Toronto Raptors: Who is Greatest Player in Franchise History?

Vince Carter and Chris Bosh

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In the Toronto Raptors‘ history, there have been few players that have captured the NBA‘s collective attention while wearing a Raptor uniform. Certainly, many former Raptors have gone to great accomplishments post-Raptor-playing days. Yet, few have done it while actually wearing the Toronto uniform. Hence, any Raptor fan knows that there are really only two candidates for this question: Chris Bosh and Vince Carter. Who accomplished more while in T.O.?

While on the surface this discussion may seem fruitless to some Raptor fans considering Carter and Bosh played completely different positions, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many similarities can be drawn between the two players that gives an even-playing field when discussing their comparative greatness. Of these similarities, the strongest parallel must be that both former Raptors played seven seasons while with Toronto. Carter and Bosh then had an equal amount of opportunities for success while playing in T.O. The second important parallel between the two is that both played in the same era, against the (more or less) same generation of competition.

The classic objection of competing against different generation talent levels isn’t applicable then seeing as how they are both from the same (see any Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan thread for a classic example). Thus, the Bosh-Carter debate is a fair and reasonable discussion to have amongst Raptor fans.

In seven seasons with the Raptors, Carter averaged  23.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.3 SPG and 1.0 BPG while shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from deep. Carter was named the Rookie of the Year, a five-time All Star, an All-NBA Second Team member (2001) and  an All-NBA Third Team member (2000) while also capturing the 2000 Slam dunk Contest.

In comparison, in Bosh’s seven seasons with the dinos, he put up 20.2 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.8 SPG and 1.2 BPG while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from three-point land. Bosh was also named a five-time All Star while in Toronto and in 2006 he was named to the All-NBA Second Team.

Bosh is ranked ahead of Carter on the Raptors all-time career leader board in almost every statistically category. Bosh has 3,614 field goals made to Carter’s 3,541. Bosh has 10,275 points to Carter’s 9,420. Bosh has a higher field goal percentage. Bosh is the all-time leader in double-doubles. The list goes on. Bosh also played 106 more games than Carter while in T.O. That is a testament to both Bosh’s durability and Carter’s fragility as players.

So, Bosh is the greatest Raptor then? Not so fast.

Despite the disgraceful way that Carter’s time in Toronto ended, Carter nonetheless experienced more team success than Bosh did as a direct result of Carter’s play.

In only Carter’s second season in the league, he carried the young franchise to its first playoff berth in the 1999-00 season by averaging 25.7 PPG. In the following season, Carter led Toronto to its first and only (to date) playoff series victory against the New York Knicks, who just a year earlier had made it to Finals. That season Carter also averaged  some true superstar numbers, including 27.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 3.9 APG. Although the Raptors would eventually lose to the Philadelphia 76ers in the conference semi-finals, Carter elevated his own play as well as his team’s in a manner never quite seen before or after in franchise history.

That isn’t to say that Bosh didn’t play at a high level while in Toronto — he did — and it resulted in team some success (by Raptor standards). In the 2006-07 season, Bosh led Toronto to its first playoff berth in over five years, in the process capturing the Raptors  only Atlantic Division title to date. Yet, Bosh failed to make it out of the first round in this very year, along with his entire Raptor career despite having a respectable supporting cast.

OK, so T.J Ford, Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon aren’t quite up to par with Carter’s supporting cast of Tracy McGrady, Charles Oakley, Alvin Williams and the bunch. But Bosh also was tormented by a modest team in the Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson-led Orlando Magic in the postseason while Carter went through a Knicks team full of stars (Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing and etc.) and then pushed one of the greatest little men guards, Allen Iverson, to the brink of elimination in his prime.

Bosh was a very good All-Star player, but unlike Carter, Bosh simply didn’t have that next gear in his game: that superstar gear. In Raptorland, VC must be considered the greatest.

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