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You’re in your second semester of AP Basketball History, you love really good teams, and you love lists. With precious little drama left in the NBA’s 2015 offseason, why don’t we hit the barroom and/or barbershop, pour ourselves a frosty mug of Barbicide, and get to arguin’ over each franchise’s most formidable starting five-man lineup.
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Because we don’t like making tough decisions, the lineups will reflect the All-NBA line of thinking. There will be no differentiation between separate forward and guard positions, and the squads will be chosen after careful consideration of individual merits only – we don’t really care if your team’s top shooting guard and point guard don’t get along.
These rankings will roll out based on when each franchise began its NBA life. We continue with the Toronto Raptors, a team with a rather boisterous fan base.
C: Antonio Davis. One of the rare “we need to trade for an old guy before this gets out of hand” transactions that actually worked, Davis was dealt for the prep prize of the 1999 NBA draft (Jonathan Bender, a fantastic talent whose body betrayed him) before turning in six rough and tumble seasons with the Raps. Davis waited until age 31 to become a starter in Toronto after years in Indiana, but he bloomed in the role; averaging 12.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while making the 2001 NBA All-Star team.
F: Chris Bosh. CB3 upped and fled from Toronto in 2010, but not before cobbling together a sterling career with the Raptors, acting as the needed franchise force as Vince Carter sulked his way out of town. Drafted as a skinny 19-year old in 2003, Bosh still remained quite skinny (if we’re honest) but also rather potent on his way toward five All-Star berths and averages of over 20 points, nine rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game with the team in seven seasons.
F: Amir Johnson. A top-end role player, Johnson’s longevity won out over several other forward candidates. An expert screen-setter, Johnson also did whatever it took on the defensive end during his seven years with the team, which featured averages of 8.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and a block per game in 25 minutes a contest. And if Raptor fans aren’t happy with this selection, they’re warned to skip the part about who, exactly, Amir beat out (don’t see below).
G: Vince Carter. His exit from Toronto was disgraceful, Carter basically quit on the Raptors at the start of the 2004-05 season prior to forcing a trade to New Jersey that was ridiculously one-sided (Toronto got Alonzo Mourning, who was paid to never play for the team, Aaron Williams and Eric Williams and a draft pick that turned into Joey Graham; Carter went on to average 25 a game in his first season with the Nets). Prior to that, however, Carter acted as the face of a franchise that nearly made the Eastern Conference finals while making five All-Star teams. He averaged 23.4 points a game with the Raps, alongside 5.2 rebounds.
G: DeMar DeRozan. It may seem a bit of a stretch to award all-time status to someone who just turned 26, while taking in one (dubious, in light of Kyle Lowry’s presence on the Raptors in 2014) All-Star nod along the way, but DeRozan has performed well enough to merit inclusion. He’s averaged over 20 points twice with Toronto and over 17 a game on his six-year career, helping keep the team competitive during times of storm and stress.
You don’t like Amir Johnson? Would you prefer, say, Andrea Bargnani? He’s fourth all-time in Raptors history in points, field goals made, and even rebounds. And Andrea Bargnani is a terrible rebounder. Charles Oakley only played three seasons with the Raptors, and Marcus Camby (at center) played just two injury-snagged seasons with the team.
Morris Peterson might be “Mr. Raptor” at this point, but it is important to remember that while it felt like he did play for the Raptors for ages on end, he truly only spent seven years with the franchise (averaging 12 points per game along the way). DeRozan’s 2015-16 campaign will be his seventh with the team. Mo Pete was a sane, steady presence at a time when the Raptors needed it most.
Doug Christie was a little more off-kilter, but absolutely nobody guarded Michael Jordan better during his second run of championships with the Chicago Bulls, and Doug averaged 14 points per game in over 300 contests with the Raps. Alvin Williams came into his own with Toronto during the Carter-led peak years, and while his stats (over nine points and four assists a game) won’t astound, he remains rightfully beloved by the fan base.
Damon Stoudamire played just over two and a half seasons with the club before requesting a trade, but he won the Rookie of the Year in 1996. Jose Calderon spent eight seasons with Toronto and, we’re assured, only turned the ball over 18 times during his tenure. Kyle Lowry was an All-Star in 2015 and has a chance to displace DeRozan before his career in Toronto is over.
That’s our five. Who are you going with?
Previous entries: Golden State. Boston. New York. Detroit. Sacramento. Los Angeles Lakers. Atlanta. Philadelphia. Washington. Chicago. Houston. Seattle/Oklahoma City. Phoenix. Milwaukee. Los Angeles Clippers. Cleveland. Portland. Utah. Brooklyn. Indiana. San Antonio. Denver. Dallas. Charlotte. Miami. Minnesota. Orlando.
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