Last Monday’s list above was pretty predictable, not much in the surprise element. The next ten Raptors took slightly more thought.
11 – T.J. Ford
2 seasons (2006-08), 126 games. 13.2 ppg, 7.2 apg
(Honourable Mention: Rafer Alston)
The Raptors traded Charlie Villanueva who was fresh off a runner-up Rookie of the Year campaign for the speed demon in Ford. He was solid at the point but inconsistent outside shooting combined with some injuries eventually opened the door for Jose Calderon to be the starter in year two. Ford was then shipped to Indiana in the Jermaine O’Neal trade.
At his best, Ford was a shifty change of pace guard that everybody had trouble staying in front of and could occasionally surprise you with his hops.
12 – Rasho Nesterovic
3 seasons (2006-10), 193 games. 6.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg
(Honourable mention: Rafer Alston)
First order of business is to clear up back to back ‘Skip to My Lou’ mentions. Rafer wore number 12 in his first season as a Raptor during a dismal 2002-03 campaign for the team, mostly coming off the bench. He returned to Toronto as a starter wearing 11 for the 04-05 season after a year in Miami. I chose Ford as the more reliable option over Alston for #11 and Nesterovic got the nod at #12 in comparison to Rafer’s first stint.
Rasho was the starting centre for much of the Raptors resurgent 2007 and 2008 seasons which resulted in consecutive playoff appearances. He was also part of the Ford-O’Neal trade the following season but signed as a free agent in 2009 to play one more year up North.
13 – Jerome Williams
4 seasons (2001-03), 180 games. 7.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg.
(Honourable Mentions: Doug Christie, Mike James)
This may be the most controversial selection to some so far.
If we’re going strictly by numbers, Mike James averaged 20.3 points and 5.8 assists in his lone season with the Raptors in 2005-06. However that was a lost year in a lot of ways, the first full one post Vince Carter. Then there is numbers plus longevity, where Doug Christie comes in. I can easily see the OG fans picking Christie, who averaged 14.2 points and 2.1 steals as a Raptor through the team’s first five seasons. Christie was also the starting two guard on Toronto’s first ever playoff squad in 1999-2000.
So why the Junk Yard Dog? JYD contributed on the court in his right. He was a key member off the bench after arriving from Detroit in the Raptors 01 “Purple Fever” run. He got even more minutes in 2002 and 03, eventually becoming a consistent starter and topping out at 9.7 points/9.2 boards per game.
More importantly, greatness on this list isn’t only being defined by numbers. You heard Dick Stockton say it – Jerome Williams was a fan favourite in Toronto both on and off the court. He was charismatic and still represents the city and team to this day. He was one of the most recognizable faces during the Raptors first stint as a winning franchise. That counts to me.
14 – Danny Green
1 season (2018-19), 80 games. 10.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 45.5% 3pt, 2019 champion
(Honourable mention: Muggsy Bogues)
Quick shoutout to Muggsy, who actually started over Christie in two games during the 2000 playoffs. Outside of that, there isn’t much competition for Danny at 14. The Green Ranger ranked second league wide in three point percentage, and brought a championship presence (along with Kawhi Leonard) to Toronto. His slump in the playoffs was ill timed, but Danny was still a contributor on the Raptors lone title team. From all accounts, Green wanted to run it back. However with Fun Guy gone, the potential contract that would have to be offered just didn’t make sense.
15 – Vince Carter
7 seasons (1998-2004), 403 games. 23.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.9 apg, 38.3% 3pt.
1999 Rookie of the Year, 2000 Slam Dunk Champion
(Honourable mentions: Amir Johnson, Jorge Garbajosa)
Vince will always be somewhat polarizing but this selection is as obvious as it gets. He was the Raptors’ first superstar, put Toronto on the NBA map and made it cool to play here. From jaw dropping dunks, acrobatic layups, game winners, crazy blocks and flashy passes, VC’s highlight reel will probably never be topped by any other Raptor. He inspired an entire generation of Canadians that are playing in the NBA today. His popularity wasn’t just in Canada; Vince was the leading vote getter four times for the All-Star Game. Carter even got the starting nod over Michael Jordan for MJ’s last selection in 2003 before giving up his spot.
The 2000 dunk contest, 51 point game in the Raptors NBA on NBC debut, and 2001 playoff duel with Allen Iverson were all legendary. Carter still holds the franchise scoring average record for a single season (27.6). Who knows what the 2002 playoffs would have brought with Vince in the lineup, considering the Raptors took a two seed Pistons team to the brink while VC was sidelined with an injury. Things spiraled from there in numerous ways which led to booing after his departure for a decade, but many fences (not all) have been mended. A number of Raptors have worn 15 since but Vince’s number should be retired.
16 – Matt Bonner
2 seasons (2004-06), 160 games. 7.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 42.1% 3pt
No true honourable mention for #16.
The Red Rocket was also a fan favourite during his short stint as a Raptor. He rode the TTC, made threes and took down reigning MVP Kevin Garnett. Latrell Sprewell also wanted smoke (he’s choked a coach before, so not exactly one to play with). Bonner took the ejection like a champ. He went on to win two rings as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.
17 – Jonas Valančiūnas
7 seasons (2012-2019), 470 games. 11.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg
#17 didn’t have much competition, but shoutout to 2019 champion Jeremy Lin.
Lithuanian Lightning. Big Science. JV had a lot of nicknames and anchored the middle in Toronto for the better part of a decade. It always felt that he belonged on the court more in the Dwane Casey era, but JV improved defensively and even added a three point shot in his final two seasons. Matt Devlin coined it “Death, Taxes and JV’s threes.” Valanciunas’ first career three pointer was the most hilarious of the calls.
Valanciunas was the most visibly dismayed Raptor during the traumatic Cavs playoffs trilogy. Unfortunately he was traded during the 2019 season before the championship run, but that was the only way to acquire Marc Gasol. That didn’t stop JV from still returning to watch the Raptors in their playoff opener against Orlando though. Holding up “52” and “22” cards after DeMar DeRozan and Fred VanVleet’s career high nights was wholesome too. Great guy.
18 – Anthony Parker
3 seasons (2006-09), 235 games. 11.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 42.4% 3pt
Anthony Parker played three seasons with the 76ers and Magic from the 1998-2000 seasons before going overseas for six years. He returned to the NBA with the Raptors in 2006, making his true mark in the league as the starting two for a couple of playoff squads. Parker was a solid defender and consistent three point threat. Yuta Watanabe and Ben Uzoh were the only other Raptors to wear #18. Easy selection here.
19 – Jakob Poeltl
3 seasons (2016-18, 2023-present), 162 games.
2023 stats wearing #19: 13.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Absolutely no competition for 19, as Jakob is the only player in Raptors history to wear the number. Poeltl’s was a part of the Bench Mob during his first stint in Toronto wearing #42. Poeltl has a rare opportunity to appear on this list in two different spots. Will he? Stay tuned.
Poeltl returned from San Antonio (Kawhi Leonard/DeMar DeRozan trade) and played a key role anchoring the middle for a team that has desperately needed a true center since the departure of Marc Gasol.
20 – Damon Stoudamire
3 seasons (1995-1998), 200 games. 19.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 8.8 apg, 1.5 spg. 1996 Rookie of the Year.
(Honourable mentions: Alvin Williams, Leandro Barbosa)
Shoutout to Alvin for being the starting point guard and a clutch performer during the Raptors first ever playoff series win, but Kyle Lowry settled #20 himself during the championship parade wearing Damon’s jersey.
Stoudamire instantly made an impact in the Raptors inaugural season, becoming their first star player. Unfortunately the humble beginnings fell victim to a lot of losing, and a trade request when Isiah Thomas lost his minority ownership stake with the team. Damon was loyal to Thomas, who had drafted him 7th overall as the Raptors first draft pick (not counting the expansion draft). Damon later regretted the nature of his exit but he provided some exciting moments. Ironically, Stoudamire’s trade to Portland is what brought Alvin to Toronto.
Next week: #21-40