Having entered the NBA as an expansion team in 1995, the Toronto Raptors are a relatively young franchise. Still, the team has sent out several great centers over the years. In this piece, we’ll highlight who we believe to be the five best.
No. 5 Marcus Camby
The Raptors drafted Camby with the second overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. He only played two seasons in Toronto, which is why he’s only at No. 5 on this list despite some impressive numbers.
In his first season with the Raptors, Camby racked up averages of 14.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. As a result, he earned All-Rookie First-Team honors. In the following season, he led the entire NBA in blocked shots with 3.7 per game.
Ultimately, though, Toronto decided to trade the former UMass standout for an aging Charles Oakley.
4. Marc Gasol
Gasol spent the majority of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies before coming to Toronto via trade during the 2018-19 season. For this reason, he ranks a bit lower on our list, but he’s still above Camby because of his contributions to a champion.
With his pass-first style of play and stellar defense in the middle, Gasol solidified the Raptors’ frontcourt last season. The Spanish-born big man helped Toronto reach the 2019 NBA Finals, where they defeated the Golden State Warriors in six games to claim the team’s first championship.
A three-time All-Star and former All-NBA First-Team selection, Marc Gasol quietly became one of the best bigs in the league during his time in Memphis. The Raptors version isn’t quite as good, but he still makes an impact.
3. Antonio Davis
Davis served two stints with Toronto, though the latter was short-lived due to a back injury. In his first season with the Raptors (1999-2000), he helped the team reach the postseason for the first time in franchise history. Unfortunately, though, Toronto was swept by the New York Knicks in the first round.
Davis’ best statistical performance with the team came during the 2000-01 campaign, when he averaged a double-double (13.7 points and 10.1 rebounds) and made it to the All-Star Game.
In his third season with Toronto (2001-02), Davis helped the Raptors reach the Eastern Conference Playoffs again, but they were eliminated by the Detroit Pistons in five games.
2. Jonas Valanciunas
Though he’s no longer a member of the team, there is no question that Jonas Valanciunas is one of the best centers in Raptors history.
Toronto drafted Jonas with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. With each passing season, his stats continued to improve.
At 6-11 and 265 pounds, Valanciunas is the definition of a bruiser. Though he’s known as a rebounding machine, the Lithuanian-born big man has adapted his game over the years to improve on his passing and shooting skills.
Jonas put up several outstanding performances with the Raptors, including a 21-point, 21-rebound double-double in an overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Were it not for our next all-time great Raptors center, Valanciunas would be ranked No. 1 on this list.
1. Chris Bosh
There can really only be one answer when it comes to picking the best center in Raptors history. Many NBA fans will remember Chris Bosh in a Miami Heat uniform, but he was equally good (arguably even better) with Toronto.
The Raptors selected Bosh with the fourth overall pick in the now-famous 2003 NBA Draft — the same draft that brought LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade into the league. Within a relatively short period of time, it became clear that Bosh would be Toronto’s No. 1 option.
In his third season with Toronto, Bosh turned in averages of 22.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. As a result of his outstanding play, he was selected to the All-Star Game for the first time of his career.
To this day, Bosh is still the Raptors’ all-time leader in several categories, including rebounds (both offensive and defensive), blocks (600) and double-doubles. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket is also second on Toronto’s all-time scoring list, trailing only DeMar DeRozan.
Sadly, Bosh’s career would later be cut short due to a bout of blood clotting in his lung. In February 2019, the potential future Hall of Famer announced that he would no longer be pursuing a career in basketball.