gripping, terrifying and uproarious of moments, and forever will be. Not every ranking is about numbers.

132. Fred Jones ( ↑ 128)

131. John Salmons ( ↑ 127)

130. Dwayne Whitfield ( ↑ 126)

129. Gary Forbes ( ↑ 125)

128. Michael Bradley ( ↑ 124)

127. Rod Strickland ( ↑ 123)

126. Jerome Moiso ( ↑ 122)

125. Pape Sow ( ↑121)

124. Andre Barrett ( ↑ 119)

123. Will Solomon ( ↑ 118)

122. Julian Wright ( ↑ 117)

121. Omar Cook ( ↑ 116)

120. Milt Palacio ( ↑ 115)

119. Roko Ukic ( ↑ 114)

118. Sharone Wright ( ↑ 113)

117. GREG MONROE (N/A); 38 GP / 2 Starts / 4.8 PTS / 4.1 REB / 48.7 TS%

It’s easy to forget that Greg Monroe once had a somewhat important role in Toronto’s lineup in the pre-Gasol era. After Jonas Valanciunas went down with a thumb injury, Monroe backed up Serge Ibaka at the five and performed, let’s call it... nobly. His defense was predictably porous, and the offensive skill set had clearly decayed after bouncing between the Bucks, Suns and Celtics the year prior, but he was a warm body during a stretch where Toronto needed one. I wish him all the best as he averages 35/10/5 in China this season.

116. Tony Massenburg ( ↑ 112)

115. Gary Trent ( ↑ 111)

114. John Salley ( ↑ 110)

113. Lonny Baxter ( ↑ 109)

112. Landry Fields ( ↑ 108)

111. Joey Dorsey ( ↑ 107)

110. Quincy Acy ( ↑ 106)

109. Michael Stewart ( ↑ 90)

Another slight correction after an oversight last year. No one cares that much I’m sure but putting Yogi Stewart top-90 was egregious and I’m sorry, OK?

108. Aaron Gray ( ↑ 105)

107. Loren Woods ( ↑ 104)

106. Lucas Nogueira ( ↑ 103)

105. Reggie Evans ( ↑ 102)

104. John Lucas ( ↑ 101)

103. Darrick Martin ( ↑ 100)

102. Steve Novak ( ↑ 99)

101. Pops Mensah-Bonsu ( ↑ 98)

100. JEREMY LIN (N/A); 23 GP / 3 Starts / 7.0 PTS / 2.6 REB / 2.2 AST / 46.4 TS%

Look. the on-court side of the mid-season Jeremy Lin signing did not work out. He was wildly inefficient, never quite finding a comfortable role within Toronto’s second unit attack. High-leverage post-season minutes were ruled out for Lin well before the Magic series even began. But it’s undeniable that Lin’s presence on the team made the run to the title more special. First, there was the buzz the signing generated. Here was the unlikely dream of the buyout market coming to be. It felt like the final brushstroke on a masterpiece, and that feeling of anticipation and triumph freaking ruled.

Then there was the cultural significance of Lin becoming the first Asian-American to win an NBA title. I, a white guy, am not qualified to speak on the importance of Lin’s ring from that perspective. But as friends of the site Alex Wong and William Lou each detailed in the days and months after he lifted the trophy, Lin joining the Raptors and winning a ring meant so fucking much to so many people for whom Lin’s NBA career has always been about more than just basketball. For reasons far more meaningful than his poor shooting, Lin earns a top-100 spot.

99. Chuck Hayes ( ↑ 97)

98. Kris Humphries ( ↑ 96)

97. Tyler Hansbrough ( ↑ 95)

96. Shawn Respert ( ↑ 94)

95. Acie Earl ( ↑ 93)

94. Hakeem Olajuwon ( ↑ 92)

93. Ben Uzoh ( ↑ 91)

92. Hedo Turkoglu ( ↑ 89)

91. Jelani McCoy ( ↑ 88)

90. Clifford Rozier ( ↑ 87)

89. Reggie Slater ( ↑ 86)

88. Antoine Wright ( ↑ 85)

87. Marco Belinelli ( ↑ 84)

86. Juan Dixon ( ↑ 83)

85. Ed Pinckney ( ↑ 82)

84. Zan Tabak ( ↑ 81)

83. Linas Kleiza ( ↑ 80)

82. Chauncey Billups ( ↑ 79)

81. Shawn Marion ( ↑ 78)

80. Alan Anderson ( ↑ 77)

79. Willie Anderson ( ↑ 76)

78. Dee Brown ( ↑ 75)

77. Lamond Murray ( ↑ 74)

76. C.J. Miles ( ↑ 70); 110 GP / 8.3 PTS / 2.0 REB / 0.7 AST / 36.9 3FG%

It’s a bit of a bummer to see Miles suffer a slight fall after last season. If this were a ranking of all-time nice guys in team history he’d likely crack the top-10. But the nearly unplayable state Miles’ game eroded into last season has to be taken into account. The Bench Mob as we knew it died when Miles started bricking three quarters of his threes through October, November and December. Go Daddy stays undefeated as time itself.

75. Jason Kapono ( ↑ 73)

74. Luis Scola ( ↑ 72)

73. Jermaine O’Neal ( ↑ 71)

72. Matt Bonner ( ↑ 69)

71. Greivis Vasquez ( ↑ 68)

70. Peja Stokakovic ( ↑ 67)

Kawhi Leonard had a career season scoring the ball, won a Finals MVP, hit the four-bouncer and the Game 4 three in Embiid’s eye and made a compelling case that he’s the best player in the world. His 25.8 PER was still 8.2 points lower than Peja’s franchise-best mark.

69. Jarrett Jack ( ↑ 66)

68. Joey Graham ( ↑ 65)

67. Sonny Weems ( ↑ 64)

66. DeMarre Carroll ( ↑ 63)

65. Mike James ( ↑ 62)

64. Charlie Villanueva ( ↑ 61)

63. Lindsey Hunter ( ↑ 60)

62. Corliss Williamson ( ↑ 59)

61. Jerryd Bayless ( ↑ 58)

60. Mark Jackson ( ↑ 57)

59. Muggsy Bogues ( ↑ 56)

58. Chris Childs ( ↑ 55)

57. Andrea Bargnani ( ↑ 54)

56. PJ Tucker ( ↑ 53)

55. Leandro Barbosa ( ↑ 52)

54. Dell Curry ( ↑ 51)

53. Popeye Jones ( ↑ 50)

52. Jakob Poeltl ( ↑ 49)

51. Bismack Biyombo ( ↑ 48)

50. Rasho Nesterovic ( ↑ 47)

49. Oliver Miller ( ↑ 45)

48. Kevin Willis ( ↑ 44)

47. Jamario Moon ( ↑ 43)

46. Carlos Rogers ( ↑ 42)

45. James Johnson ( ↑ 40)

44. OG Anunoby ( ↑ T-38); 141 GP / 68 Starts / 6.4 PTS / 2.7 REB / 33.2 3FG%

Personally, professionally, physically — OG had himself a year from hell. At the time of the last ranking there really wasn’t much to separate Anunoby and spot 38 seatmate Pascal Siakam. That’s obviously no longer the case, but a shot right back up the rankings looms for OG if he can so much as replicate his rookie season.

His appendix. presumably, can’t attack him this year, and he should regain his role as the team’s starting small forward now that Kawhi’s gone. A frightening amount of defensive potential remains for the OG-Siakam forward duo, and OG’s feel and timing as a cutter feels like one of those flavour notes that a full year of Marc Gasol’s seasoning can highlight. We’re not too far removed from his big-balled performance in the spring of 2018, when he seemed like a surefire top-20 Raptor in the making.

43. Ed Davis ( ↑ 39)

42. Delon Wright ( ↓ 46); 172 GP / 7 Starts / 6.7 PTS / 2.4 REB / 2.3 AST / 35.3 3FG% / 10,000 plays that made you say “Whoa”

Wright earns a slight bump for his continued work as the funkiest-ass backup guard walking. One of the interesting ifs of the last few years in Toronto is tied to Wright’s health. Dude missed a lot of time, and you have to wonder how the VanVleet/Wright competition for “backup point guard worthy of the bag” might have played out if Wright were on the floor a little more often early in his career.

Ultimately I don’t think anyone’s complaining. VanVleet’s shooting was, obviously, a non-negotiable piece of the Raptors’ title winning puzzle. And Wright, who may have been buried in the playoff rotation had he stuck around, got to shine brightly enough for the bizarro-Raps in Memphis to earn a nice deal and likely starting job in Dallas. Everyone won the Gasol trade, except for Joel Embiid.

41. Jorge Garbajosa ( ↑ 36)

40. Carlos Delfino ( ↑ 35)

39. Voshon Lenard ( ↑ 34)

Poor bastard isn’t even the best #2 or the best Le(o)nard in franchise history anymore.

38. John Wallace ( ↑ 33)

37. Alvin Robertson ( ↑ 30)

36. Rafer Alston ( ↑ 28)

35. Rudy Gay ( ↑ 31)

34. Patrick Patterson ( ↑ 19)

Patterson probably doesn’t deserve a 15-spot tumble. It’s not his fault Toronto’s roster often necessitated his perfection. But man, after witnessing the effect of reliable role players this season, it’s hard to not see Patterson’s awkward off-the-bounce game and sporadic three-point yips through a new, more gloomy lens.

33. Jerome Williams ( ↑ 32)

I don’t really have an explanation for why JYD’s drop-by-default is slighter than those for Alston, Gay and others. A year of distance, and perhaps a creeping haze of nostalgia brought about by the coming 25th season celebrations just made the sight of Williams ranked below like, Alvin Robertson, look a little off.

32. Jalen Rose ( ↑ 27)

31. DANNY GREEN (N/A); 80 GP / 10.3 PTS / 4.0 REB / 45.5 3FG% / That game-winner in Orlando

One last time, all together: how did Masai manage to get Green as a throw-in to the Kawhi deal?

Green’s regular season was enough to put him on the short list of the greatest Raptors shooters ever. Only Joe Harris connected on a higher clip of triples in the regular season, and while his prolonged playoff slump threatened to stick him with a lesser ranking, he bailed his and the Raptors asses out with a hilarious recovery in the first three Finals games. He’s also entered the Bonner-Patterson-DeRozan zone as one of the franchise’s all-time unabashed Toronto-lovers.

Good luck as the third-best player on the Lakers, Danny.

30. Cory Joseph ( ↑ 25)

29. Lou Williams ( ↑ 24)

28. Terrence Ross ( ↑ 23)

Get paid, buddy. <3

27. Walt Williams ( ↑ 22)

26. Norman Powell ( ↓ 41); 255 GP / 63 Starts / 7.1 PTS / 2.1 REB / 1.2 AST / 34.5 3FG% / Controlling Owner of the Milwaukee Bucks

Norm’s generous standing has been built almost entirely upon the corpses of fallen Milwaukee Bucks. Has he been the most consistent guy in his time with the Raptors? No. Do we have any idea if he’ll live up to his ample contract over the next three years? Ha! But at some point if you save a team’s ass when it matters most enough times, all the regular season swoons and sporadic post-season disappearances cease to matter.

25. MARC GASOL (N/A); 26 GP / 19 Starts / 9.1 PTS / 6.6 REB / 3.9 AST / Parade MVP

Marc Gasol won a title... for the Raptors. It’s still surreal. Trading for Gasol at the deadline certainly carried risk. Toronto’s timeline was short, and its chemistry barely-existent at the time he was brought in with just 26 games to play. He was 34. There was no guarantee he’d be an upgrade over Jonas Valanciunas. It paid off anyway.

Pre-Gasol, Toronto’s offense was efficient but unhealthy. Its parts were disparate, its play-to-play direction a flip of a coin. Big Spain tied everything together, folding in Leonard’s singular force with the speedy, flowing I.D. of the Lowry half of the equation.

Toronto’s defensive system simply became what Gasol believed it ought to be on each possession. He unlocked the Raptors’ impossible ceiling on that end. He punked Joel Embiid for seven games then consoled him as he wept in defeat. Without his heroic 16+ minutes to close Game 3 of the East Finals — all while stuck on five fouls — we are not speaking in such triumphant terms today. If anyone deserves to have a ranking number lower than the amount of regular season games played for the team, it’s Gasol. And we get to watch him play for the Raptors all over again this coming season. Cherish it.

24. Marcus Camby ( ↑ 21)

23. Tracy Murray ( ↑ 20)

22. Keon Clark ( ↑ 18)

21. Alvin Williams ( ↑ 17)

20. Charles Oakley ( ↑ 16)

19. Morris Peterson ( ↑ 15)

18. Anthony Parker ( ↑ 14)

17. Doug Christie ( ↑ 13)

16. Fred VanVleet ( ↓ 26); 177 GP / 28 Starts / 8.3 PTS / 2.2 REB / 3.3 AST / 14-of-17 3FG to close the 2019 ECF

On the night the Raptors won the title, the final touches of my book with Alex Wong (We The Champs, buy it at Indigo please) had to be sent in by 3am. My last job was to write a 400ish word blurb on the winner of the Finals MVP. Knowing that I was likely to have a beverage or nine at the bar for Game 6, I pre-wrote a Kawhi MVP piece that would require me to plug in only a couple closing lines and stats from the game. I figured I was all set, free to calm my nerves with as much of whatever was cheapest at Hurricane’s as I needed.

But then Fred started banging all those threes in the fourth quarter. I didn’t necessarily believe he’d actually snake the award from Kawhi. But it was enough to make me think I should at least start a backup pre-write, which is freaking remarkable considering earlier that spring he’d hit a stretch of 10 games against Philly and Milwaukee during which he made seven baskets on 44 total shots. To loosely quote Marc Gasol — Fred’s a walking watermelon farm.

15. TJ Ford ( ↑ 12)

14. Serge Ibaka ( ↓ 29); 173 GP / 150 Starts / 13.9 PTS / 7.1 REB / 1.4 BLK / 57.5 TS% / Two Seasons of ‘How Hungry Are You?’

As recently as 16 months ago, Serge Ibaka looked just about done. Unplayable in the 2018 postseason and stuck on a 20-plus million dollar salary, an asset-sapping salary dump didn’t seem entirely off the table for the Raptors.

Instead, he started a charming cooking/stunt eating show, moved to the position he should have been playing since like 2014, reapplied himself on the defensive end, accepted a reduced role, and became one of the most beloved players Toronto’s ever seen.

His form during the title run was variable, yes. But he saved his most bitchin’ flourishes for the moments that begged for dramatic effect. His strike-a-pose three in Ben Simmons’ cornea was for a time the biggest made shot of Game 7 against Philly; he went 3-of-5 from deep in that game — his teammates combined to go 4-of-25. It was Ibaka’s second-half in Game 4 against the Warriors that made it OK to believe the Raptors just might do the damn thing.

Whatever happens from here, whether it’s a trade or a graceless decline or a simple departure next summer for some other pasture, Ibaka’s a Raptors all-timer. He’s like new Oakley, except his punches don’t connect.

13. Tracy McGrady ( ↑ 10)

12. Donyell Marshall ( ↑ 9)

11. Amir Johnson (↔ 11)

FINE. You win, Koreen. Amir was better than Donyell.

10. Pascal Siakam ( ↓ 38); 216 GP / 122 Starts / 10.1 PTS / 5.1 REB / 2.0 AST / 59.2 TS% / 2019 Most Improved Player

It’s fitting that the league’s most improved player is also the rankings’ biggest riser. You may accuse me of recency bias in my decision to place him ahead of Amir or even T-Mac just three years into his career — and only one into being a pseudo-star. But like, maybe Amir or T-Mac should have tried scoring 32 on 14-of-17 in Game 1 of the Finals against Draymond Green after being guarded by top-five defenders all spring and setting a new career-high a half dozen times in a breakout regular season in which he had a 63 True Shooting percentage while also starting in JIF commercials.

9. Antonio Davis ( ↑ 8)

8. Damon Stoudamire ( ↑ 7)

7. Jonas Valanciunas ( ↑ 6); 470 GP / 444 Starts / 25.1 MPG / 11.8 PTS / 8.4 REB / 55.9 FG% / 7th in points / 2nd in rebounds / 6th in games played

The JV trade needed to happen to unlock Toronto’s championship ceiling. But that doesn’t make it any less sad that we didn’t get to see JV-as-Borat celebrating the title with the rest of the team. And it sucks even more ass that his last game with the Raps ended in agony after Draymond tried to rip his thumb off.

Before that injury, JV was making a case to maybe just maybe overtake Calderon with his most efficient season in Toronto yet. A 64 True Shooting mark and nearly 25 and 14 per-36 made it tough to say goodbye. Watching him beast in Memphis en route to a new contract eased the sting.

6. José Calderon ( ↑ 5)

5. Chris Bosh ( ↑ 4)

4. DeMar DeRozan ( ↑ 3)

3. Vince Carter ( ↑ 2)

2. KAWHI LEONARD ( N/A); 60 GP / 26.6 PTS / 7.3 REB / 3.3 AST / 60.6 TS% / 1x Second-Team All NBA / 1x Second-Team All Defense / 1x All-Star / Finals MVP / Aha-ha-ha-ha / What it do Babyyyy

I thought it would be harder for me to slot Kawhi ahead of DeRozan and Carter. His case for spot no. 2 is just so damn compelling, though.

Longevity obviously goes against him here, obviously, but the other criteria nearly all stack up in Leonard’s favour. He’s got both beat on pure basketball talent. Neither DeMar or Vince can touch Leonard’s individual stats on a single-season basis; Carter’s 2000-01 season comes sort of close, but not really. Even at his most prolific, DeRozan’s efficiency just lags so far behind, which was kinda the whole point of the trade to begin with. When you look at the playoff resumés, I mean, we’ve all seen the numbers. Leonard just put together one of the greatest spring runs we’ve ever seen; DeRozan is among the worst high volume playoff shooters in history; Vince’s ‘01 run had the Iverson duels, but didn’t have the nightly superhero shit. Leonard actually hit his Game 7 buzzer-beater against Philly.

We still won’t know for ten, even twenty years, but there’s a real chance The Leonard Effect will be viewed as equal to if not more important than Carter’s impact on Canadian hoops. Fifty-something Jurassic Parks weren’t popping up back in ‘01. DeRozan, regrettably, never inspired such nationwide fervor for the team or sport.

Even with the load management and the departure for LA and the perceived toying with the Raptors during free agency, Kawhi’s imprint of the franchise ain’t going anywhere. This is a franchise with championship pedigree. It can’t count itself among the league’s have-nots anymore. Leonard unlocked championship potential the second he walked in the door for media day, and he’s opened up limitless possibilities even in his departure. If Toronto is able to land its first superstar free agent at some point in the next couple years, Leonard will deserve an assist. He’s the second greatest Raptor, and I’m not sure he’s even all that close to third.

Don’t worry though, he’s not close to first, either.

1. Kyle Lowry ( ↔ 1); 497 GP / 17.4 PTS / 4.9 REB / 7.1 AST / 37.8 3FG% / 5x All-Star / 2016 Third-Team All NBA / NBA Championship

Hey so about the part in the intro where I said Kyle’s status as no. 1 might be in jeopardy: I lied. Nothing Kawhi could have done in one season would have supplanted Lowry’s contributions to the run of unprecedented success he’s overseen, especially since Leonard winning a ring means that Kyle too, now has a ring.

After years of fighting off a reputation as a playoff choker that hasn’t been accurate since like 2016 if ever, Lowry had his signature moment in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. With 26 points — including the first 11 for Toronto — he proved that the backseat he took to Leonard this season wasn’t necessitated by decline as much as it was a proper reading of what his team needed. In the clincher they needed buckets, and he brought ‘em as easily as he supplied play-making all year long.

Lowry may not be one of the three or four most talented Raptors ever — although his abnormal hoops IQ should probably fall under the umbrella of “talent” — but his case as the greatest Raptor ever is essentially iron-clad, if it wasn’t already. A gold patch will adorn his jersey this season, as will the little “NBA Champion” icon on his Basketball Reference page until the internet goes dark. For Lowry now it’s not so much a question of his standing within Raptors history, but rather where he fits in the lore of basketball itself. Another All-Star appearance this year and an already interesting Hall-of-Fame case gets interesting-er.

A contract year now looms for Lowry, and there will absolutely be trade machine torture to wade through until the Raptors convince folks they aren’t tearing it down. And they probably shouldn’t! With the title win the pressure is off both Lowry and the franchise. Sentimentality is allowed to creep into decision-making, at least for a year or two. With all Lowry’s done in a Raptors uniform, it’d be crushing to see him shipped off less than a year after making all the toil worth it. There’s even something to be said for keeping a guy like him around beyond this season, rebuild or not. We don’t know what’s ahead for the greatest Raptor ever, but what’s certain is that with every game from here on out, his grip on the top spot is only gonna grow more unbreakable. Kyle Lowry Over Everything, indeed.