By unpopular opinion, DeMar DeRozan has surpassed Vince Carter as the greatest player in Raptors’ history.
While taking the time to express his apology, Uijiri took a moment to praise DeRozan as the greatest player in Raptors history. It’s funny that Uijiri gave his opinion on the Toronto’s GOAT given the fact that he caused the biggest debate of the summer.
In the wake of the trade that sent DeRozan to San Antonio, his rank among the greatest players in franchise history began.
During the early to mid-2000s, Vince Carter became a cultural icon and the reason for the franchise success. His impact and legacy is so great that producer, Aaron Phillips, released a one-hour documentary (The Carter Effect) on how the eight-time all-star made waves in Canadian basketball since he joined the league in 1998.
He may have been the most impactful Raptor, but DeRozan has surpassed Carter as the greatest player in franchise history.
When Vince Carter had the Raptors on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays on the nightly basis, the franchise did not see much success as a team. They only made the playoffs three times and never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.
Not only did Carter fail to lead them past the second round, but never helped the Raptors win more than 47 games. Despite missing the playoffs in his first four seasons, the Raptors saw more success with DeRozan than with Carter.
Since 2014, DeRozan led the Raptors to five straight playoff appearances and even a Conference Finals appearance in 2016. Over the past three seasons, the league watched as DeRozan made the Raptors one of the best teams in the East, as they recorded three straight 50-win seasons.
Although their season came to a premature end, DeRozan led the Raptors to their most successful season in franchise history with 59-wins and leading them to the number one seed this past season.
To fully understand how successful the Raptors were under DeRozan, one should take a look at their overall record. The Raptors were 191-219 in six seasons under Carter, while they improve to 382-340 under DeRozan.
For a franchise that started three years prior to his arrival, Vince Carter once held several records in his six seasons in Toronto.
Despite his departure in 2004, Carter still holds the franchise record in points averaged (23.4 ppg), player efficiency rating (21.8 PER), and usage percentage (29.8 UP) as a Raptor. He also holds the record for most points in a playoff game after scoring 50 points in a win against the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001.
Factor in his record for most points in a single season in 2000 (2,107 points) and almost every record set by Carter was broken by DeRozan. To be called the greatest in team history, one must dominate the team record books, and DeRozan did just that.
During his nine-year tenure in Toronto, DeRozan is currently the franchise leader in almost every category. He leads in points scored (13,296), field goals made (4,716), games played (675), and minutes (22,968).
Earlier this year, DeRozan scored a career-high 52 points during the Raptors 131-127 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. His point total on January 1st wasn’t just a career-high, but also broke Carter’s 17-year record for most points scored in a regular season game.
DeRozan’s argument as the greatest Raptor ever does not stop with his play on the court, but also for awards and acknowledgments.
To go along with his Rookie of the Year honors in 1999, Carter still holds the record for most all-star appearances made by a Raptor with five.
DeRozan came up short for Rookie of the year honors and only became an all-star four times during his time as a Raptor. However, DeRozan’s holds the record for most Conference Players of the Week honors (10) and became a three-time Conference Players of the Month winner; as Carter holds none.
Embracing the 6ix
DeRozan’s greatest accomplishment as a Raptor came by his commitment and loyalty to the city of Toronto. He became the first player in franchise history who wanted to build a legacy in Canada.
In 2016, DeRozan had a chance to leave in free agency and join his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers. The move would have given DeRozan a chance to make more money and build his brand while playing for one of the most historic franchises in sports.
Instead, DeRozan took little under the max and accepted a five-year deal worth $139 million. When he re-sign, DeRozan stated he took pride in putting the Raptors jersey on, and his mindset was always on Toronto.
Unfortunately, the Raptors did not show him the same respect and loyalty and may have traded away their first and only star player who wanted to be in Toronto.
From McGrady to Bosh, despite becoming one of the most popular teams in the league, the Raptors have had a hard time retaining all-star players. However, no loss was more critical than that of Carter.
After he forced his way out of Toronto, Carter went from the most beloved athlete to the most hated player in Canada sports. Fans were not only upset at the fact that he left, but there was a belief that Carter gave up on his team.
Due to the well-known fact that he was unhappy with management at the time, Carter’s production on the court proved this theory to be true.
Coming off a season where he averaged 22.5 points on 41 percent shooting from the field. Carter’s number took a huge dip at the start of the 2004-05 season where he averaged 15.9 points during the first 20 games. Following his trade to the New Jersey Nets, Carter would go on to averaged 27.5 points on 46.2 percent shooting from the field the rest of the season.
Throughout their 23-year history, both Carter and DeRozan did a phenomenal job not only becoming the face of the franchise, but also as the face of a nation.
No disrespect to the other greats, but these are the top two players who have ever played in Toronto. And technically there is not a right or wrong answer of who you consider the GOAT of Raptor’s basketball.
However, due to the facts and proven evidence, DeMar DeRozan is the greatest player in franchise history.