• jonathane95

Toronto Raptors Mount Rushmore

OTG Basketball presents, NBA Mount Rushmore, where we look at who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of each team in the league. Up next, is the Toronto Raptors.

DeMar DeRozan

When Chris Bosh left Toronto in the summer of 2010, the franchise was in a bad place. Chris had joined the list of talented players that didn’t want to be in Toronto – Vince Carter and Damon Stoudemire forced their way out, Tracy McGrady left in free agency, and Alonzo Mourning simply refused to play. DeRozan was different – since being drafted 9th overall in 2009, he made it his mission to change the narrative and put Toronto on the NBA map.

After missing the playoffs for 3 straight seasons following Bosh’s departure, the Raptors finally broke through and to this day are currently on the third-longest streak of playoffs appearances in the NBA. None of that is possible without DeRozan who became a 4-time All-Star and was named All-NBA twice during his time with the Raptors. When he re-signed with Toronto in 2016, he didn’t take a single meeting with another team sending a message, not only to the city of Toronto, but the entire NBA.

At the time of his departure in 2018, DeMar had averaged 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game. He also was the all-time leader in Games Played, Minutes, Points, Field-goals, and Free-throws.

Vince Carter

Vince Carter left Toronto in just about as bad of a fashion possible – and for almost ten years, every time Vince returned to the then Air Canada Centre, he was mercilessly booed. It wasn’t until his return in 2014 as a member of the Grizzlies, that fans finally let go of the past.

Regardless of how it ended, Vince must be credited with forever changing basketball in not just Toronto, but the entire country of Canada. Vince was the perfect player to build excitement around NBA basketball – whether it was an electrifying dunk, a game-winning three or an acrobatic finish at the rim, VC delivered. The buzz around the Raptors was too loud to ignore and Vince single-handedly inspired an entire generation of Canadian hoopers and the spike in Canadian talent around the league can be directly tied to Vince Carter and the way he played the game.

It ended in utter heartbreak, but then again, they say you never forget your first love.

Kawhi Leonard

I’m here for a good time, not a long time” - Drake

In just one season with the Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard completely transformed the legacy of the franchise, playing the biggest role in the team’s first-ever championship. Kawhi appeared in just 84 total games, but his impact is immortal. No longer are the Raptors the team that loses to heart-breaking buzzer-beaters, because he hit the game-winners. No longer are they the team that loses big leads, because he led them to gutsy comebacks. And no longer are they the team that always comes up short, because he led them to their first NBA championship.

Kawhi Leonard is the most talented basketball player to have ever worn a Toronto Raptors jersey, and like so many talented players before him, he ultimately decided that his future was elsewhere. However, Kawhi’s legacy, unlike some of the others, is completely protected because he didn’t leave with any unfinished business.

Despite his short tenure, Kawhi ranks third in all-time playoffs scoring and is responsible for three of the five highest scoring playoff performances in Raptors history. He is also the only player to make an All-Defensive team during their Raptors tenure.

Kyle Lowry

Of all the players that could be on this list, none deserve the honor more so than Kyle Lowry. Kyle was traded to the Raptors in 2012 from the Houston Rockets, and since that point has been the heart and soul of the most successful run in Toronto Raptors history, capping it off by helping the team capture their first NBA Championship. Lowry’s story is still being written in Toronto which is impressive given everything he has already accomplished in 8 seasons.

Since Kyle landed in Toronto, he has consistently averaged 18 points and 7 assists, has been named an All-Star six times and even earned an All-NBA nod in 2016. Perhaps the most ironic part of his tenure is that Kyle has never been Toronto’s most talented player, yet he is undoubtedly the Greatest Toronto Raptor of all-time.

For now, Kyle is the franchise’s all-time regular season Assist and Steals leader and is the all-time playoff leader in Games Played, Minutes, Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Field-goals and 3PT Field-goals.