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.
Antonio Davis’ Raptors résumé:
- One of only three Raptors players ever selected to an NBA All Star game (2001)
- Eighth in games played (310) and minutes played (10,808)
- Second in total rebounds (2839) and rebounds per game (9.2)
- Third in total blocks (405)
- Seventh in total points (3994)
After finishing the lockout-shortened 1999 season with a surprising 23-27 record (led by an upstart rookie named Vince Carter) and sniffing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors knew they had to add to their roster in the off-season to go from a young team merely sniffing the post-season to a team actually playing in it.
Enter big man Antonio Davis, who was brought to Toronto in a trade that saw draft pick Jonathan Bender head to Indiana. The move would prove beneficial for the team and a turning point in Davis’ career.
The 31-year-old Davis filled the important role of veteran mentor for a team stocked with youngsters like Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Morris Peterson and Alvin Williams. The Raptors went on to a 45-win season and the first playoff berth in franchise history, while Antonio put up career numbers of 11.5 points and 8.8 rebounds. Toronto may have been swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the older, wiser Knicks, but they had put the NBA on notice. They were a team on the rise, and Antonio Davis was going to have a hand in that ascension.
The Raps followed up with a franchise-best 47 wins in 2000-2001 before a thrilling playoff series victory in a rematch with the Knicks. They ultimately came within one shot of the Eastern Conference final. As for Davis, he elevated his game from impactful mentor to NBA All Star, putting up 13.7 points, over 10 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game.
Antonio had already endeared himself to Canadian sports fans with a hard-nosed style and all out hustle over his first two seasons in Toronto, but it was his inspiring and admirable performance to close out the 2001-2002 season that will forever go down as his most memorable run as a Raptor. With Vince Carter out for the season and the Raptors reeling (17 losses in 18 games to fall out of a playoff spot), Davis put the team and Canadian basketball fans on his shoulders, and wow, did we ever enjoy the ride?
Davis averaged over 18 points, eight rebounds and a block per game while fully embracing the leadership role over the last 14 games of the season, helping the Raptors go 12-2 over that span (including a nine-game winning straight) and rallying them into the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed and subsequently, a playoff spot.
While Davis enjoyed another good statistical season in 2002-2003 (13.9 points, 8.2 rebounds), the Raptors came crashing back to earth with a 24-58 record. Toronto drafted Chris Bosh that summer and Antonio was shipped to Chicago with Jerome Williams and Chris Jeffries in the middle of the 2003-2004 season in the trade that brought Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall (and Lonny Baxter) north of the border.
Davis was never much of a factor in the NBA after that deal, and by the time he came back to the Raptors for eight games of the 2005-2006 season, his value was limited to simply being an expiring contract.
While some Raptors fans will always reference his disdain for the metric system when reminiscing about Antonio Davis, I, along with countless others, will always remember the immeasurable heart, hustle and leadership he brought to the table during the most successful era in franchise history.
Like it or not, Antonio Davis is deserving of the fourth spot in RaptorBlog’s Ultimate Raptors Rankings.