The Ultimate Raptors Rankings are the RaptorBlog editors’ attempt to rank the top 30 Toronto Raptors of all time. These rankings are obviously somewhat arbitrary and endlessly debatable, but they’re based on each player’s contribution, performance and longevity as a Raptor, and on how beloved they are by Raptors fans. We’ll count down a new Raptor every Wednesday on this blog.
Matt Bonner’s Raptors résumé:
- Fourth in franchise history with .421 three-point percentage
- Second in franchise history with .589 true shooting percentage
- First in franchise history for lowest turnover percentage
- Ninth in franchise history in win-shares per 48 minutes (ahead of Tracy McGrady)
Here’s something you probably forgot about Matt Bonner: he only played 160 games over two seasons with the Raptors. Am I the only one who totally forgot this as the years passed by and thought Bonner was a Purple Dino for longer? I guess that’s just a testament to the, um, “impact” he had on the franchise.
Bonner was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft before being traded to the Raptors. From there, Bonner went on to play in Sicily for a year before officially joining the Raptors in time for the 2004-2005 season.
In his first NBA season, the 6-foot-10 big man put up respectable averages of over seven points and more than three rebounds per game in about 19 minutes of action. His marksman-like shooting, ginger-red hair and him being spotted riding the TTC to work earned him the nickname “Red Rocket.” A Toronto legend was born.
But behind the boyish face and charming smile was also a feisty side, as NBA bully Kevin Garnett can attest to.
Bonner followed up his pleasantly surprising rookie season with a decent performance in his sophomore campaign, but his numbers remained consistent despite extra playing time and the first six starts of his career. His shooting percentages tapered off slightly, and Raptors fans realized what they were going to get with Matt Bonner.
Yet that didn’t stop the Red Rocket from forever etching his name in Raptors lore.
Matt was a ‘core’ piece of a laughable team that won 60 games combined over two seasons, but a team that was also somewhat respected among the city and country’s true basketball fans. These teams bridged the gap between the Vince Carter era and the full bloom of the Chris Bosh era. They were embarrassingly low on talent, but usually brought a top-notch effort and fight that was well received by the Toronto faithful. It is for this reason that I have always dubbed this period of Raptors basketball as the “Lovable Losers,” era, and there is no player that defined the Lovable Losers like Matt Bonner.
If you go back and look at the rosters for those squads, Bonner was the only one who would go on to play a significant role on a championship team (06-07 Spurs). And though the statement is often misused, with Matt, you can really say that “it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.”
Bonner now spends his time still playing for the Spurs, making great sandwiches and trying to become a Canadian citizen so he can represent Canada in international basketball competitions. As if he hadn’t already captured Canadians’ hearts.
No one will ever confuse Bonner with one of the top 30 most talented players in Raptors history, but his incredible likability and his near mythical stature among Raptors fans earns him a spot in RaptorBlog’s Ultimate Raptors Rankings.