A wingman emerges.
We have a spreadsheet going.
3. Antonio Davis, 11.5 pts, 8.8 reb, 1.3 blk
You know Marc Gasol found the fountain of youth in Toronto at 34? Well, Antonio Davis did the same around 32 back then. Another victim of Jordan’s Eastern reign, this time by way of Indiana, Davis got shipped to Toronto for the fifth pick in the ’99 draft. His defensive impact was immediate and it was the surprisingly efficient offense and shot-blocking which surprised Raptors fans. Davis and Oakley were perhaps the best protectors in the league which Carter benefitted from immensely. Of note, the man he got shipped for was high-schooler Jonathan Bender. Many moaned at the trade having watched Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady blossom, but it turned out to be a false alarm.
2. Tracy McGrady, 15.4 pts, 6.3 reb, 3.3 ast
Let me put it it this way: we didn’t get a better small forward than Tracy McGrady until Kawhi Leonard. Fresh off watching Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen shape a generation’s perspective on basketball, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady did not seem that far-fetched to Raptors fans high on snorting Vince and inhaling Tracy. We felt we had a legit Batman and a budding Robin and the sky was the limit. It truly is a what-coulda-been for the ages. At least that’s how I recall it…but it was the late 90s and memories are fuzzy.
1. Vince Carter, 25.7 pts, 5.8 reb, 3.9 ast
Vince Carter doesn’t get enough credit for making Chuck Swirsky’s career. Carter was the main act and Swirsky supplied the soundtrack to a season where jaw-dropping feats of a human being became the norm. Vince had more air-time than Jordan, more power than Kobe, and shot 40% from three. Let that sink in. He shot 40% from three while being unstoppable on the drive and the post-up game. The league didn’t know how to handle it and NBA courts across North America became runways for Vince’s circus act. The world was about to end and the Raptors were the drug of choice.