The Toronto Raptors were the only Canadian-based team in the league.
The Grizzlies relocated to Memphis, TN from Vancouver. They were founded in 1995 as part of the NBA’s Canada expansion.
With the Toronto Raptors becoming a global brand, the depth of talent is starting to grow. After the Raptors won their first NBA championship, five players helped establish the “We The North” culture that led to the Larry O’Brien trophy coming to Jurassic Park.
To that end, here are the five top players in the Raptor’s history:
Seasons with the Raptors: 1
Career Averages with Raptors: 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 49.6 percent FG shooting
What a year it was. In one year, “The Klaw” became the missing piece of an NBA championship puzzle.
His iconic, game-winning shot in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals alone solidified his placement on this list. Furthermore, he was the driving force of the 2018-2019 Raptors.
Leonard averaged 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals in the playoffs. While he only lasted a year, it was one of the best, single-seasons a player’s had in recent memory.
4. Chris Bosh
Career Averages with Raptors: 20.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 blocks, 49.4 percent FG shooting
Once Vince Carter left, there was a void in the Raptors. But, Chris Bosh, a skinny, power forward from Georgia Tech’s 2003 draft class, changed the league.
During his seven years, Bosh was a 2003-04 All-Rookie First Team member and five-time All-Star. He leads the team in all-time rebounds and blocks.
While he had individual success, his team lacked the talent to make noise in the playoffs. He only led them to two playoff appearances. While lacking playoff wins, Bosh was still able to become a Toronto star.
3. Demar Derozan
Career Averages with Raptors: 19.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.0 steals
The NBA championship came at the expense of DeMar DeRozan. Chris Bosh, Vince Carter and Kawhi Leonard, who all left in free agency.
DeRozan was one of the few stars who wanted to be a Raptor for life. While making four All Star teams, DeRozan played the most games, leading the franchise in games played, minutes, played, field goals and wins.
He’s the Raptors’ all-time leading scorer with 13,296 points. Along with Kyle Lowry, the duo achieved success many thought impossible.
Close to a decade with the team, they reached the Eastern Conference finals, but could not overcome LeBron James. Having turned the Raptors into title contenders and establishing the “We The North” culture, DeRozan will have his jersey retired one day.
2. Vince Carter
Career Averages with Raptors: 23.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks
He’s the player who started it all. “Air Canada.” “Vinsanity.” “Half-Man/Half-Amazing.” Whatever you call him, Vince Carter put the Raptors on the map.
He’s the greatest dunker of all time, bringing an above-the-rim a buzz to the team that rivaled Michael Jordan‘s. Carter owns the highest points per game average in Raptors history. The exposure that came with his 2000 slam dunk trophy brought new eyes to a team which felt separated from the rest of the league.
He ruled the All-Star Game five straight seasons from 2000 to 2004, while the weight of the country was on his shoulders.
1. Kyle Lowry
Career Averages with Raptors: 17.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.5 steals
Lowry might not be the best “pure” player, but his arrival established and defined “We The North.”
He’s the heart and soul of the team. With DeMar DeRozan, heraised the profile of the Raptors to a national talking point.
They became championship contenders through Lowry’s bona fide stardom. He’s a five-time All-Star and the team’s all-time leader in steals, three pointers and assists.
During the past decade, Lowry transformed himself from a journeyman into a potential Hall-of-Famer. He brought change and consistency not seen in Toronto.
He went from the Duo with DeRozan, to The Claw, to star veteran as Pascal Siakam morphs into an an All-Star. Through his grit, fight and determination, Lowry’s become the most important player in the team’s history.