When DeMar DeRozan said that he wanted to be the greatest Toronto Raptors player in franchise history at the start of the season, few knew he was going to have a historic year to backup his claim.
After appearing to take a step forward in his development a year ago, the 27-year-old DeRozan returned for the 2016-17 campaign showing even more signs of improvement. Finishing the year as a top-five scorer in the league, the dynamic guard was an All-Star for a third time and voted in as an Eastern Conference starter for the first time in his career.
Though DeRozan’s 27.3 points per game rank second on the list behind Vince Carter, his nine win shares are actually below his output from a year ago, suggesting his current campaign isn’t as efficient a scoring season as many have made it out to be. Having said that, it can’t be denied that DeRozan has carried the offensive load many nights, especially since the All-Star break with Kyle Lowry sidelined for most of the second half.
The accolades suggest DeRozan’s season deserves to be placed among the Raptors’ greatest individual efforts. Here’s a look at some of the best seasons in Raptors franchise history.
Vince Carter, 2000-01
In all of Carter’s years with Toronto, none is as memorable as his campaign at the turn of the century, when the former UNC Tarheel almost sent the Raptors to the Conference Finals with a last-second shot attempt to beat the Philadelphia 76ers. Alas, the shot fell short, but Carter’s season may have been the best Toronto has ever seen.
Along with setting a Raptors single-season record with 27.6 points per game and finishing fifth overall in scoring, the eight time All-Star also achieved a franchise-best 12.9 win shares, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Kyle Lowry, 2015-16
What makes DeRozan’s rise even more surprising is the stellar play of Lowry last season. Not to say the All-Star guard has fallen far from the mark set last year, but it was an exceptional campaign that is hard to rival.
Looking at win shares, Lowry posted 11.6, good for second on the Raptors’ all-time list. Considering Toronto won a franchise-record 56 games and reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time, it’s safe to say 31-year-old point guard was a big reason for the most successful season in team history.
Though the argument can be made that Lowry is having a better season this year because he’s averaging more points, assists, rebounds and 3-pointers, the time missed due to injury and the team’s overall depth make his follow up effort not quite as impressive as his first.
Chris Bosh, 2009-10
In his final season with Toronto, Bosh posted career highs in points and rebounds per game at 24 and 10.8 respectively.
It was also one of the most efficient years from the floor for the 11-time All-Star, who shot over 51 percent – his highest average while with the Raptors.
Though his 10.3 win shares are good for third on the Raptors’ all-time list, Toronto was unable to qualify for the postseason that year, finishing a disappointing 40-42.