Editor’s Note: The modern era of the NBA is generally accepted to have begun with the 1979-80 season, the advent of the 3-point line in the NBA. The lists to follow—one for each of the NBA’s 30 teams—will only consider seasons since 1979-80. We continue the series today with the best of the Toronto Raptors.
The Toronto Raptors were one of two Canadian teams to enter the NBA in 1995, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, who departed for Memphis in 2001.
Sustained success has been elusive north of the border, however. In 19 seasons, the Raptors have only made the playoffs six times and have advanced beyond the first round just once, a seven-game loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2001.
Toronto is, however, coming off its best season in franchise history, having won 48 games in 2013-14 and winning just its second division title (the first was in 2006-07).
The low-water mark came in the Raptors’ third season, when they were just 16-66 in 1997-98.
The Raptors have had eight coaches in 19 years, with Sam Mitchell the winningest coach in franchise history. Mitchell’s teams were 156-189 from 2004-05 through the first 17 games of the 2008-09 campaign. He was also the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2006-07. Lenny Wilkens was 113-133 in three seasons in Toronto and Dwane Casey, the current coach, is 105-125 in parts of three seasons at the helm.
Hall of Fame player Isiah Thomas was the first personnel manager for the Raptors and they have had a pair of executives hold the position for at least six years. Bryan Colangelo was the general manager from February 2006 until May 2013 and Glen Grunwald made the decisions from November 1997 through April 2004.
Toronto’s longest string of consecutive playoff appearances is three, from 2000-02, and they have never been out of the postseason for more than five straight years.
Here are the best players, by position, for the Toronto Raptors in the modern era, beginning in 1979-80. Players had to have played 200 games for the franchise and averaged 25 minutes per game.