Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors

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Toronto Raptors Team History

The only NBA team currently based in Canada, the Toronto Raptors began as an NBA expansion team that started to play in 1995 along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, who would later leave for Memphis, leaving the Raptors as the only team north of the U.S. border. After some early struggles, the franchise’s fortunes began to turn with the arrival of Vince Carter, who would lead the team to its first playoff series, a 3-0 sweep in the first round by the New York Knicks. The team would see a revival in the late 2000s and 2010s, winning six division titles during that span, including five from 2014 to 2019.

Toronto Raptors Championships

After failing to make an NBA Finals for the first two decades of its existence, the club finally made the championship series in 2019. Led by Kawhi Leonard, who was acquired in a trade during the offseason for a one-year loan, the Raptors downed the Philadelphia 76ers and the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks en route to a championship date with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors had played in the previous four NBA championships, winning the past two titles. The Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors to clinch the franchise’s first title. With Leonard leaving in free agency, the Raptors will face an uphill battle defending their championship.

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Toronto Raptors Famous Players and Hall of Famers

One of the first stars for the Toronto Raptors, Vince Carter, electrified fans with his knack for scoring and highlight reel-worthy plays. Carter began his record-setting 22-season career with the Raptors. An eight-time NBA All-Star, Carter was also named the Rookie of the Year in 1999 and won the Slam Dunk Contest, putting the Raptors on the map. Carter has since played for several other teams (New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks). However, he still ranks near the top of several of the Raptors’ records, including third for most points scored with 9,420 points and fourth in blocks with 415 blocks.

From 2009 to 2018, the Raptors were DeMar DeRozan’s team, leading them to several playoff appearances during his tenure in Toronto. A four-time NBA All-Star, DeRozan currently holds the record for a consecutive number of seasons played with the Raptors with nine seasons. A fan favorite in Toronto, DeRozan was sent to the San Antonio Spurs in 2018 in the trade to bring Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors, meaning DeRozan missed out on Toronto’s first championship in 2019. Regardless of his lack of a championship with the Raptors, DeRozan still ranks top among all Toronto players in scoring with 13,296 regular-season points. DeRozan also ranks fifth in rebounding (2,739), third in defensive rebounding (2,225), third in assists (2,078), and third in steals (746).

Honorable mention: While Kawhi Leonard only spent one season in Toronto, he did lead the franchise to its first NBA championship. While Leonard did leave for the Los Angeles Clippers, fans, for the most part, are thankful for his stint with the Raptors in bringing a title to Canada.

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