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Raptors, Raptors small forwards

The top 5 small forwards in Toronto Raptors franchise history, ranked

The Toronto Raptors have seen quite a few players pass through during their 25 years as a franchise, including at the small forward position.

As we look at the top small forwards in Raptors history, a quick note on Vince Carter. The future Hall of Famer was drafted as a small forward and played his first three seasons as one, getting the nod over his cousin Tracy McGrady, who entered the league a year earlier. Yet Carter played as a shooting guard for the majority of his years in Toronto and for most of his career in the NBA, so he’s ranked No. 1 on our top Raptors shooting guards list here.

Without further adieu, the five best Raptors small forwards ever.

5. Terrence Ross

It hasn’t been that long since a young Terrence Ross started to find his footing in the league with the Toronto Raptors. The Portland, Oregon native spent his first four and a half seasons in Canada as a part-time starter at shooting guard and small forward.

Ross was an athletic swingman with incredible hops coming into the league. He soon developed a feathery touch from distance, knocking down 39.5% of his shots from deep in his second years in the league.

He averaged a mere 9.5 points and 2.6 rebounds during his brief stint with Toronto, but he was exciting as hell to watch and one of the reasons the Raptors were still a team worth watching after Chris Bosh left for Miami at the turn of the decade.

4. Jalen Rose

Jalen Rose’s short-lived career with the Toronto Raptors was plagued with taking the bulk of an 81-point barrage from Kobe Bryant. Yet the smooth lefty was not half bad during his early 30s in the great north.

The now-popular ESPN personality and former member of “The Fab Five” averaged 16.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists during his cup of tea in Toronto.

Rose played point guard, shooting guard, and small forward during his stint with the Raptors, but considering he played at SF for most of his NBA career, it’s only right he makes this list.

The lefty might want to forget the time he donned the Raptors uniform due to the countless times he has heard the number “81” tossed his way, but some just haven’t forgotten.

3. Tracy McGrady

No list of Raptors greats is complete without Tracy McGrady. The former Mt. Zion Christian Academy alum was actually a small forward during his first three years in the league, though those were three years mostly coming off the bench.

The gifted scorer didn’t have his best years in Toronto, ultimately leaving after being overshadowed by his cousin, Vince Carter, for two of his three years in Canada. Carter was also a small forward coming out of North Carolina, who got the nod to start over McGrady after taking part in a draft-day swap with the Golden State Warriors for fellow Tar Heel Antawn Jamison.

McGrady wasn’t remotely the demonic scorer he was when he eventually moved on to play with the Orlando Magic after his third season in the league, but he was still plenty impressive.

The 6-foot-8 wing averaged 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.4 blocks and a steal in his first three seasons — not too shabby for a would-be scoring champion.

2. Morris Peterson

Mo Pete is perhaps one of the most symbolic players in Raptors lore as a constant presence on the floor. The Michigan State product spent his first seven years with Toronto as a lefty shotmaker and a solid defender.

Known for his signature headband and his trademark lefty stroke, Peterson played four of his seven seasons as a small forward, sliding to the shooting guard spot soon after Chris Bosh was drafted by the organization.

Averages of 12.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and a steal through 542 games make Peterson one of the most constant players at the small forward position in franchise history.

1. Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard might have only spent one season in Toronto, but he was undoubtedly the very best player to put on the uniform.

It didn’t start that way, though, with plenty of anxiety about his playing condition after taking most of the 2017-18 season off (only played in nine games) with a quad injury.

His return to health had its questions, as he appeared in only 60 regular-season games with the constant load management protocol. Yet not many can argue with the final results considering Leonard suited up for every one of the Raptors’ 24 playoff games and played big minutes, a whopping 39.1 average.

Leonard was Jordan-esque in nature. He nailed a Game 7 game-winner that made a whole arena hold its collective breath before sending his team to the Eastern Conference Finals and consequently winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy with a 4-2 series win over the Golden State Warriors.

The Klaw’s averages of 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 steals in his lone season speak for themselves — above and beyond what any other Raptors player has done at the small forward position.

If that wasn’t enough, his 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.7 steals per game speak of just how dominant he was throughout the 24 playoff games that made the Raptors hold their first trophy in franchise history.