The Toronto Raptors joined the NBA in 1995 as part of the league’s half-successful Canadian invasion. Who are the 25 best players ever for the Raptors?
The Toronto Raptors are one of the newest teams in the NBA, part of the Association’s half-successful Canadian migration of 1995.
A group headed by Toronto businessman John Bitove paid a $125 million expansion fee when they were awarded a franchise in November 1993 that would start play for the 1995-96 season, along with a new club in Vancouver.
It was Toronto’s first NBA franchise, but the city had a charter entry in its forerunner, the Basketball Association of America.
The Toronto Huskies played in the BAA’s inaugural season in 1946-47, used four coaches, finished tied for last in the Eastern Division at 22-38 and disappeared to the dustbin of history after the single campaign.
While initial sentiment favored bringing back the Huskies moniker, it soon became apparent that designing a logo that wouldn’t closely resemble that of the still-relatively new Minnesota Timberwolves would be almost impossible.
The Raptors choice was announced in May 1994 in one of the ultimate examples of being caught in a pop-culture moment—the film Jurassic Park had been a box office smash the previous year.
In November 1996, Bitove sold controlling interest in the team to Allan Sleight.
Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd., which also owns the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, purchased the team in February 1998 and remains in control of the franchise.
The franchise has had seven general managers/personnel decision-makers, with Bryan Colangelo the longest-tenured of the group from February 2006 through May 2013. Glen Grunwald held the post from November 1997 through April 2004.
Current general manager Masai Ujiri assumed his post in May 2013.
Colangelo is the only executive in Raptors history to win the NBA Executive of the Year award, capturing the honor in 2006-07.
The club has had eight coaches in its 21 seasons, with current coach Dwane Casey the winningest of the bunch at 210-185 in the regular season and 13-18 in the playoffs.
Sam Mitchell is the lone NBA Coach of the Year winner, named in 2006-07.
The Raptors are 734-940 in their history, a winning percentage of .438 that ranks 26th among the 30 active franchises.
Toronto has been to the playoffs only eight times in 21 seasons, but is in the midst of the most successful stretch in franchise history.
The Raptors set a franchise record for victories in 2015-16–the third straight season they’ve done so. They were 56-26 for the team’s first 50-win season ever and advanced to the conference finals for the first time, posting their first two best-of-7 series victories in the process.
Previously, they had one first-round series–a best-of-5–in 2001.
Toronto’s low-water mark came when it was 16-66 in 1997-98, one of three 60-loss seasons for the franchise. The Raptors were 21-61 in their expansion season of 1995-96 and went 22-60 in 2010-11.
They have won the NBA Draft Lottery once, in 2006, selecting Italian big man Andrea Bargnani.
The Raptors picked second in 1996 and have had the fourth and fifth picks twice each.
Here are the 25 best players in the history of the Toronto Raptors. Players had to have appeared in 150 games and averaged a minimum of 20 minutes per game for the team to qualify for this list.
Full disclosure: Only 27 players met the 150-game/20-mpg standard.
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