Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- Founded: 1995
- Home Arena: Air Canada Centre
- Uniform colors: Purple, Red, Grey, Black, and Silver
- Logo design: A snarling red raptor dribbling a basketball
- NBA Championships: None
- 2004-05 Record: 33-49
Franchise History (By Seasons)
After Isiah Thomas was named the general manager in 1995, he quickly staffed the management with his own personnel, including the first head coach Brandon Malone (who was later reunited with Thomas in the Knicks organization in 2003). Isiah chose to build the franchise around Damon Stoudamire, a point guard out of Arizona. The Raptors' pick of Stoudamire was greeted with boos from those present at the NBA Draft at the SkyDome in Toronto, many of whom bought into the hype surrounding UCLA star Ed O'Bannon. However, Stoudamire proved to be the one bright point in a terrible first season as he won Rookie of the Year honors by averaging 19 points and 9.3 assists per game.
Record: 21 Wins - 61 Losses
The team record improved by 9 games from its inaugural season and attendance was rising. Analysts predicted a playoff-contending or even a championship caliber team in a matter of a few seasons.
Record: 30 Wins - 52 Losses
All optimism evaporated when the team was hit by numerous injuries in early 1997-1998 season. Thomas, a brilliant player and skilled evaluator of talent but lacking in management skills, failed to stop the downfall of the team which led to the dismantling of the core players and resignations of the head coach Darrell Walker and eventually of Thomas himself. When Glen Grunwald was named to succeed Thomas in 1998, virtually nobody thought he could turn the team around, demonstrated by the booing from the crowd when he made his first appearance to Air Canada Centre for a speech. However, the players reacted by playing harder and Marcus Camby earned the first two triple doubles of his career in the last four games of the season.
Record: 16 Wins - 66 Losses
Grunwald showed his better management ability than his predecessor by trading Camby to the Knicks for proven veteran Charles Oakley, whose tough mentality and playoff experience helped the maturity of the young players. Many thought the trade would hurt the team, since he was trading away a promising prospect for an aging veteran. However, Oakley's leadership proved crucial to the success of the 1998-1999 Raptors. The coaching staff temporarily solved the lack of a true point guard by rotating Dee Brown, Alvin Williams and Doug Christie to play the position. This was an excellent move, as Christie greatly refined his defensive game and became one of the elite defenders in NBA. Alvin also showed improvement, on the offensive end. Kevin Willis, another veteran acquired from trade, solidified the center position. With those two holes temporarily filled, the team won more games than ever before. The new coach Butch Carter , besides doing an excellent coaching job, also helped develop the young players on the team, especially future All-Star Tracy McGrady. Although the team did not make the playoffs, many were optimistic with the brilliant performances from the Rookie of the Year Vince Carter and a much improved McGrady.
Record: 23 Wins - 27 Losses (a shortened 50-game schedule)
Grunwald decided that the solution to the Raptors' lack of a true point guard and a strong front court presence would have to come from mature veteran players. He also knew that the aging Willis and Oakley would eventually have to play fewer minutes or risk injury. Thus, during the 1999 draft, he decided to trade first-round draft pick Jonathan Bender for veteran power forward Antonio Davis from the Indiana Pacers, who had been forced to play off the bench behind teammate Dale Davis. In the backcourt, Butch Carter rotated Carter, Christie, Williams and Dell Curry at the shooting guard position and Williams and Muggsy Bogues at point guard. Rotation of Antonio, Oakley and Willis in the front court and the maturation of both Carter and McGrady helped the team make its first ever playoff appearance. However, without significant playoff experience, the Raptors were swept by the New York Knicks in the playoffs.
Progressive team improvements and the rise to fame of Vince Carter attracted many fans around Toronto, many of whom were not previously basketball fans. Increased attendance and change of fan base also helped contribute to the decline of the Toronto Blue Jays. This was also the first season at the Air Canada Centre, after four years of games at the cavernous SkyDome.
Record: 45 Wins - 37 Losses; eliminated in the first round of the playoffs
Playoff failures led Grunwald to replace Butch Carter with Lenny Wilkens, who was a Hall-of-Fame coach and player with more than 30 years of coaching experience. In addition, the team finally found a true point guard, when Grunwald signed veteran playmaker Mark Jackson to a 4-year deal with the team. The season marked the development of Alvin Williams as a clutch performer. He scored three quarters of his points in the 4th quarter during regular season. Jackson was later traded to give more minutes for Williams.
As Vince familarized himself with the shooting guard position and played less time at small forward, Christie became expendable and was traded for small forward Corliss Williamson . However, he was a disappointment and was traded during the season for defensive workhorse Jerome Williams. The loss of former star small forawrd Tracy McGrady was also a factor in the Williamson trade. Although McGrady and Carter showed impressive improvement at the same time, much of the media and fan attention was focused on Carter, who dunked more often and thus was more entertaining to fans. Furthermore, McGrady's natural position is at shooting guard, the same position as Carter. Therefore, Raptors management decided to trade McGrady to the Magic during the 2000 offseason for a first-round draft pick in a sign-and-trade deal.
As predicted by analysts, the team clinched a playoff berth without much difficulty. Toronto beat New York in the first round . Wilkens was credited for having Williams defend shooting guard Allan Houston and Carter defend small forward Latrell Sprewell, the two major offensive threats of the Knicks. In addition, Charles Oakley's remarks incited Vince to "play it like a man", and steady contribution from Antonio Davis prevailed over the less-focused Knicks. The Raptors were also lucky, as Larry Johnson was shut down by a career-ending injury and Marcus Camby was plagued by his family kidnap. These, however, were non-factors, as it was abundantly clear that the Raptors were vastly superior to the overhyped, undertalented Knicks.
The next series against the Philadelphia 76ers was a landmark of exciting, entertaining play, and the best playoff performance by the Raptors so far. The Sixers relied on Allen Iverson and Dikembe Mutombo for their respective offensive and defensive abilities, along with steady help from Aaron McKie and other teammates. Toronto's was much more balanced with Carter, Williams and Davis providing much of the offensive game and Chris Childs and Jerome Williams providing the defensive pressure. Philadelphia took full advantage of its mismatch at center whereas Toronto counteracted with a fast-break offense with their shorter but quicker players. The series came down to the last 4 seconds of Game 7, when Vince Carter missed a fadeaway jumper, losing the series by 1 point.
Record: 47 Wins - 35 Losses; eliminated in the second round of the playoffs
The Raptors' exciting playoff performance attracted even more fans and put unprecendented trust from the owners on Grunwald. In an attempt to satisfy Vince Carter so that he would resign with the team, long-term contracts were given to Alvin Williams, Jerome Williams and Davis, and former All-Star center Hakeem Olajuwon was signed, to provide Carter with a good supporting cast. Altough the team was guaranteed a powerful starting line-up for one season, it was a dangerous gamble as overall player salary almost reached the cap, making significant free-agent signing impossible. Expiring contracts had also been traded away, so unless the Raptors succeeded with their 2001-2002 lineup, it was unlikely they would remain a very competitive team.
The first half of the season ran well with expected contributions from the starters and the improvement Morris Peterson and Keon Clark. In spite of an injury to Antonio Davis in January and a subsequent injury to Carter, the team made a record comeback to clinch a playoff berth.
Record: 42 Wins - 40 Losses; eliminated in the first round of the playoffs
The 2002-03 season began with the same optimisim that the Raptors furnished in three straight playoff appearances. However, right from the beginning of the season that optimism was lost: Carter went through a series of injuries, Davis started to express disinterest in Toronto (reportedly because his wife could not land a TV job in Toronto) and Wilkens' laissez-fair attitude created a team that lacked the motivation and spirit of the previous years' teams. Almost right from day one, the Toronto media went straight for the jugular when it came to Wilkens, chastizing him for his inability- or, perhaps, unwillingness- to really clamp down on his players when he had to (The Toronto Star's Dave Perkins once wrote that all Wilkens could do during a game where the Raptors self-destructed was sit and stand, instead of yelling at his players like Perkins says he should have been doing). This was the year that Wilkens overtook Bill Fitch for the lead in most losses by a NBA coach, with his loss total getting dangerously close to his win total. At the end of the disastrous season (a year marred by defensive breakdowns that still occur today), Wilkens was unceremoniously dumped, ending a three-year stint with the team that started with so much promise but ended with too much disappointment.
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Record: 24 Wins - 58 Losses
The Raptors were inconsistent throughout 03-04, partly due to injuries to key players Jalen Rose, Rod Strickland , Alvin Williams and Vince Carter, with Davis traded early in the season for Rose. After 50 games, though, they were 25-25 and in position to make the playoffs. The team then suffered through a nine-game losing streak in February, dealing them a serious blow in the standings. With eight games to go in the regular season, the Raptors fired Glen Grunwald , the general manager on April 1. Grunwald had been the GM since 1997. The Raptors finished up the season 3 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot. The star individual performers were Carter, with 22.5 points per game, Donyell Marshall , who led the team with 10.7 rebounds per game, and rookie Chris Bosh, a 6-10 forward-center who averaged 11.5 ppg and 7.4 rpg and was named to the rookie all-star team.
Immediately following the season, on April 17, head coach Kevin O'Neill was fired after making some remarks which were taken to question the team's commitment to winning. He was replaced with Sam Mitchell , a former NBA player who had been an assistant coach of the Milwaukee Bucks the previous two seasons. Rob Babcock was named GM on June 7, 2004.
Record: 33 Wins - 49 Losses
Players of note
Not to be forgotten:
- Marcus Camby
- Vince Carter (Vinsanity, Half Human Half Amazing, Air Canada)
- Doug Christie
- Keon Clark
- Antonio Davis
- Tracy McGrady
- Hakeem Olajuwon
- Damon Stoudamire
- Jerome Williams (JYD Junkyard Dog)
- Chris Bosh C/F
- Donyell Marshall PF
- Jalen Rose G
- Alvin Williams G
- Rafer Alston PG
- Morris Peterson F/G
List of Head Coaches
- 1995 - 1996: Brendon Malone
- 1996 - Feb 1998: Darrell Walker
- Feb 1998 - 2000: Butch Carter
- 2000 - 2003: Lenny Wilkens
- 2003 - 2004: Kevin O'Neill
- Current: Sam Mitchell (hired on June 29, 2004)
List of General Managers
- 1995 - March 1998: Isiah Thomas
- March 1998 - April 2004: Glen Grunwald
- Current: Rob Babcock (hired on June 7, 2004)
Significant draft picks of each season
- 1995 7th overall Damon Stoudamire
- 1996 2nd overall Marcus Camby
- 1997 9th overall Tracy McGrady
- 1998 4th overall Antawn Jamison (traded on draft day for 5th overall pick Vince Carter)
- 1999 5th overall Jonathan Bender (traded for Antonio Davis)
- 2000 21st overall Morris Peterson
- 2001 17th overall Michael Bradley
- 2002 20th overall Kareem Rush (draft-day trade for 27th overall Chris Jeffries )
- 2003 4th overall Chris Bosh
- 2004 8th overall Rafael Araujo
Important Player Movements
Note: not all players or conditions are listed, only those affected the team most significantly will be shown
- 1996-1997 season: traded with the New York Knicks for Doug Christie
- 1997-1998 season: traded Damon Stoudamire to the Portland Trail Blazers for Alvin Williams
- 1998 offseason: traded Marcus Camby to the Knicks for Charles Oakley
- 1998 offseason: traded with the Rockets for Kevin Willis
- 1999 draft day: traded 1st round draft pick Jonathan Bender to the Pacers for Antonio Davis
- 1999 offseason: signed Dell Curry
- 1999 offseason: signed Muggsy Bogues
- 2000 offseason: traded Doug Christie to the Kings for Corliss Williamson
- 2000 offseason: traded Tracy McGrady to the Magic for a 1st round draft pick.
- 2000 offseason: signed Mark Jackson
- 2000-2001 season: traded Corliss Williamson to the Detroit Pistons for Jerome Williams
- 2000-2001 season: traded Kevin Willis to the Denver Nuggets for Keon Clark
- 2000-2001 season: traded Mark Jackson to the Knicks for Chris Childs
- 2002 offseason: lost Chris Childs through free agency to the Nets
- 2002 offseason: lost Keon Clark through free agency to the Kings
- 2003-2004 season: traded Jerome Williams and Antonio Davis to the Bulls for Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall
- 2004 offseason: signed Rafer Alston
- 2004- 2005 season: traded Vince Carter to the New Jersey Nets for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, and two future first round draft picks. (December 17, 2004.)
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