Let us take a look at the top five point guards in Raptors history, and what Kyle Lowry can learn from them. Lowry is expected to win or already have the starting point guard job in Toronto. He will take over from the franchise all-time leader in assists, Jose Calderon.
The Raptors, for all their shortcomings as a franchise, have always featured some pretty talented point guards over the years. So we will not just stick Lowry in the top five without having played a game for the Raptors. In this trip down memory lane, we will try and suggest what Lowry can learn from the guys on this list.
Lowry began his career back in 2006-07 with Memphis, the same year the Raptors drafted Andrea Bargnani number one overall in the NBA Draft. So this will be season number seven for both.
Here are Lowry career totals to date:
- Games Played: 359 (Started in 139 of those)
- Points: 3,772 (Last season was his best in terms of average with 14.3 point per game)
- Assists: 1,718 (Best Season was 2010-11 where he averaged 6.7 assists )
- Rebounds: 1,240 (Best Season was last season averaging 4.8 rebounds per game)
- Field goal percentage: 42 percent (2008-09 where he split time with Memphis and Houston was his 43.5 percent)
- Three point percentage: 33 percent (2010-11 was his best at 37.6 percent with the Rockets)
- Free throw percentage: 78.3 percent (Technically his best season was his rookie year with 89.3 percent but that was on just 28 attempts, Last Season was his best otherwise at 86.4 percent)
- Turnovers: 660 (Had his most turnovers last season averaging 2.8 per game)
Here is a scary comparison according to a formula used by the folks over at basketball-reference.com. They say the most comparable player to Lowry through six years in the NBA is Travis Best. The long-time Pacer had a 10-year NBA career in which he only started 148 of 708 games played.
Mike James had a brief run in Toronto and made the most of it. He was traded from Houston like Lowry was, and you can only hope things go as well for Kyle in his first season. James had a breakout season with the Raptors and ultimately did so well he wanted more than the Raptors were willing to pay.
He averaged a career highs with 20.3 points per game and 5.8 assists. Numbers James would never come close to after leaving to sign with Minnesota the next season. Mike James might also be remembered in Toronto for being the only player to sing during his media session on locker clean out day. What did he sing? I Believe I can fly by R.Kelly was his song of choice. Not re-signing him, while at the time was questioned, turned out to be a wise move.
These days, Mark Jackson can be found coaching the Golden State Warriors. Prior to that, he had a career in broadcasting with ESPN. This was all after a NBA career that started way back in 1987 with Knicks and finally ended with Houston in 2004. He played for seven NBA teams in total.
Maybe this is more a career achievement award by mentioning him than it is for his time with the Raptors, which was very brief and lasted just 54 games. He did, however, average 9.2 assists in those games before being part of a trade with the Knicks that brought back Chris Childs and a first-round pick.
Some other names, if we're stretching, might include Rafer Alston. "Skip to my Lou" had two tours of duty with the Raptors and was always a guy that caused more of a stir in the media and with his actions off the floor more than on it. To say he is emotional would be a massive under statement. He and Sam Mitchell never saw eye to eye, and it is something Alston was bitter about even after his days in Toronto. There were stories the relationship was so bad it came to blows at a practice.
It should be noted in making this list, only what guys did for the Toronto Raptors was considered, not how they produced over their entire careers. So if your expecting to see Chancey Billups, you will not.
Muggsy Bogues' best days as a player were with the Charlotte Hornets. That said, he made an impression on many Raptor fans. So much so, he recently made an appearance on behalf of the Raptors at the CNE in Toronto just last week. If this was a list of most loved Raptors of all time, he makes it no question. But is he one of the best all time in the franchise at his position?
It is not like his numbers jump off the page and wow you. They don't, but there has to be something to the fact that even to this day, fans love him. If you ask some long-time Raptor fans who their favorite Raptor all-time is, many will bring up Muggsy Bogues. His time in Toronto was short, no pun intended. He really only played one full season and a couple of games in the following season.
We should not measure Muggsy by his height and weight, but more for his heart and dedication to the game. He helped grow the Raptors through his good friendly nature and NBA experience. The fact a guy this small could play in the NBA and have an impact at just 5'3" should be celebrated.
While he made his mark as a Hornet playing with Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, he also left a lasting legacy in Toronto. He and his former backcourt partner Dell Curry gave the Raptors some much needed veteran leadership for a young team trying to find it's way.
What Lowry can learn from this guy? Compete hard, take care of the basketball and connect with the fans. That last one could be a bit of a challenge with Jose Calderon loved by some and hated by others still hanging around.
T.J Ford only had two seasons with the Raptors, but they were eventful to say the least.
Bryan Colangelo acquired Ford in a trade with the Bucks for Charlie Vilianueva. At the time some questioned the move, but given how Chralie Villanueva's career has gone, it is hard to argue it was not a good move. The injury concerns that allowed the Bucks to consider making this move would enter in equation in Toronto as well and ultimately caused Ford to retire during this past season after signing with the Spurs.
Ford would be paired with Jose Calderon, and at first, the duo were a dynamic force. Quickly the two would be dubbed "Forderon" by some fans and media. It turned out to be a dividing force with Raptor fans on who ultimately should be the starter. After Ford suffered a serious injury at the hands of then rookie Al Horford, this situation would come to head. Calderon excelled while Ford and his NBA career were in serious question.
In the end, Ford would return and trouble would follow. Ultimately the Raptors were forced to choose and they decided to pick Calderon, re-signing him to his current contract set to expire this season. Ford was shipped to the Pacers with Rasho Nesterovic, and a first-round pick the Pacers would use to select Roy Hibbert. The Raptors in return would get Jermaine O'Neal and a second-round pick that turned into a bust, Nathan Jawai.
In his two years with the Raptors, Ford had career highs in points per game with 14. He had career highs in assists with 7.9 per game, along with a career high in games played with 75 all in his first season with the Raptors in 2006-07. All of those numbers would dip in his second season and he never seemed like the same player after coming back from the Horford injury. He originally had his spine injured in a scary incident with Mark Madsen while playing with the Bucks.
What Lowry can learn from this guy did? Well, he doesn't want to copy how T.J. handled the point guard battle with Calderon. That would not be advisable. What he can do that Ford was able to do so well with the Raptors is attack the paint and score when required to do so. Ford was a capable scorer and could carry his team on his back on nights that Chris Bosh was injured or just didn't have it.
Damon Stoudamire was originally booed in Toronto on draft night. By the time he was done, he was named the Rookie of the Year for the NBA in 1995-96. Mighty Mouse had taken over Toronto. He was the Raptors' first true star of the franchise. He holds the first-ever triple double in franchise history and many other titles that can never be erased. When you tell the story of the Toronto Raptors, he can not be left out of that story.
Many might argue he deserves to be higher on this list. A case can be made for that. What hurts that case is that he never lasted here that long. Just two-and-a-half seasons into his career, he wanted to be traded and sent to back home to play for Portland. While Damon would have a long, productive career, he would never match what he accomplished in Toronto. The majority of his career highs come from those first two seasons with the Raptors.
He also is one of very few Raptors that was able to break that stigma of playing north of border. He would be featured on NBA shows in the U.S. He also had his own Nike commercial with cartoon superhero Mighty Mouse. You could make the argument he was the second-most relevant Raptor in franchise history in the United States.
What Lowry can learn from him? Toronto is a great place to make a NBA home. Lowry has just two years left on his deal, and the Raptors need to convince him this is the place for him to call home.
Jose Calderon is the terminator of Raptor point guards. He just never dies. He has survived many battles for his job and always found a way to remain a Raptor. While some love this about Calderon, others hate it. As the longest serving player on a team that has seen many makeovers, you would think he would be more beloved than he is.
Still, love him or hate him, he has the numbers to be ranked high on this list. He is the all-time franchise leader in assists with 3,437 and counting. He has accomplished a lot over the span of his career. Still he likely will never be respected fully for it based on the many point guard battles he has survived. This is the last stand for Jose Calderon.
Jose is the past, and it has been made all but official. What also taints his legacy is the lack of success in terms of the post season. He was the guy who threw away the ball in Game 6 against the Nets. He was also the guy who was outplayed by Jameer Nelson in a playoff series versus Orlando. He has become a lasting symbol of the Raptors' lack of success despite his own personally impressive statistics. His glaring weaknesses on defense are pointed out far more than his brilliance on offense.
What Lowry can learn from this guy? Nothing at all. The Raptors brought him in to be the solution to the Calderon problem. Jose may be a nice guy and may be the great team player he has been touted to be. I don't think Jose will be all that hospitable or helpful this time around. He may have finally had enough.
That said, Lowry can observe the way Calderon runs pick and rolls and the great chemistry he has with some guys on this team. Watch and learn is best advice least on offense. On defense, ignore everything Jose does.
"Boogie" Williams was what Chuck Swirsky use to call Alvin Williams back in the day. Williams was the heart and soul of some of the best teams that Raptors have put on a basketball court. He hit the biggest shot in franchise history to close out the Knicks in Game 5 of the 2001 Eastern Conference first round at MSG.
He gave his body each and every night—so much so that he had to retire long before his time. The Raptors have always been a team that has had the label of being "soft" attached to them. Alvin Williams was a tough kid from Philadelphia who was anything but soft.
Alvin Williams was the perfect example of what Raptor fans want and demand from players. He was hard working and left it all on the floor. People in Toronto remember that and have always embraced Williams. He has also worked in various roles with the franchise since his career was forced into retirement due to knees that did not have the will that Alvin did. He also is likely the last point guard the Raptors have had until Lowry was acquired that could play some defense.
What Lowry can learn from him? Be tough, play hard and the people will love you. There is a lot of things Lowry has already learned from Williams actually. They are both kids from Philly that love basketball and play it in the way people from Philadelphia are supposed to do it. Alvin has been a friend and mentor for Kyle, and that likely played favorably in the Raptors' interest in him.
If Kyle Lowry is to one day top this list, there is no question the guy at the top of it would gladly pass him the torch. Raptor fans hope he can be someone that is good enough to deserve that honor.