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Ranking Every Raptor — Edition 3.0: Fresh faces and second-year leaps

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The grandest of annual HQ traditions returns for its third installment. It’s time once again to Rank Every Raptor.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago when I set out to rank every player to suit up for the Raptors, I unknowingly painted myself into a corner. I hate things that are out of date. It’s why I buy sports games that stay the same every year just so I can get those sweet, sweet updated rosters like a mark. I was never gonna be able to leave these rankings alone. I’m resigned to doing this until we all burn up some time around 2042.

This year’s edition of the ranking doesn’t come with the same post-championship glee last year’s did, but the run it back season did offer plenty of opportunity for long-time Raptors to cement their standing with the franchise, which was in many ways just as satisfying to watch. Eight new faces have joined the list as well.

The pandemic shutdown threatened to leave 17 dangling threads on the stories of the 2019-20 Raptors, and while just about everything sucks this year, one of the few silver linings was that these Raptors got the chance to close out their title defense properly. Afforded some extra bubble and playoff games to work with, a bunch of guys seriously juiced their ranking along the way.

Without further preamble, let’s get to part one of the third round of Ranking Every Raptor.

238. Alonzo Mourning (2018 Rank — ↑ 230)

237. Kenny Anderson ( ↑ 229)

Every year I grow a little less bitter about Mourning and Anderson for spurning their Toronto assignments, but at this point it’s tradition to start the ranking off with them.

236. LaMark Baker ( ↑ 228)

235. William Cunningham ( ↑ 227)

234. Bob McCann ( ↑ 226)

233. Garth Joseph ( ↑ 225)

232. Ed Stokes ( ↑ 224)

231. Rick Brunson ( ↑ 223)

Still a garbage human.

230. Nathan Jawai ( ↑ 222)

229. Antonio Lang ( ↑ 221)

228. SHAMORIE PONDS (N/A); 4 GP / 2.8 MPG / 2.3 PTS / 0.3 REB / 0.5 AST

Shamorie Ponds: he’s definitely a guy who exists. It doesn’t bode well for one’s NBA career when the most memorable thing you’ve done on an NBA floor is to have your name mispronounced by Matt Devlin during a pre-season game in Japan while playing for a different team than the one you’d end up getting your only four games of NBA action with. Shamorie Pounds forever.

227. Chris Garner ( ↑ 220)

226. Aleksandar Radojevic ( ↑ 219)

Radojevic doesn’t get a bump or anything, but he was the subject of a very cool story told by Doug Smith on a recent episode of Locked On Raptors, wherein in Doug said that one evening, a rookie Radojevic footed the entire dinner bill for a group of Raptors media, citing his much higher salary and his feeling that it was simply the right thing to do. Seems worth shouting out. Aleksandar Radojevic is the wealth-sharing socialist king we need right now.

225. Uros Slokar ( ↑ 218)

224. Rafael Araujo ( ↑ 217)

223. Ronald Dupree ( ↑ 216)

222. Linton Johnson ( ↑ 215)

221. Hassan Adams ( ↑ 214)

220. Micheal Williams ( ↑ 213)

219. Zendon Hamilton ( ↑ 212)

218. Tim Kempton ( ↑ 211)

217. Earl Cureton ( ↑ 210)

216. Herb Williams ( ↑ 209)

215. Negele Knight ( ↑ 208)

214. Eric Moreland ( ↑ 207); 4 GP / 1.8 PTS / 4.3 REB / 1.0 AST / 8 Playoff Appearances (?)

213. DEWAN HERNANDEZ (N/A); 6 GP / 2.3 PTS / 2.3 REB / 0.5 AST

Look, I don’t know if Dewan Hernandez is gonna be anything in the NBA. But I am damn sure I want to see him get the chance to find out. Maybe it’s presumptive to assume the Raptors development machine will turn Hernandez into a good pro, and perhaps I’m clinging a little too tightly to some fun flourishes of light footwork and delicate touch in a handful of Summer League games, but it feels like there’s something there.

Of course for that something to be mined, Hernandez will have to be on a basketball court. Between his final season in college getting snatched by the scam that is the NCAA, and the recurring ankle problem that kept him out for much of last year, Hernandez has lost two straight years of development — which could become three if the pandemic claims the 2020-21 G League season. No available 905 reps for Hernandez could work in his favour, though. If the Raptors are serious about him as a prospect, they may have no choice but to throw him to the wolves in NBA games this coming season, which should give us some insight into how up to the task he is or isn’t.

We need a little optimism in these endlessly shitty times, so here’s a take: Hernandez gets NBA run this year, claims semi-regular backup centre duty, and jumps at least 50 spots in the rankings by the time we revisit the rankings next year.

212. Jannero Pargo ( ↑ 206)

211. Austin Daye ( ↑ 205)

210. Mengke Bateer ( ↑ 204)

209. Tyrone Corbin ( ↑ 203)

208. Malachi Richardson ( ↑ 202)

207. DJ Augustin ( ↑ 201)

206. Sean Marks ( ↑ 200)

205. Brad Lohaus ( ↑ 199)

204. Jake Voskuhl ( ↑ 198)

203. Benoit Benjamin ( ↑197)

202. Roy Rogers ( ↑ 196)

201. Haywoode Workman ( ↑ 195)

200. Jimmy Oliver ( ↑ 194)

199. Julyan Stone ( ↑ 193)

198. Corie Blount ( ↑ 192)

197. Art Long ( ↑ 191)

196. Anthony Bennett ( ↑ 190)

195. STANLEY JOHNSON (N/A); 25 GP / 2.4 PTS / 1.5 REB / Inspired Nick Nurse’s “Nope, nope, nope” rant

Oh, Stan.

Johnson was set up to fail the second he was the Raptors’ first response to losing Kawhi Leonard. Not that anyone was dumb enough to hold him up to that standard, but the jokes were essentially pre-written for any time he missed a defensive assignment, or dribbled the ball out of bounds on a fast break — things poor Stan did a whole lot in year one as a Raptor.

Five years since going in the lottery, it seems safe to say Johnson’s offense will never be good enough to make his defense valuable, unless of course every game the Raptors play is a garbage time barn burner to close out the season.

194. Jamaal Magloire ( ↑ 189)

193. Aaron Williams ( ↑ 188)

192. Alfonzo McKinnie ( ↑ 187)

191. Nate Huffman ( ↑ 186)

190. Trey Johnson ( ↑ 185)

189. Lloyd Daniels ( ↑ 184)

188. Robert Archibald ( ↑ 183)

187. Jermaine Jackson ( ↑ 182)

186. Derrick Dial ( ↑ 181)

185. Damone Brown ( ↑ 180)

184. PAUL WATSON JR. (N/A); 8 GP / 8.8 MPG / 3.9 PTS / 1.9 REB / 0.6 AST /

Watson’s a super easy guy to get behind. A journeyman G Leaguer from a less-than sexy college program earning himself a two-way deal? If he can take the next step into regular rotation minutes with the big club, there will be few guys in Raps history more worthy of cult fan fav status. The 22 points he dropped in Toronto’s delightfully fun season-ending win over Denver in the bubble is a pretty solid early addition to his Raptors lore, too.

Next year figures to be something of a fact-finding mission. The team will surely be good, but it’ll also have its eyes on a future that they hope will include a marquee superstar addition. For guys like Watson, Hernandez, and Oshae Brissett, the 2020-21 season will be a prolonged audition for a role on that ideal vision of the team in 2021 and beyond. If Toronto lands its free agent fish, low-cost options to fill in the cracks will be a must. At 6’7” with some creative qualities and multi-positional defense, Watson stands a real chance of getting the part, and climbing in the rankings as a result.

183. Donald Whiteside ( ↑ 179)

182. Kornel David ( ↑ 178)

181. Vincenzo Esposito ( ↑ 177)

180. Anthony Carter ( ↑ 176)

179. Lorenzo Brown ( ↑ 175)

178. Primoz Brezec ( ↑ 174)

177. OSHAE BRISSETT (N/A); 19 GP / 7.1 MPG / 1.9 PTS / 1.4 REB / 12 & 6 in that Portland game

Because Brissett, who was on a two-way deal, burned through his 45 NBA days pretty early on in the year before getting hurt in the bubble, he doesn’t quite have the shine of someone like Watson, whose pops came after the 4-month COVID layoff. That sucks for Brissett, because he played like a boss when called upon. His offense is, to put it delicately, in need of some work — something an amped up work load with the 905 helped with in the back half of the shortened season. On the other end of the floor, dude’s legit. Rookies aren’t supposed to be at home in any defense from the jump, let alone one as advanced as Toronto’s. Brissett could absolutely hang, and if his offensive touch ever catches up, well then damn, he’s a freaking player.

176. Patrick O’Bryant ( ↑ 173)

175. Eric Montross ( ↑170)

174. Dwight Buycks ( ↑ 169)

173. David Andersen ( ↑ 168)

172. Jason Thompson ( ↑ 167)

171. Alexis Ajinca ( ↑ 166)

170. Nando de Colo ( ↑ 165)

169. Rasual Butler ( ↑ 164)

168. Jodie Meeks (↑ 163)

167. John Long ( ↑ 162)

166. Michael Curry ( ↑ 161)

165. Greg Foster ( ↑ 160)

164. Chris Jefferies ( ↑ 159)

163. Dominic McGuire ( ↑ 158)

162. Roger Mason ( ↑ 156)

161. Bruno Caboclo ( ↑ 155)

160. Martin Lewis ( ↑ 154)

159. Carlos Arroyo ( ↑ 153)

158. Greg Stiemsma ( ↑ 152)

157. Solomon Alabi ( ↑ 151)

156. Maceo Baston ( ↑ 150)

155. John Thomas ( ↑ 149)

154. Mamadou N’Diaye ( ↑ 148)

153. Marcus Banks ( ↑ 147)

152. MALCOLM MILLER ( ↓ 171); 53 GP / 2.0 PTS / 0.7 REB / 40.3 3FG% / Ran a mean full-court press in that Dallas game

Malcolm Miller is essentially the wing version of Marcus Banks in the context of Raptors history, except he’s also got a ring. There are worse gigs to have than to hang around as a bit part on an NBA team for three years, especially when every once in a while you have a moment. For Miller, this year’s moment came in the 30-point comeback against Dallas on December 22nd, where he was one of the four random dudes Kyle Lowry helped power to that borderline impossible win. Miller missed every shot he took that night, but without his well-timed lunges in that marauding full-court press, the Raptors probably don’t pull it out.

If this is the end of the line for Miller, who is one of the more personable members of the team, it was a fun little ride for a guy who probably deserved to play more than 53 games in three years.

151. Dion Glover ( ↑146)

150. Sebastian Telfair ( ↑ 145)

149. Luke Jackson ( ↑ 144)

148. Mickael Pietrus ( ↑ 143)

147. Jimmy King ( ↑ 142)

146. Hubert Davis ( ↑ 141)

145. Jared Sullinger ( ↑ 140)

144. Nigel Hayes ( ↑ 139)

143. Sundiata Gaines ( ↑ 138)

142. Quincy Douby ( ↑ 137)

141. Dan O’Sullivan ( ↑ 136)

140. Justin Dentmon ( ↑ 135)

139. Eric Williams ( ↑ 134)

138. Jordan Loyd ( ↑ 133)

137. Fred Jones ( ↑ 132)

136. John Salmons ( ↑ 131)

135. PATRICK MCCAW ( ↓ 157); 63 GP / 13 Starts / 3.8 PTS / 2.1 REB / 1.7 AST / That Three in the Finals

McCaw is probably the dude that drives Raptors fans the most nuts at the moment. And look, I totally get it. He still has the trust of Nick Nurse, in spite of the fact that his usually sound defense almost never shines to the degree that it blocks out all he does poorly and/or reluctantly on the other end.

All of that having been said, there’s a case to be made that the Raptors missed McCaw — just a smidge — in the playoffs. I’m not even sure why I feel this way and I’m probably wrong. But the team was paper thin when the chips were down against Boston, and even if he were part of lineups that won three minute bench stretches by scores of 2-0 or 4-2, that could have saved precious minutes and miles on Kyle Lowry’s engine.

And with all of that having been said, it would be just dandy to see his $4 million salary used as cap ballast in a trade this off-season. Masai and Bobby have gotta protect Nurse from himself at this point.

134. Dwayne Whitfield ( ↑ 130)

133. Gary Forbes ( ↑ 129)

132. Michael Bradley ( ↑ 128)

131. Rod Strickland ( ↑ 127)

130. Jerome Moiso ( ↑ 126)

129. Pape Sow ( ↑125)

128. Andre Barrett ( ↑ 124)

127. Will Solomon ( ↑ 123)

126. Julian Wright ( ↑ 122)

125. Omar Cook ( ↑ 121)

124. Milt Palacio ( ↑ 120)

123. Roko Ukic ( ↑ 119)

122. Sharone Wright ( ↑ 118)

121. Greg Monroe (↑ 117)

120. Tony Massenburg ( ↑ 116)

119. Gary Trent ( ↑ 115)

118. John Salley ( ↑ 114)

117. Lonny Baxter ( ↑ 113)

116. Landry Fields ( ↑ 112)

115. Joey Dorsey ( ↑ 111)

114. Quincy Acy ( ↑ 110)

113. Michael Stewart ( ↑ 109)

112. Aaron Gray ( ↑ 108)

111. Loren Woods ( ↑ 107)

110. Lucas Nogueira ( ↑ 106)

109. MATT THOMAS (N/A); 41 GP / 4.9 PTS / 1.5 REB / 47.5 3FG%

He didn’t quite step in as the greatest three-point shooter in the world, but he was absolutely the best two-point off-glass after one step in from the three-point line field goal shooter on Earth from the second he suited up. Thomas’ first year in Toronto was full of those sorts of surprises, from his love of the window, to his stealthy rebounding acumen to his stunning ability to hold his own on defense, particularly at the top of a zone. All of those unexpected little elements seem to point to a player whose utility should go well beyond being a zone-buster on nights when the Raptors offense stinks it up. Expect Thomas to be a meaningful bench piece next season, likely climbing into the top-100 as a result.

108. Reggie Evans ( ↑ 105)

107. John Lucas ( ↑ 104)

106. Darrick Martin ( ↑ 103)

105. Steve Novak ( ↑ 102)

104. Pops Mensah-Bonsu ( ↑ 101)

103. Jeremy Lin ( ↑ 100)

102. Chuck Hayes ( ↑ 99)

101. Kris Humphries ( ↑ 98)

100. Tyler Hansbrough ( ↑ 97)

99. Shawn Respert ( ↑ 96)

98. Acie Earl ( ↑ 95)

97. Hakeem Olajuwon ( ↑ 94)

96. Ben Uzoh ( ↑ 93)

95. Hedo Turkoglu ( ↑ 92)

94. Jelani McCoy ( ↑ 91)

93. Clifford Rozier ( ↑ 90)

92. Reggie Slater ( ↑ 89)

91. Antoine Wright ( ↑ 88)

90. Marco Belinelli ( ↑ 87)

89. Juan Dixon ( ↑ 86)

88. CHRIS BOUCHER ( ↓ 172); 91 GP / 6.6 PTS / 4.5 REB / 1.0 BLK / 58.2 TS%

And the biggest riser of the year is...

I’ll admit it, I did not think Boucher was an NBA player this time last year. I tweeted as much during the fourth quarter of the Raptors game in LA against the Lakers in early November:

Literally seconds later, Boucher got to work on a season-long tour of proving how dumb I am. Of all the Raptors many bench hands, Boucher brought the most rollicking fun. Erratic? Sure. Unfit for some match-ups on account of his teensy build? Uh huh. But damnit if it wasn’t a total joy watching him jack a shot a microsecond after catching a pass, or swoop in from being slightly out of position to swat a shot. He’s the perfect type of bench player to liven up the cold, monotonous evenings of the regular season.

Boucher’s still got questions to answer. Not so much the “is he an NBA player” kind, but it’s still unclear how useful an NBA player he may be in the biggest situations. Also it remains unclear what position he should even play. He’s a restricted free agent this off-season, though the depressed market should keep prying offer-sheets away. One more year like he just had should he accept his qualifying offer, and he should earn a nice pay day, and further establish himself as the best Canadian player in Raptors history.

87. Ed Pinckney ( ↑ 85)

86. Zan Tabak ( ↑ 84)

85. Linas Kleiza ( ↑ 83)

84. TERENCE DAVIS (N/A); 72 GP / 7.5 PTS / 3.3 REB / 1.6 AST / Second Team All-Rookie

Look, considering recent events, I’m not thrilled to be writing a blurb on Davis’ on-court play. It doesn’t matter in the face of the crimes he’s been charged with. He was good this season, but it shouldn’t matter for the Raptors. A basketball team is not a court of law. The Raps already have more than enough cause to no longer pay Davis to play basketball, regardless of whether he’s proven guilty of the domestic assault of which he is accused. Just as a team can move on from a player for underperforming on the court, it can move on when he gets caught up in nefarious shit off of it. His contract is currently non-guaranteed, and the Raptors should not pick it up. If I’m talking about Davis in these rankings next year, it will be an indictment of the franchise and the values it claims to be all about.

83. Chauncey Billups ( ↑ 82)

82. Shawn Marion ( ↑ 81)

81. Alan Anderson ( ↑ 80)

80. Willie Anderson ( ↑ 79)

79. Dee Brown ( ↑ 78)

78. Lamond Murray ( ↑ 77)

77. C.J. Miles ( ↑ 76)

76. RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON (N/A); 60 GP / 6 Starts / 7.0 PTS / 4.7 REB / 1.8 AST / He’s Not Your Child

We wrap up the first part of Version 3.0 with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who did way more than could have ever been expected when he signed in the wake of Kawhi’s departure. What’s incredible about his rise to becoming the Raptors most trusted deep rotation piece is that he did it entirely in various states of falling down.

As one-year fan favourites go, RHJ isn’t quite on the Biyombo tier, but he’s damn close. Without the work of him and Boucher, the Raptors don’t survive their most injured spells of the season. They maybe even lose enough early on to cast doubt as to whether the team should even stick to running it back to its conclusion.

He may not be in line for huge money in an uncertain free agent pool, but it seems unlikely he’ll come at the price of a one-year minimum, which may rule him out of a return. If this is the end, it was a good run, if constantly stressful. Considering he looked to be on the edge of crashing out of the league a year ago, this is a dude I hope some crazy team goes nuts to sign, same as the Magic did for Bismack four years ago. Rondae’s earned a bag.

***

Check back tomorrow for the Top 75 Toronto Raptors!