It doesn’t matter who you are, I guarantee you wish you had a cool nickname. From experience, I can’t say I know what that feeling is like, but I bet it’s great.
The best nickname I’ve probably ever received was B-Shaw, which isn’t even a nickname if we’re being honest. It’s removing three letters from my name, that’s not cool! It’s lazy! It’s also former NBA player Brian Shaw’s nickname, so I’m not even the coolest person that has said nickname!
But as a professional athlete, a good nickname can do a lot for you. There are people out there that don’t know Magic Johnson or Tiger Woods’ real names — I had to look up Tiger’s real name because I forgot! — that’s how good those nicknames are.
A good nickname can become your brand, you can build merch and signature sneakers around it, but a bad nickname can make you look silly.
So I’m going to go through all the Toronto Raptors player’s nicknames and rank them from best to worst.
According to Basketball Reference, seven Raptors have “official” nicknames but I’m going to add a few that aren’t listed for certain players because it’s my rankings and I’ll do what I want. Also a lot of Basketball Reference nicknames are hilarious and random, but it’s all part of the experience.
10. Aron Baynes: Bangers
If you haven’t heard this one before, I don’t really blame you.
A Google search yields… very little in regards to the history of this nickname. I’m pretty sure it’s loosely tied to him being big and Australian, but I don’t have much for this.
In a feature on Baynes posted to the San Antonio Spurs official website back in 2014, they listed a few of the potential nickname choices for Baynes and they’re all not great.
His production in the paint has inspired a host of nicknames, all beginning with the letter “b.” He’s been called Baynesey, Banger, Beast, Barbarian, Batman.
Unfortunately for Mr. Baynes, I think he’s stuck with a bad nickname for his career. Poor guy.
9. Pascal Siakam: Spicy P
Shoutout to Pascal Siakam for creating a brand around this nickname and it’s honestly pretty cool!
But the origin of the nickname and the truth behind it will never not annoy me.
You can’t be called Spicy P and not. like. spicy. food.
It doesn’t make sense and I’ve rejected the nickname since I found that out. I have nothing left to say.
8. Norman Powell: Stormin’ Norman
I’ll start with a positive, this shirt on Norman Powell’s website is incredible and everyone should own one.
But it’s such a common nickname that it has it’s own Wikipedia page. He isn’t even the only basketball player with the Stormin’ Norman moniker!
That deducts a lot of points from what is a pretty solid nickname overall.
At least he’s the best and coolest Norm connected to Toronto.
7. Chris Boucher: Slimm Duck
This is a pretty solid nickname that goes back to his college days with the Oregon, you guessed it, Ducks.
Boucher is notoriously slim and even after putting on muscle, he’ll never be able to shake the Slimm Duck label.
This actually isn’t the nickname listed for him on Basketball Reference, though. That would be “Swatterboy.”
That one also comes from his time at Oregon, but it is so, so much worse than Slimm Duck. Swatterboy would have been competing with “Bangers” for worst on the team, honestly. But thankfully no one truly calls him that anymore and he embraced Slimm Duck instead.
6. OG Anunoby: OG-Wan Anunoby
I won’t lie to you, this isn’t an overly popular one. He hasn’t really embraced it and it’s only been sparingly used among Raptors fans.
But I’ll be damned if this wasn’t going to be mentioned!
I mean, come on. This needs to be more socially accepted. Whether he likes it or not, this is the honour that has been bestowed upon him.
It would be seriously unfortunate if Anunoby wasn’t a Star Wars fan and doesn’t understand the reference.
5. Fred VanVleet: Steady Freddy
I’d like to start with a clarifier.
Basketball Reference has “FVV” as one of his official nicknames. That is not a nickname. Those are his initials.
It’s like calling LeBron James “LBJ” or Kevin Durant “KD.” Unless Durant has a love for Kraft Dinner, those are his initials and that’s lazy.
As for his ACTUAL nickname, it’s as steady and solid as Fred VanVleet is.
Like Powell, VanVleet made merch around his nickname and it’s also impressive.
The merch was so hot that it sold out! If he doesn’t bring it back for future Christmases, that’s a collector’s item!
It’s also factually accurate which is very important to me. His turnover percentage has been in the 76th percentile or higher for his position group since his rookie season.
“Bradshaw are you really using turnover percentage in an article about nicknames?”
Yes. Make sure your nickname is accurate or it’ll hurt you in the rankings.
*cough* Pascal *cough*
4. Matt Thomas: Mr. 99 Percent
Yeah, this is an A-grade nickname.
Factual, sounds cool, and it makes it even better that he’s a bench player.
For those that are unaware, the nickname was given to him when fans discovered this tweet after the Raptors signed him on July 19th, 2019.
A nickname based around a stat? They went for my heart on this one.
Don’t try to tell me he’s not good enough to be this high either. If he can get Kevin Durant’s attention, he’s good.
For a brief moment there, Durant was absolutely thinking of ways to bring him to the Nets in case Joe Harris left. Sorry, Kevin.
3. Kyle Lowry: KLOE/North Philly’s Finest/GROAT
A man of many talents is naturally going to be a man of many nicknames.
It’s risky having so many nicknames. If even one of them is off, that could tank your ranking.
All three of Kyle Lowry’s nicknames hit; they each have a good meaning.
KLOE a.k.a Kyle Lowry Over Everything is a nice play on the commonly-used KLow and it’s an acronym? Sign me up.
North Philly’s Finest is my favourite of the group. The man owns a whole section of Philadelphia, in addition to the entirety of Canada. Any time you can represent where you’re from in your nickname, that’s a plus.
GROAT — Greatest Raptor of All-Time — is pretty self explanatory.
My one beef is how are NONE of these on Basketball Reference? Step it up, Raptors fans.
2. Yuta Watanabe: The Chosen One
In case you weren’t aware, Yuta Watanabe is a pretty large deal in Japan.
He’s the second Japanese-born player to play in the NBA and he was such a star at 18 that he had articles in Japan dubbing him The Chosen One.
The dude was playing for their national team when he was 16! He earned this nickname.
There’s not a lot that needs to be said here, it’s super cool.
Hold on, actually, my one suggestion for Yuta would be to go all-in on the nickname. Go full LeBron and get a Chosen One tattoo, get Norm or Fred to hook you up with their graphic designers and make Chosen One merch; just be obnoxious about it. Let people know how big of a deal you are.
Contact me, Yuta. We have business to discuss.
1. Stanley Johnson: Stanimal
If you don’t think this is a badass nickname, I’m not sure we can ever be friends.
It’s a solid pun. It’s short and sweet. It sounds awesome.
Especially with a name like Stanley too, really well done.
No offence to all the Stanley’s of the world, but there’s just a certain connotation about that name. You all know what I’m talking about. Stanley isn’t a traditionally cool name but he turned it into a sweet nickname, that’s not an easy thing to do.
My one concern is that there is a French bodybuilder named Stanimal, but when you really think about it, having a nickname that you share with a bodybuilder is pretty rad. He also beat out said bodybuilder for the Stanimal Instagram handle. Now the poor guy is stuck with a number at the end. Stanley Johnson, 1. French bodybuilder, 0.
Like it or not, these are the Official Nickname Rankings for the 2020-2021 Toronto Raptors. As always, you can try to debate me on this @omgbradshaw on Twitter. You won’t be right, but we can discuss.