Photo Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images Sport
Two weeks ago, I submitted to you, the reader, my list of greatest Raptors by jersey number from double zeros to 10, featuring names like Tracey McGrady, Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
This next list of numbers and players may not have the same notoriety – aside from 15, for obvious reasons – as the first one but may still make the older generations of Toronto sports fans nostalgic about past teams.
Here are the best Raptors from 11 to 20.
#11: T.J. Ford
T.J. Ford’s two-year stint in Toronto won’t be remembered by most fans, but he’ll sure remember how one game against the Atlanta Hawks in 2007 perpetuated spinal cord issues, effectively altering his career.
Hawks’ Al Horford whacked Ford in the face as he drove to the basket, resulting in Ford falling on his head. Ford had to be carried off the court in a stretcher and questions about his future in the league loomed until he decided to retire due to his injuries in 2012.
Aside from the issues he faced while in Toronto and beyond, Ford did score 13.2 points per game in two years as a Raptor. He also averaged a 44.8% field goal percentage.
#12: Rasho Nesterovic
Not too much to talk about on this one.
Nine Raptors have worn jersey number 12 and none of them jump off the page. Rasho Nesterovic averaged 6.3 points in three years in Toronto – his worst statistics among the four teams he played for from 1998 to 2010.
#13: Mike James
This one may be the most controversial of the list.
Mike James, Doug Christie and Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams make up a trio of Raptors who could take home the award for the greatest to wear number 13 in Toronto. Christie and Williams both played more seasons as a Raptor than James and had decent careers, but neither could match the one-year wonder.
During the 2005-06 NBA season, James scored 20.3 points per game – almost double the amount of points he scored on his next best team when he averaged 11.4 in Milwaukee.
He also formed an effective duo with Morris Peterson which saw a 35+ point game in 2006 – a stat that was not seen again until Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam repeated it this past May.
#14: Danny Green
Unlike the last one, I don’t have to take much time deciding who should get this one.
Danny Green was one of the many puzzle pieces put in place prior to the 2018-19 NBA season that allowed Toronto to reach its first NBA championship in franchise history. Green scored 10.3 points per game during the regular season but it wasn’t until the Finals that he truly took flight.
Through three games, he averaged a 51.6% three-point percentage – a record Green would have set for players who have attempted at least 50 shots from beyond the arc if his numbers didn’t go down in the next few games. Green is also now tied with J.R. Smith for fourth in three-point field goals in the Finals with 59.
Honourable mention to Muggsy Bogues’ two seasons in Toronto.
#15: Vince Carter
Whether you scrolled straight to this number or read all the way through, I appreciate you.
Vince Carter and Kyle Lowry are the two greatest Raptors of all-time, with the latter taking a slight edge according to The Raptors Insider fans.
Carter spent seven seasons of his 17-year career in Toronto and was an NBA All-Star six times as a Raptor – he only missed out in his rookie year. He averaged 23.4 points and a 44.6% field goal percentage before leaving Toronto in 2005 to play for the New Jersey Nets.
But one of Carter’s most memorable performances was at the 2000 NBA Dunk Contest where he showcased his best for the world to see.
#16: Matt Bonner
I wouldn’t want to follow Carter on anything and I’m sure Matt Bonner would agree.
If Peja Stojaković hadn’t been released by the Raptors after just two games – he scored on 75% of his shots from two-point range and 66.7% from three while averaging 10 points a game during this span – maybe he could have been considered as well.
Bonner didn’t have much of an exciting career during his two years in Toronto but he’s the only one who makes sense to use for this number. He played in 160 games as a Raptor but only started in six. During that time, he averaged 7.3 points and 3.6 rebounds.
#17: Jonas Valanciunas
A third name Gen Z fans will recognize.
Valanciunas was a former Raptor who laid the foundation during the mid to late 2010’s before the team finally went on their Finals run in 2019. He was on the team at the beginning of the 2018-19 season but was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in a package that brought Marc Gasol to Toronto.
In his seven seasons as a Raptor, the big man scored 11.8 points per game and averaged 8.4 rebounds.
#18: Anthony Parker
Yuta Watanabe may take this spot in the future but for now, the best Raptor to wear number 18 is still Anthony Parker.
After six years removed from the NBA – he played in Israel and Italy from 2000 to 2006 – Parker came to Toronto for the 2006-07 season. In his three season as a Raptor, Parker averaged 11.9 points, never dropping below 10 in a season. He scored on 46% of his field goal attempts.
Parker left Toronto in 2009 and signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers but never averaged more than nine points again.
#20: Damon Stoudamire
Another tough pick, but not the most controversial.
I’d estimate that around 50% of Raptors fans agree with me on this one while the other 50% – the half that prefers to see great defensive performances and historic plays – would say Alvin Williams deserves this honour.
Stoudamire gets my vote because he was the main attraction – maybe the only attraction – on those terrible Raptors teams in the early days of the team before Carter and Tracey McGrady came on the scene.
Despite being “the guy” on a team that never won more than 30 games in a single season, Stoudamire managed to score nearly 20 points per game from 1995 until he was traded to the Portland Trailblazers in 1998.
He also held the record for most Raptors triple doubles with three until Lowry broke it in 2014.