Ranking the Toronto Raptors' All-Time Starting 5

Justin BediContributor IIIAugust 5, 2013

Ranking the Toronto Raptors' All-Time Starting 5

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    Combing through the echelon of the Toronto Raptors’ all-time greats and choosing the best players not only requires deep statistical research, but it also demands an emotional component as well.

    It’s never easy to go through a team’s history of stars and select a handful of players who stand out. In the case of the Raptors, the only factor making the choices slightly easier is the team’s relatively young age.

    Whereas teams like the Los Angeles Lakers can trace their stars all the way back to the 1960s, the Raptors played their first-ever NBA game in 1995 (we’re not counting the Toronto Huskies here).

    An added bonus of this team's young age is, many of the team’s former stars are still fresh in the minds of the Toronto fanbase, making it easier to remember just how good some of these players were.

    When choosing this starting five, many factors, such as longevity, numbers and playoff appearances, were considered; however, the overarching factor was something more grand: the player's total impact on the team's history.

    So while these rankings are certainly contestable, rest assured they were created with not only statistics in mind, but also the unforgettable moments in history that Raptors fans won’t soon forget.

    *All statistics acquired via NBA.com and ESPN.com.

Point Guard: Damon Stoudamire

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    “Mighty Mouse,” as Damon Stoudamire, was called, was the Raptors’ first-ever draft pick in 1995. Selected with the No. 7 overall pick, he would immediately go on to do great things in a Toronto uniform.

    After averaging 19 points and 9.3 assists per game, Stoudamire went on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award, making him one of only two players in team history to win the award.

    The following season, he increased his numbers to 20.2 points and 8.8 assists per game.

    Undoubtedly, the team had found a star in the making. He was incredibly quick, a fantastic passer and had no trouble scoring, despite his lack of size (just 5’10”).

    Granted, Stoudamire did only play three seasons with the team before things got ugly, and he demanded a trade, but he remains the most talented player to ever play the point guard position for Toronto.

    Alvin Williams was difficult to leave off this list, given his longevity with and passion for the Raptors organization, but in his prime with the team, Stoudamire was simply a superior player and floor general, whose historical significance can't be overlooked.

Shooting Guard: Vince Carter

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    Vince Carter is not only the Raptors’ best shooting guard of all time, he’s also the team’s greatest player ever—and it’s not close.

    His ugly departure from Toronto aside, Carter put the Raptors on the NBA map with his electrifying performance in the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, and his accolades within the halls of Raptors greatness are outstanding:

    • ranks second in most points scored (9,420)
    • has the franchise single-game scoring record (51)
    • holds the record for the most points scored in a single season (2,107)
    • has the highest points per game average in a season (27.6)
    • ranks second in blocks with 415 (more than Antonio Davis)

    And finally, he’s the team’s all-time leading scorer in points in the playoffs with 385.

    It’s easy to gloss over Carter’s accomplishments with the team, given his messy departure, but to do so would be slighting the organization’s most important historical figure.

    Let’s not forget that Carter was crowned the heir-apparent to Michael Jordan. He was a shooting guard from North Carolina, he could completely control a game with his scoring and athleticism and his dunking ability was downright monstrous.

    Obviously, he turned out to be no MJ. Attitude problems and injuries saw to that.

    However, he did manage to carve out his own legacy with the Raptors, and, decades from now, whenever there’s a discussion of the team’s greatest player ever, Carter will always be near the very top of that list.

Small Forward: Morris Peterson

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    Of all the players in this starting five, Morris Peterson, known as "Mo Pete," has to be the most universally loved by all Raptors fans.

    He was never a superstar, but he was an excellent guard-forward who could always be relied on for his passion and exciting play. You never knew exactly when it was going to happen, but Peterson always found a way to make a ridiculous shot that got the fans on their feet.

    Say what you will, but the ability to hit circus shots on a regular basis requires as much skill as it does luck. The only other player in recent memory who has done it as consistently has been Dwyane Wade.

    Peterson’s best season with the Raptors came in 2005-06, when he averaged 16.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 38.3 minutes, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story with Mo Pete.

    In his career with Toronto, he ranks first in games played (including most consecutive games played with 371), second in total minutes played, fourth in most points scored and second in total steals.

    So obviously, he made a large impact on the team.

    Yes, Tracy McGrady—and even Jalen Rose—could be considered more talented and better producers, but they didn't have anywhere near the same impact that Peterson had on the team.

    He was a high-character player who never gave up on a play and dedicated the prime of his career to the Raptors, and, for that, he undoubtedly deserves a spot on the team’s all-time starting five.

Power Forward: Chris Bosh

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    Behind Carter, Chris Bosh, known as “CB4,” is the Raptors' second-best player of all time.

    When Carter finally left town, it was OK because the team had a stud in the making with Bosh. Selected in the highly talented 2003 NBA draft, Bosh was destined for big things in the league.

    As a rookie, he averaged 11.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 33.5 minutes.

    In his best year, he averaged 24 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists with a 51.8 field-goal percentage.

    He even carried the team to the playoffs in both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, averaging 24 points and nine rebounds during the latter year.

    And in terms of his statistical production with the team, he could easily compete with Carter in that regard.

    He’s first in minutes played, points scored (ahead of Carter) and total rebounds. Bosh was also incredibly adept at getting to the line, as he leads the team in total free throws attempted with 3,643. The next closest total belongs to Carter, who attempted 2,277.

    Bosh was a star. He could shoot, post up, rebound and had a very high basketball IQ.

    Unfortunately, the reality is, he probably had taken the team as far as he possibly could on his own. There’s no telling what would have happened if he had stayed with the Raptors, but either way, he’s secured his place as the team's second-best player ever, and certainly it's greatest power forward of all time.

Center: Antonio Davis

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    If not for Bosh, Davis may have very well gone down as the greatest big man in Raptors' history.

    He’s second in total rebounds, has the record for most rebounds in a single season (787 in 2000-1) and is third in total blocks.

    During his best year, the 2000-01 season, he averaged 13.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. The same year, he helped take the Raptors all the way to the Eastern Conference semi-finals and was chosen for his first All-Star game.

    Davis was a big, imposing presence around the basket who played like a true NBA center. He’s not talked about much these days, but, make no mistake, he is the best center in the team’s history.

    If current Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas can ever be as prolific at rebounding and shot-blocking as Davis, he’ll be on the right path to Raptors' immortality.