The Greatest Raptors By Each Number – Part 1 (00-10)

A change of pace from current events. Some throwbacks, no brainers, and legit debates.

269 players have worn a Toronto Raptors jersey since the inaugural tip-off in 1995.

Most fans have some version of a Top 10 Raptors list in their head. However we need a different list. Who is the GOAT for each number? You may disagree with a couple of my decisions along the way but that’s what makes this fun.

For the next four weeks, I’ll be touching on every number from 00 to 95.

Honourable mentions are also included for a variety of reasons when necessary.

00 – Eric Montross

2 seasons (2001-02), 61 games. 2.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Courtesy: Off the Hardwood with Paul Jones, Episode 83 (Eric Montross & Michael Bradley)

Montross is one of two players to ever rock the double zero for Toronto, nearly stamping his place on the list by default. The seven foot centre started in 25 games, scoring in double digits a couple of times.

0 – C.J. Miles

2 seasons (2017-19), 110 games. 8.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg

Miles was the elder statesmen of the fun 2018 Bench Mob crew, ranking second on the team with 164 threes made and averaging 10 points a game. He shot 42 percent from deep in the playoffs but was included in the Marc Gasol deal to Memphis mid 2019.

1 – Tracy McGrady

3 seasons (1997-2000), 192 games. 11.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.4 bpg

One of the biggest “what ifs?” in Raptor history. By the time T-Mac left Toronto for Orlando, he was already a star in the making. One of Mac’s cooler stats is that he averaged 1.9 blocks per game as a forward/guard in 1999-2000 despite starting in less than half the games. He added 18.1 points over his final 20 regular season contests. It was just a shame that the McGrady and Vince Carter duo broke up right when they were really starting to cook.

2 – Kawhi Leonard

1 season (2018-19), 60 games. 26.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.8 spg

2019 Playoffs: 30.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.7 spg, 49/38/88 splits + a championship and Finals MVP

No brainer. Fun guy arrived, laughed, won, laughed again, and left. The 2019 run was legendary. If Kawhi had chosen to stay, a repeat was very likely at the very least. But I digress. Enough said.

3 – O.G. Anunoby

6 seasons (2017-present), 368 games. 11.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2019 champion.

(Honourable Mention: Kyle Lowry)

Sometimes it’s forgotten that Kyle wore #3 in his first season with the Raptors but I’m sure he’ll find himself on this list later.

Samson wrote earlier this season that Anunoby was having the best defensive season for a Raptor ever well before O.G. earned a well deserved and overdue All-Defensive nod. He’s expanded his game offensively and has a couple of clutch playoff moments. O.G’s your guy at 3.

4 – Chris Bosh

7 seasons (2003-10), 509 games. 20.2 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.2 apg

(Honourable mention: Scottie Barnes)

Chris Bosh’s departure left a bad taste when he asked on Twitter what team he should play for, but he was a five time All-Star with the Raptors and helped bridge a new era from the painful Vince Carter trade. 2007 especially was a fun rejuvenated season, where even Vince was puzzled at one point witnessing Bosh MVP chants during one of his returns.

5 – Jalen Rose

3 seasons (2003-06), 177 games. 16.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.4 apg

Jalen Rose played through a tough Raptors era. He arrived on a 03-04 team that was desperate to return to the playoffs, only to be derailed by injuries. Vince left the following season, but Rose led the team in scoring with 18.5 ppg. He was then traded in 2006 to the Knicks for his former Pacer and Raptor teammate Antonio Davis.

Rose has always been consistent in praising the city since his departure. Good addition for #5.

6 – Cory Joseph

2 seasons (2015-17), 160 games. 8.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.2 apg

(Honourable mention: Jermaine O’Neal)

Jermaine O’Neal put up 13.5 points, seven boards and a couple of blocks (including a nine block game against the Lakers), but he only played half a season in Toronto. Cory Joe was a solid backup point on two 50+ win Raptor teams, including the 2016 squad that made its first trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. Joseph also made 22 starts in the 2017 season while Lowry was sidelined. It was cool to see Joseph play an important role in his hometown for a couple of seasons.

7 – Kyle Lowry

9 seasons (2012-2021), 601 games. 17.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 7.1 apg, 1.5 spg

Playoffs (84 games): 17.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.4 spg, 2019 champion.

(Honourable mention: Andrea Bargnani)

The Greatest Raptor of All-Time to many. Franchise leader in triple-doubles, threes, assists and steals. Made six straight all-star teams. Hundreds of memories on and off the court. The Lowry chant from fans after the Raptors clinched their first trip to the NBA Finals was one of the most wholesome moments. His Game 6 performance against the Warriors helped Toronto claim its first NBA title. K-Low’s #7 should be (will be) the first number raised to the rafters. And “KLOE” (Kyle Lowry Over Everything) is not pronounced Chloé.

8 – José Calderón

8 seasons (2005-2013), 525 games. 10.0 ppg, 7.2 apg

Plenty of other clips could have been used, but not backing down from Kevin Garnett epitomized Jose Calderon in many ways. By his third season in Toronto, he took over the start point guard reins for half a decade. Numero Ocho averaged eight assists per game in four different seasons and still holds the NBA record shooting 98.1 percent from the free throw line in 2008-09.

Quick shoutout to Bismack Biyombo’s contributions in the 2015-16. He was paid handsomely for it.

9 – Serge Ibaka

4 seasons (2017-2020), 228 games. 14.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 2019 Champion.

Serge Ibaka was the ultimate renaissance man in Toronto. He could start or come off the bench. Shoot a three (those Game 7 threes against Philly will never be forgotten), dunk on someone or block a few shots. Mafuzzy chef was never afraid to throw hands either. Off the court? That’s where the swagger kicked in overdrive, nothing more evident than bringing the scarf game to the super fun 2020 season while the Raptors went on a franchise record 15 game win streak (where he added a game winner). Or did Ibaka copy that from Anunoby? The jury is still out on that one.

You don’t have to look any further than Ibaka’s ovation during the WNBA Preseason game in Toronto to know how loved Serge was here.

10 – DeMar DeRozan

9 seasons (2009-18), 675 games. 19.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.1 apg

Playoffs (63 games): 21.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.5 apg

Nobody has suited up in a Raptor jersey more than DeMar DeRozan. Nobody has scored more points as a Raptor either. DeMar tweeted “Don’t worry, I got us” after Bosh’s departure and held true to that for nearly a decade. Deebo blossomed from a high flyer to a polished midrange assassin, adding something new to his bag every offseason. DeMar made four All-Star teams and deserves a lot of credit for changing the culture in Toronto from directionless to a consistent playoff squad. He didn’t get a ring for his efforts, but #10 won’t be worn by anybody else.

Next week: #11-20