The Toronto Raptors gleaned their name from the animatronic villains of the 1993 film Jurassic Park. It is only fitting that we recognize that here.
Presented for your reading pleasure, five significant moments in Toronto Raptors draft history:
Represented with characters from the movie Jurassic Park.
#1- 2006 NBA Draft
Picks- Andrea Bargnani
Jurassic Park Character- Tim (the little kid)
Andrea Bargnani defines the current era of Toronto Raptors basketball. His selection first overall in the 2006 draft effectively placed a lot of eggs in his basket.
In hindsight, it is easy to say the Raptors should have selected Brandon Roy or even LaMarcus Aldridge. Think of it this way: Toronto could have picked Adam Morrison or Shelden Williams instead.
Bargnani has gotten better every year, his 15.4 points per game and .409 three point percentage last year is proof. He was given more minutes and he strung together a consistently good season, even battling through early season doubts.
He still has another level to gain, and he will get there. With more experience Il Mago will start embracing his slasher side more often and give teams fits trying to defend him.
Tim was the classic annoying child in Jurassic Park. Watching the movie I would think, "Man this would be a better movie if that kid got ate!" Throughout the film, Tim slowly proves his worth and even survives a lethal encounter with velociraptors in the kitchen. He got better with every scene, just like Bargnani.
#2-1998 NBA Draft
Picks- Antawn Jamison, Tyson Wheeler
JP Character- Dennis Nedry (Newman)
Jamison would never suit up for the Raps, he was dealt immediately for one Vince Carter; who would become the most polarizing figure in Raptors' history.
Vince Carter would earn Rookie of the Year honours and would bring the Raptors to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. He had become Air Canada. His performance in the 2000 Slam-Dunk competition cemented him as the toast of Toronto.
The rise and fall of Air Canada resembles the flight of Jurassic Park's chubby programmer, Dennis Nedry. Here was a man who had created the system that kept the island secure from dinosaur breakouts. He was also a backstabbing thief who was planning to steal dinosaur embryos and escape.
Eventually Nedry tried to flee and in return was given a face full of dinosaur venom spit right in his face, just like Toronto got when they dealt Vince Carter to New Jersey during his infamous, "I'm not trying every night" phase.
#3- 2000 NBA Draft
Picks- Morris Peterson, DeeAndre Hulett
JP Character- Dr. Ian Malcolm
Mo Pete was a Raptor favourite for the duration of his stay. Although the Raptors missed out on Michael Redd later in the draft, they ended up selecting a player who would become a mainstay for years (and dodged plenty of misses that were still on the board).
Morris Peterson would average 11.9 points a game as a Raptor, better than the career averages of the men chosen before him (Speedy Claxton, 9.3 ppg) and after him (Donnell Harvey, 5.6 ppg).
Peterson was an excellent defender and a reliable shooter. He was clutch when the Raptors needed him to be but deferred when necessary to the Carters and Boshes. Mo Pete was the glue.
Just like Dr. Ian Malcolm, whose character provided the calm pessimism and level-headedness in a movie full of genetically re-engineered dinosaurs. You take away Malcolm and you have no movie, you have the dreams of a five-year old kid. He was the glue.
#4- 1999 NBA Draft
Picks- Johnathan Bender, Aleksandar Radojević
JP Character- Dr. Alan Grant
Another draft day trade would turn Bender, a career 5.2 ppg 2.2 rpg forward, into FC Antonio Davis a lifetime 10.0 ppg 7.5 rpg player.
Davis would end up providing the toughness in the paint and helped propel the Raptors into the playoffs.
His inclusion would give the Raps some veteran leadership and guidance.
Dr. Grant's role in JP was much like A.D. He was there to provide his years of paleontology experience to the park. That experience would save everyone, except for the guy who ran to the bathroom while hiding from a T-Rex and was devoured on the toilet. Grant warned him though, their vision is based on movement.
#5- 1996 NBA Draft
Picks- Marcus Camby
JP Character- Robert Muldoon
Marcus Camby was a pretty productive guy for the Raps; that's if you can get past the fact that the Raptors passed on Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen and Steve Nash. Toronto should have had a crack at Allen Iverson, but rules are rules I suppose...
Camby had his best scoring seasons while playing in Toronto averaging 13.4 points a game and 6.8 rebounds. Camby also maintained a strong defensive presence averaging 2.9 blocks per game. He never played more than 63 games though, and was traded in 1998 for....
Oakley was nearing the end of his career, but he was a gritty player who complimented Antonio Davis and let Vince Carter roam the court at ease. Oakley was the man who had bodyguarded Michael Jordan like a cautious mother, and would do so for Carter in Toronto. The man is scary.
His 7.9 rebounds a game and sheer presence would help usher in the first playoff era for Toronto.
Robert Muldoon was the game warden of Jurassic Park and probably the most bad ass man in the movie. It was he who volunteered to guard Ellie Satler as they made their to through the jungle. Muldoon sent Satler ahead to hunt a pack of velociraptors, distracting them as she ran for it. He was promptly eaten by the clever predators, but he did the work necessary to save the day. Just like Oak.
Honourable Mention- 2003 NBA Draft
Picks- Chris Bosh
JP Character- Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson)
When Vince Carter disappeared from Toronto, Bosh was left to fill the void; just like how Ray Arnold was forced to reprogram the park after Dennis Nedry's betrayal.
Both stepped up admirably, but now with Bosh haggling for a max contract, things are getting scary.
Bosh is heading out into the jungle to reset the mainframe, and soon all we may have left of him is a bloody stump of an arm.
Just like poor Sam Jackson.
Honourable Mention- 1995 NBA Draft
Picks- Damon Stoudamire, Jimmy King
JP Character- John Hammond
Damon Stoudamire was the first source of pride for Toronto Raptors basketball. At a time when the Raps could barely win a game, he put together a spectacular Rookie of the Year campaign (outplaying Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, and Jerry Stackhouse for it in the process).
Jimmy King was notable for being the trade bait required to bring Popeye Jones to Toronto; sending spinach sales through the roof. Thanks Jimmy!
But Stoudamire and John Hammond provided the enthused exuberance that fuelled the Raps inaugural season and the beginning of Jurassic Park. Although things might not have worked out like they planned, we'll never forget when they turned around and said, "Welcome...to Jurassic Park!"
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