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Ranking Every Raptor, Version 4.0: I guess Tampa wasn’t all bad for everyone.

The Tampa season was hell, but through the few ups and many downs, some Raptors managed to seriously improve their all-time standing.

Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

We’re back for part two of this year’s Ranking Every Raptor! The Tampa season was a goddamn nightmare, of course. But some good did come of it. New faces arrived and laid claims to surprisingly high standing, while guys who’ve been around a long time began to cement their all-time Raptor status. Most importantly, the guy in the top spot went out on better terms than anyone could have possibly hoped for.

Let’s dig into the top half of this year’s list.

124. Tony Massenburg

123. Gary Trent Sr.

122. John Salley

121. Lonny Baxter

120. Terence Davis (Prev: 84) — 106 GP, 7.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists

I’d prefer not to talk about Davis, but because I’m a completist I will here one last time. On the floor, he was miserable for Toronto coming off of his All-Rookie second team rookie season as an undrafted free agent. His defensive miscues were incessant, and his heat checking schtick on offense turned out good results maybe once in every ten nights.

Of course the on-court stuff doesn’t really matter here. By refusing to address Davis’ ongoing domestic abuse case by placing him on at minimum a paid leave until the courts made their ruling, the Raptors actively ignored the zero tolerance approach to domestic violence they’ve preached in the past. The player’s union likely would have come at the Raptors hard had they released him outright, but there was a middle ground to be found between letting him play unscathed and cutting him on the spot, and the Raptors did not find it.

I’m glad we don’t need to revisit Davis’ ranking again.

119. Landry Fields

118. Joey Dorsey

117. Stanley Johnson (Prev: 195) — 86 GP, 13 starts, 3.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 32.3 3FG%

By far this year’s biggest riser, Stanley Johnson capitalized on the opportunity the Tampa situation provided to assume borderline fan favourite status. For a time, he was among the team’s best options to play small-ball center last year, and while he only ended up shooting 32.8 percent from downtown on the season, it felt like he was canning about 80 percent of the threes the Raptors needed from him most.

Johnson deserves a ton of credit for accepting a grunt work role. The list of former lottery picks to willingly accept G-League duty, or who would be content with a 13 percent usage rate is short. Johnson accepted those things and adapted to prolong his NBA career, and succeeded in doing so. He’ll be part of the Bulls bench this season, and it’s hard to think of many ex-Raptors you’d want to root for harder as they move on to a new team.

116. Quincy Acy

115. Michael Stewart

114. Aaron Gray

113. Loren Woods

112. DeAndre’ Bembry (Prev: N/A) — 51 GP, 12 starts, 5.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 57.0 TS%

Of all the non-Kyle Lowry members of last year’s squad who find themselves on new teams in 2021-22, Bembry is the one I’ll miss most. No player’s season was more hampered by the month-long absences of Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet (other than those three guys, obviously) than Bembry, whose prime utility on last year’s Raptors was as a wise connector of good players. His cutting, one-through-three defense, and decent tertiary ball-handling chops made him an ideal fifth option to slide between Toronto’s top guys, where more often than not he’d enhance those lineups.

Without the team’s best players, Bembry was thrust into a more dominant on-ball role, which did not go well. He has clear point guard instincts left over from his time at Saint Joe’s, but they don’t really translate to the NBA due to his poor shooting and suboptimal blow-by ability. He spent the last month of the year playing plenty of minutes, coughing up loads of turnovers, and stewarding a team that would win one of its final 11 games. It’s a shame he won’t be back with a deeper cast for him to complement this coming year. He’s going to be so good on the Nets, and along with Patty Mills will help address the always questionable vibes on that Brooklyn team.

111. Lucas Nogueira

110. Reggie Evans

109. John Lucas

108. Darrick Martin

107. Steve Novak

106. Pops Mensah-Bonsu

105. Jeremy Lin

104. Chuck Hayes

103. Kris Humphries

102. Tyler Hansbrough

101. Shawn Respert

100. Acie Earl

99. Hakeem Olajuwon

98. Ben Uzoh

97. Hedo Turkoglu

96. Jelani McCoy

95. Clifford Rozier

94. Reggie Slater

93. Antoine Wright

92. Marco Belinelli

91. Juan Dixon

90. Ed Pinckney

89. Malachi Flynn (Prev: N/A) — 47 GP, 14 starts, 19.7 minutes, 7.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.8 steals, 1x East Rookie of the Month (April 2021)

Flynn’s rookie season was uneven, from his playing time to his shooting efficiency. You can totally understand why that might have been, though. Within a month of being drafted on the heels of a lost NCAA season, Flynn was playing in real ass NBA games. Holding up the unattainable standard he set for himself during a couple impressive preseason games against Charlotte was never gonna be realistic, and the truncated G-League season cut into his chances for developmental reps.

As such, Flynn struggled to gain his footing for about 40 games to begin the season. It wasn’t until he was down in the Disney bubble with Raptors 905 that the COVID situation with the big club necessitated his insertion into the regular rotation. And while it’s worth taking anything that happened to the Raptors after March 1st with a giant boulder of salt, Flynn more or less looked the part of a steadying backup point guard.

His accuracy from the field was so wayward early on that he couldn’t salvage his true shooting percentage — he finished the year with an ugly 48.4% mark. But the important bits are there. He brings downhill burst to a guard group that lacks it, and managed a better than 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio despite playing with limited finishing talent during the lean days of March, April and May. Assuming his own finishing tightens up from three point and mid-range (he hit a respectable 60 percent of his shots inside three feet), Flynn figures to be a key cog in the Toronto’s reserve and in-between lineups this season. Expect him to close next to Fred VanVleet from time to time as well, in the process securing a healthy bump up the ranks next year.

88. Zan Tabak

87. Linas Kleiza

86. Chauncey Billups

85. Shawn Marion

84. Alan Anderson

83. Willie Anderson

82. Khem Birch (Prev: N/A) — 19 GP, 17 starts, 11.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.2 blocks, 59.6 TS%

81. Gary Trent Jr. (Prev: N/A) — 17 GP, 15 starts, 16.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 35.5 3FG%, 1 Game-winning buzzer-beater, 44 points vs. CLE on 04/10/21

It feels right to clump Birch and Trent together here. Their contributions were limited, and of course were almost entirely confined to a meaningless stretch of the 2020-21 season, but both arrivals were among the highlights of the second half.

The guys around them in the ranks played a lot more than Toronto’s two biggest off-season re-signings, though best moments from Alan Anderson and Zan Tabak were nowhere near as loud as Trent and Birch’s. Trent already owns the eighth-highest scoring game in franchise history thanks to his 44 point April outburst against the Cavs, in which he shot 17-of-19 from the field. His buzzer-beater against the Wizards around the same time was one of the lone highlights from a miserable five months in Florida.

Birch, meanwhile, was a beneficiary of what came before him at the Raptors’ center spot. Merely watching him catch a pass on the dive and finish without spiking the ball into the third row with a clubbed fist was a whoosh of cool Canadian air that refreshed the Raptors viewing experience. He played like a man liberated from the grips of the Orlando Magic misery machine, tapping into skills his old team seemed uninterested in mining.

Both Birch and Trent are locked into multi-year deals, and have clear Top-50 potential on next year’s list if they can scale up their small sample excitement.

80. Dee Brown

79. Lamond Murray

78. CJ Miles

77. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

76. Jason Kapono

75. Luis Scola

74. Jermaine O’Neal

73. Matt Bonner

72. Greivis Vasquez

71. Peja Stojakovic

Still the franchise’s all-time PER leader, two games played be damned.

70. Jarrett Jack

69. Joey Graham

68. Sonny Weems

67. DeMarre Carroll

66. Mike James

65. Charlie Villanueva

64. Lindsey Hunter

63. Corliss Williamson

62. Jerryd Bayless

61. Mark Jackson

60. Muggsy bogues

59. Chris Childs

58. Andrea Bargnani

57. PJ Tucker

56. Leandro Barbosa

55. Dell Curry

54. Popeye Jones

53. Jakob Poeltl

52. Bismack Biyombo

51. Rasho Nesterovic

50. Chris Boucher (Prev: 88) — 150 GP, 14 starts, 16.2 minutes, 8.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 1.3 blocks, 35.9 3FG%

Boucher is an absolute delight to have around. Three seasons into his stint with the Raptors I still have no idea if he’s a player who can tangibly affect winning when things really matter, but who cares. 82 games is a lot of potentially forgettable basketball. Boucher can turn any ho-hum January night into a kick ass time, and there’s a lot of value in that.

This is a huge year for Boucher. He’s a pending free agent, and still needs to showcase whether he can be on the floor for a serious team in crunch time. Defensively he remains a big time playmaker whose play-to-play effectiveness can seesaw. He definitely shouldn’t play heavy minutes at the five anymore, which Birch and Precious Achiuwa should help safeguard against. In actuality, Boucher’s profile is more or less that of a tall shooting guard who can’t really play the position on defense, pushing him into the front court. Getting him to focus on being a havoc-causing four who can contest the corners and cover ground in help is the best shot the Raptors have of making Boucher a more win-driving player, and of pushing him deeper into the Top-50 by season’s end.

49. Oliver Miller

48. Kevin Willis

47. Jamario Moon

46. Carlos Rogers

45. James Johnson

44. Ed Davis

43. Delon Wright

42. Jorge Garbajosa

41. Carlos Delfino

40. Voshon Lenard

39. John Wallace

38. Alvin Robertson

37. Lou Williams

36. Rafer Alston

35. Rudy Gay

34. Patrick Patterson

33. Jerome Williams

32. Jalen Rose

31. Danny Green

30. Cory Joseph

29. Terrence Ross

28. Walt Williams

27. Marcus Camby

26. Tracy Murray

25. Keon Clark

24. Marc Gasol

23. Alvin Williams

22. Charles Oakley

21. Morris Peterson

20. Anthony Parker

19. TJ Ford

18. Tracy McGrady

17. Donyell Marshall

16. OG Anunoby (Prev: 19) — 253 GP, 179 starts, 9.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks, 39.8 3FG%, 60.5 TS%

It’s pretty exciting to think about where OG might ultimately land on this list when all is said and done. That thrilling future is partly why he’s been fast-tracked, perhaps prematurely, ahead of longer serving members of the team in the ranks. Any time Anunoby’s been healthy and on the floor for Toronto he’s driven positive play in high leverage situations, whether as a hyper low-usage fifth starter as a rookie, a capable bench hand, or wildly efficient secondary scoring option. That he’s probably the best wing defender the franchise has ever employed helps his top-20 case as well.

As he’s set to begin year one of a contract that already looks like one of the best bargains in the league, the possibilities truly feel endless. Whether he’ll make good on all the potential he oozes is no sure thing, but his upward trajectory over four seasons in spite of numerous on and off court disruptions to his development suggests we could be in line to watch something pretty special over the life of his second contract in Toronto.

15. Doug Christie (Prev: 18) — 314 GP, 299 starts, 14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.1 steals, 35.5 3FG%, 2nd in all-time steals

Normally I don’t make tweaks to the list for guys who didn’t play for the Raptors in the most recent season, but Christie’s slow progression down the rankings as new faces have surpassed him over four years left me feeling a little uneasy about his 18th overall standing. Christie’s Raptors career truly stands the test of time. While he wasn’t on any especially good Raptors teams, the blame for that was never at his feet. Had those rosters not been littered with dudes from the far upper reaches of this list, Christie would have been an ideal complementary piece — much like he was on those incredible Kings teams he later joined. More than 20 years since his last game with the team, Christie is still top-10 in points, steals, assists and made threes in franchise history. He doesn’t get the boost that some other guys ahead of him get for playoff success and touchstone moments, but Christie’s unquestionably one of the best players the team’s ever seen, and more than worthy of a bump in the rankings, however overdue.

14. Amir Johnson

13. Antonio Davis

12. Norman Powell (Prev: 14) — 349 GP, 120 starts, 9.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 37.9 3FG%, 58.6 TS%, Game 5 Dunk vs. IND, Many demolitions of the Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Championship

Norm has always been a difficult guy for me to place. He at the same time feels like a beneficiary of recency bias while still somehow feeling like an underappreciated part of the Raptors title run and the growth years that preceded it. His stats definitely don’t match his top-12 billing. You could argue that on the whole he spent more time being an object of Raptors fan scorn than he did as a beloved scoring machine. If you still have Amir Johnson and Antonio Davis ahead of him on your personal list, I get it.

Playoff equity has to count for something, though. Without Powell’s work in the Game 5 comeback against Indiana in 2016, it’s probable the Lowry-DeRozan era ends within weeks of that would-be first round exit. Games two through four against Milwaukee in 2019 in part swung on Powell’s Bucks killing as well. Even after the title, Powell added to his list of ass-saving playoff heroics in the bubble. Game 6 against Boston is a Raptors all-timer that Powell’s fingerprints are all over. His ranking should age pretty well. Those post-season memories aren’t fading any time soon.

11. Serge Ibaka

10. Damon Stoudamire

9. Fred VanVleet (Prev: 13) — 283 GP, 134 starts, 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.2 steals, Franchise Record 54 points vs. ORL on 02/02/21, 1 Finals MVP vote, NBA Championship

VanVleet moving past Damon Stoudamire is a symbolic shift in the tenor of this list. Stoudamire was undeniably excellent for Toronto — rookie of the year, 20 points and nine dimes a night, first bona fide Raptors star and all that. But as great as Stoudamire was, he only spent two and half seasons with the team before the relationship soured and he was shipped to Portland. Fred’s been with the team for twice as long now, with him being among the team’s most important figures for at least the last three seasons.

Sliding Stoudamire down is an acknowledgement that the Raptors are no longer a team that has to view its first greats as its most unassailable figures. The last eight seasons of Raptors basketball have been amazing; the top of this list should be dominated by the guys who made that era sing.

If you wanted to argue Fred should be even higher than Valanciunas or Calderón I could probably be compelled to agree. VanVleet does now own the team’s single-game scoring record, has a Finals MVP vote on his resumé, and was clearly valued highly enough by the franchise to be the dude that got the keys upon Kyle Lowry’s departure. It’s longevity and compiled numbers keeping him from seventh for now, and not much else.

8. Jonas Valanciunas

7. José Calderón

6. Pascal Siakam (Prev: 6) — 332 GP, 238 starts, 14.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks, Most Improved Player (2019), 2nd Team All-NBA (2020), 1x All-Star (2020), 9th in all-time points, 10th in all-time rebounds, 12th in all-time assists, NBA Championship

Not much to report for Siakam this year. Those who watched him all year know that by the end of the Tampa season, he’d found his 2019-20 All-NBA form, if not something even a little better thanks to his vastly improved playmaking. It wasn’t enough to vault him beyond sixth, but that jump could be on its way with another season or two of Good Pascal. Chris Bosh will be tough to supplant due to his sheer volume of production. Bosh has the five All-Star nods, but Siakam has the personal and team hardware evening the scales.

Siakam took the reins from Kyle Lowry to become the team’s best player last season. It’s only a matter of time until he climbs into immortal territory.

5. Chris Bosh

4. DeMar DeRozan

3. Vince Carter

2. Kawhi Leonard

1. Kyle Lowry (Prev: 1) — 601 GP, 585 starts, 17.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 37.7 3FG%, 57.6 TS%, 6x All-Star (2015-2020), 3rd Team All-NBA (2016), 2nd in all-time GP, 1st in all-time assists, 2nd in all-time points, 3rd in all-time rebounds, 1st in all-time steals, 1st in all-time 3FGs, NBA Championship

Lowry was number one in the original edition of the rankings back in 2018. It wasn’t an especially difficult decision to slot him at the top then, and since then he’s won a title, made two more All-Star teams, turned in a top two or three regular season as a Raptor at age 34, thrown the greatest pass in Raptors history over Tacko Fall — part of the best playoff series he’s ever played, mind you — and taken over top spot on the Raptors assists and steals leaderboards. Knocking him off the top spot, at this moment in time, seems like an impossible task.

His glorious run in Toronto is over now. But in leaving the Raptors on very much copasetic terms, the last hurdle in any great player’s tenure with a team has been cleared. It’s not often that team and star part ways without at least some kind of baggage, particularly in today’s NBA. Through their seemingly biannual flirtations with divorces of varying degrees of messy, Lowry and the Raptors stayed in lock step until they’d given each other everything they both had to give. Lowry maintains hero status upon leaving, and from the way he’s spoken since signing on in Miami, Toronto’s at the top of his list of second homes for good as well. You can’t say the same for anyone else among the top-five Raptors, nor can you say it for a lot of other franchise’s most important icons.

Kyle Lowry’s the greatest Raptor of all time. That’ll probably remain true for as long as this column exists.