We made it! We’ve reached the final instalment of the myth-making (mis)adventure that will see us mash all of the best Raptors components together in order to reveal the behemoth we’ve built.
In this final segment, we will be inserting the brain that will operate our basketball genius into the body that will house all of our components while also making sure that all of the parts are operating at peak durability.
Without further ado, let’s do it!
We’re not going to beat around the bush too much here. Yes, there have been a handful of basketball savants that have stepped foot onto the floor for the Raptors, but the decision to find out which basketball brain we’re going to put into our glorious creature comes down to only two and of those two, there is a clear number one.
The first Raptor to mention is the beautifully big-brained Marc Gasol. Gasol’s aging and already slowed body forced his brain to put greater emphasis than ever on positioning and reading the play before it happens. He often showcased his superior brain power by being able to get in the head of top tier big men while keeping the Raptors defense in position as its anchor. Is that enough to warrant his selection?
No, no it isn’t. But that’s not a knock on Gasol at all, because he is once again going to finish as a runner-up to the sheer greatness and genius of basketball icon, Kyle Lowry. We spilled a good amount of digital ink on Lowry’s defensive brilliance in last week’s Build-A-Raptor, so let’s look at some of his offensive genius, shall we?
Naturally, Lowry’s defensive genius is inescapable as the offensive play we want to highlight starts with him perfectly reading Khris Middleton for the steal. So where does the genius lie in the above clip? The steal? Yes. The hesitation to slow up and wait for a trailing, mostly hobbled Kawhi Leonard? Yes? The extremely subtle shove of Giannis as he was going up for the block? Oh baby, yes. There is no better video to sum up the incredible mind of Kyle Lowry then his ability to process where the referee was (behind him, so as not to see the shove), wait for Kawhi to catch up to the play and recognize that Leonard would need as much as help and space as he could get after his many Herculean efforts to that point, thus resulting in the shove.
While that play may have seemed like a certainty to Lowry, it’s important to highlight his more experimental moments. Without experimental dalliances like these in the video below, can genius ever truly be fully realized or achieved?
Never, ever change, you brilliant man.
Honourable Mention: Marc Gasol and Kawhi Leonard.
Much like Basketball IQ, the field for top contenders in Durability is thin. We mentioned in the opening piece of this series that there are a couple of ways to measure durability. Are games missed enough of a metric to measure with? Should mental fortitude and the ability to play through injuries be taken into account, and if so, how do you truly, properly measure it? The answer to the above two questions are both yes. Yes, games missed is enough of a metric to measure a player’s durability and yes, mental fortitude is a given when you have incredible durability to begin with.
With that, when building our perfect Raptor, we want to ensure that it can stay healthy for as long as possible while playing as many games as possible. Those two requirements make the selection of Morris Peterson very, very easy.
Over a five season stretch, Mo Pete played a staggering 371 straight games while (presumably) battling a myriad of nagging injuries. Quite frankly, there just isn’t much else to say about a streak like that other than to commend the incredible difficulty it must have taken to attain it. So, because there isn’t a whole lot left to be said about Mo Pete’s brilliance in this category, let’s send this component off with a fan favourite video.
Shoutout Michael Ruffin.
Honourable Mention: DeMar DeRozan and Anthony Parker.
It all comes down to this. Much like the ball in Space Jam, we need to find a vessel to house the many collected talents we have spent three weeks amassing. Because we are building a basketball player, let’s choose a human body to house those talents! Better yet, let’s choose the ideal body from the Raptors history.
Do you like your basketball player small and speedy? Huge and bruising? Somewhere in the middle with a perfect blend of speed and brute force? This exercise leaves a lot of room for interpretation, so let’s try to narrow this down some.
A good place to start narrowing might be to analyze a list of the top basketball players of all time and aim for something similar to what those guys have going on. Let’s say that the top three players of all time are Michael Jordan, LeBron James and one of either Magic Johnson or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Finding the common physical denominator between those four is easy! The average height of the four legends is 6’9” and their average weight is 222 lbs while grading out as having lean, yet muscular builds (with LeBron being the outlier).
Is there a Raptor who fits this mold? Is that Antonio Davis’ music?
While Davis does not fit the lean muscle mold that we discussed above, he certainly is in the LeBron James realm in terms of muscle mass. Davis is listed at 6’9”, 215lbs but if that guy weighs the same as Magic Johnson, then I think the system might be broken. Regardless, Antonio Davis had the ideal body to house our ideal Raptor and that, folks, takes us to the roundup.
Honourable Mention: Kawhi Leonard, a beefed up, later-Raptors-career Chris Bosh, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, and Serge Ibaka.
There we have it! It is built! Here’s a recap of what we’re working with for our perfectly built Raptor.
Ball Handling: Muggsy Bogues
Shooting: Jason Kapono
Athleticism: Vince Carter
Defense: Kyle Lowry
Basketball IQ: Kyle Lowry
Durability: Morris Peterson
Body: Antonio Davis
What do you think? Is there a component you would have assigned differently? Could this perfectly built Raptor be the best basketball player of all time? Are we ridiculous for having undertaken this task? No, yes, and... yes.