The Toronto Raptors are always under a lot of pressure to succeed, given how they're Canada's only NBA team. Though this franchise is currently enjoying its most successful run in franchise history, it's hard for fans to forget about the 1.5 decades of constant struggling. The Raptors made a number of questionable decisions, ranging from porous draft selections to terrible trades and free agent signings.
Given how the franchise is barely two decades old, it's easy for Raptors fans to look back on some players that flopped big time in the Great White North. Toronto has finally overcome a series of one-sided trades and money-wasting contracts on players who failed to pan out.
Even if this team were to win the next five championships, it doesn't take away some of the frustrating players fans had to watch over the years. Here is a look at 15 Raptors players the fans would love to forget about.
15 Early Exit in 2014 Playoffs
The Raptors took the NBA by storm in 2013-14, winning 48 games and capturing the Atlantic Division title. It was their first playoff season in six years, as DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry enjoyed incredible seasons. They had great depth with Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas and Patrick Patterson, too.
Toronto got to face the inconsistent Brooklyn Nets in the opening round, who won 44 games and struggled at times despite having future Hall of Famers in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. But the Raptors showed they weren't ready for the playoffs, as the Nets eliminated them in a close seven-game series.
For the Raptors, a storied season for the franchise ended early. The Nets barely got into the playoffs with ageing stars but ended up winning the series. It was quite an embarrassment for Toronto, to say the least.
14 Maceo Baston
Maceo Baston was drafted by the Chicago Bulls after the team capped off its second three-peat of the '90s. But Baston would play in leagues across the world -- namely in Italy and Spain, before coming back to the NBA in 2003. The Raptors gave Baston a chance, but he played in just 16 games and put up 2.5 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. Baston then went to play professional in Israel for three years.
Baston then joined the Indiana Pacers for the 2006-07 season, and registered 15.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. The Raptors noticed this and acquired Baston and Jermaine O'Neal in a blockbuster trade that sent standout point guard T.J. Ford to the Pacers.
But Baston's go-around with Toronto was another disappointment, as he had just 2.7 points per game. That was two stints that left Raptors fans with a lot to be desired, and a ton they wanted to forget.
13 Signing Landry Fields
The New York Knicks drafted Landry Fields in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft. The Stanford alumni showed early promise with the Knicks, shooting .497 from the field while posting 9.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. The Knicks appeared to have a star on their hands, until Fields suffered from the infamous sophomore slump.
In 2011-12, Fields shot just .460 from the field and saw his three-point shooting percentage go from .393 a year prior to .460 in his second season. Fields did register a solid 8.8 points and 2.6 assists per game, though. The Raptors thought it was enough to sign Fields to an offer sheet, for three-years at $20 million. That would end up being $20 million they wish they got back.
Fields struggled in his three seasons north of the border. In his first season with the Raptors, Fields registered just 4.7 points per game with a woeful .143 three-point shooting percentage. Fields averaged 2.3 points a game in 2013-14 and 1.8 in 2014-15, before retiring from the NBA.
12 Failed Vince Carter Trade
When Vince Carter asked the Raptors to trade him, it was originally a devastating moment for the franchise and its fans. How could the superstar and slam dunk master want out of Canada? The Raptors had to trade him to the New Jersey Nets, but there appeared to be a silver lining, as the Raptors return was bound to be something special.
One of the pieces they got in return was veteran power forward Aaron Williams, who was four years removed from a 10.2 points-per-game season with the Nets. But Williams struggled big-time with the Raptors. In his brief tenure there, he never averaged more than 4.6 points in a game. He didn't do much on defence and wasn't able to provide much depth from the bench. It ended up being a robbery of a trade for the Nets.
Eric Williams also came over in the trade and didn't do much. As was veteran Alonzo Mourning, who never played a game for the Raptors. They didn't do much with those two first-round selections.
11 Kris Humphries
If there's one thing Raptors fans will happily remember about Kris Humphries, it'll be his 72-day marriage to Kim Kardashian. Even then, the only Raptors fans who'll happily remember that will have to be people who enjoyed watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Besides that short-lived marriage, Humphries didn't leave much to remember in Toronto.
He was drafted 14th-overall by the Utah Jazz in 2004 but struggled during his time there. They traded him to the Raptors in exchange for fellow draft bust, Rafael Araujo. Humphries spent three seasons with Toronto, but failed to leave much of an impact with the team.
In his first year with Toronto, Humphries averaged just 3.8 points per game. Over his next two years with the Raptors, Humphries averaged 5.7 and 3.9 points per game. The Raptors would later trade him to the Dallas Mavericks, ending a disappointing three years in Canada.
10 Trading for Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon was one of the most dominant players in the '90s, leading the Houston Rockets to the NBA Championship in 1994 and 1995. Olajuwon was also named the NBA Finals MVP both years and won the league MVP in 1994. The 12-time All-Star was named to the All-NBA First Team six times and to the All-Defensive First Team five times. So why wouldn't the Raptors want Olajuwon? The Hall of Famer averaged 21.8 and 11.1 rebounds per game!
As Olajuwon began to enter his twilight years, the Rockets traded him to the Raptors for multiple draft picks. Olajuwon averaged just 7.1 points and 1.1 assists per game -- numbers that were among the worst of his career. The Raptors thought the veteran was the missing piece to a championship, but they sacrificed future assets for Olajuwon and would regret it.
9 Trading for Jermaine O'Neal
Jermaine O'Neal was a standout on the Indiana Pacers, reaching six All-Star games and averaged 13.2 points per game in his career. The Raptors decided to pull off a blockbuster and trade slick point guard T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and a 2008 first-round pick for O'Neal and Nathan Jawai. Ford posted double-digit points per game in his two years with Toronto and was instrumental in helping them win the Atlantic Division in 2007.
Well, the Raptors wish there was a mulligan attached to O'Neal in the trade. He averaged 13.5 points per game, even though he was just a few seasons removed from putting up over 20 most nights. O'Neal also averaged just 1.6 assists per game after averaging 2.2 the season before. He would be packaged in a deal with the Miami Heat that brought Shawn Marion over to Toronto.
8 Acquiring Hedo Turkoglu
Hedo Turkoglu was a standout on the Orlando Magic, averaging at least 14 points per game every year from 2004-05 to 2008-09. In the 2007-08 campaign, Turkoglu averaged 19.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting .456 from the field. The Raptors liked what they saw from Turkoglu and agreed to a four-team trade that brought Turkoglu over to Canada. It looked like they finally had another star to help out Chris Bosh.
Turkoglu struggled with Toronto in the 2009-10 season, averaging just 11.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. They were far off the numbers he posted with the Magic and Turkoglu failed to find a fit in the Raptors' system. He'd go on television and explain his that he wasn't happy with management. Turkoglu requested a trade and was dealt to the Phoenix Suns, ending another disastrous player tenure in Toronto.
7 Drafting Rafael Araujo
The Raptors owned the eighth-overall selection in the 2004 NBA Draft, which was home to a number of future NBA studs. Toronto drafted Rafael Araujo, while the Philadelphia 76ers took future NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala with the next pick. Defensive stalwart Al Jefferson (16.7 points per game in his career, by the way), went 15th-overall to the Boston Celtics.
Jameer Nelson and Delonte West were other draft picks that were taken after Araujo. The towering 6-feet-11 Brazilian was supposed to complement Chris Bosh and Vince Carter, but Toronto really didn't get what they bargained for. In his rookie season, Araujo averaged just 3.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. The next season, he averaged 2.3 points per game. He'd spend a season with the Utah Jazz before taking his talents overseas to play in Russia.
6 Wasting No. 2 Pick in 1996
To be fair, there were a handful of teams that didn't draft The Black Mamba, but at least some teams ended up with stars like Antoine Walker and Ray Allen. The Raptors had the second-overall pick in 1996, but they drafted Marcus Camby and passed on Kobe Bryant -- whom the Charlotte Hornets took 13th-overall before trading him to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Camby was among the NBA's premier defensive players during his time, but obviously wasn't anything close to Bryant. He was the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year, led the league in blocks four times and was named to four All-Defensive Teams. The only problem? Camby spent just two seasons in Toronto. The 14.8 points per game he averaged in his rookie season were the best of Camby's career. But Toronto traded him for an ageing Charles Oakley, who didn't leave much of an impact with the Raptors.
5 Letting Tracy McGrady Go
The Raptors drafted Tracy McGrady ninth-overall in 1997, and had a future superstar on their hands. The only problem is T-Mac's best years weren't with Toronto. He struggled in his first two years then made progress in 1999-2000 with 15.4 points and 3.3 assists per game. Following a first-round sweep from the New York Knicks, Toronto let McGrady sign with the Orlando Magic for six years worth $67.5 million.
McGrady became a superstar after that, averaging 26.8 points per game and shooting .457 from the field. McGrady became one of the league's ultra-stars from there, consistently averaging seven assists and 25 points a game. He was a seven-time All-Star and led the league in scoring during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. McGrady averaged 19.6 points per game in his illustrious career, leaving Toronto with a lot to be desired.
4 Chris Bosh Jumping Ship
Some Raptors fans may want to remember all of the great stuff CB4 did for the Raptors -- which included an Atlantic Division title in 2007 plus another playoff berth in 2008. But the majority of Toronto fans have to have a sour thought of Chris Bosh, who pulled a LeBron James by betraying his squad to form a superteam with the Miami Heat. Bosh was a five-time All-Star in Toronto and averaged over 20 points per game every year from 2006 to 2010.
He quickly helped the Raptors forget about ultra star Vince Carter, who infamously asked for a trade and went to the New Jersey Nets. But Bosh didn't want to stay loyal to the team who drafted him. Once he and James joined Dwyane Wade in Miami, the rest of the east knew they had no chance. Miami won two NBA Championships, thanks to Bosh ditching the team that made him a legend.
3 Drafting Andrea Bargnani First-Overall
The 2006 NBA Draft lottery was one by none other than the Toronto Raptors. With Chris Bosh already a bonafide superstar, the franchise had a chance to add another weapon to turn this franchise's fortunes around. Though the 2006 Draft wasn't strong to begin with, it did feature future stars in Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, and Paul Millsap. The Raptors opted to choose towering Italian power forward Andrea Bargnani with the top selection.
Though Bargnani wasn't the biggest flop in the world, he was far from the superstar Toronto had hoped for. He did average double-digit points in his seven seasons there, but his rebounding and defence wasn't that great. Bargnani was not the mega-impact player that came as advertised. Toronto would later trade him to New York, cutting ties with a wasted first-overall pick.
2 Vince Carter Misses THE Shot
The Raptors won 47 games during the 2000-01 season and locked up the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Vince Carter led his crew to an upset over the New York Knicks in the opening round, and they got to face Allen Iverson's Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the playoffs.
Toronto put up a surprisingly huge fight over the heavily-favoured 76ers, leading the series 1-0 and 2-1. Philadelphia took a 3-2 series lead, but Toronto won Game 6 to force a winner-take-all Game 7. The game went down to the wire, with Philadelphia leading 88-87. There were two seconds left on the clock, and Toronto had time for one more inbound play and shot. Carter was given the ball and made a nice fake to get an open shot. Carter's deep two hit the back of the rim, and Philadelphia won the series by a hair.
Now, it was obviously special for the Raptors to get that far into the postseason. But to think they were inches away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals...
1 Meltdown in 2015
The Raptors were the pleasant surprise of 2013-14, winning 48 games and winning the Atlantic Division title. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry broke through together and brought the playoffs back to Canada for the first time in six years. However, the Brooklyn Nets would take out the Raptors in a thrilling seven-game series in the first round.
But things were looking up for the Raptors a year later. LeBron James left the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference was wide open. The Raptors sat at 24-7 on Dec. 28, 2014 -- while the Cavaliers sat at 18-12. Toronto entered the new year as the team to beat in the East. They just had to stick to their game.
Once the calendar turned to 2015, everything fell apart. Toronto lost three straight to start the new year and finished a lackluster 25-25. They locked down the fourth seed and faced the Washington Wizards in the opening round of the playoffs, only to be swept out of it.
So much for being a championship contender...
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