1995-96: Raptors Boast Top Rookie In Debut Season

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1995-96: Raptors Boast Top Rookie In Debut Season

As was expected, the Toronto Raptors took their share of lumps during the 1995-96 season, posting a 21-61 record in their first season. But the Raptors also offered huge doses of the unexpected, including wins over the teams with the three best records in the NBA (Chicago, Seattle and Orlando).

The Raptors also unleashed a 5-10 rookie dynamo by the name of Damon Stoudamire, who led the team in scoring (19.0 ppg) and assists (9.3 apg, fifth in the NBA). Stoudamire did it all; he was the MVP of the Rookie Game at All-Star Weekend, recorded his first triple-double (20 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in the win over Seattle), played more than 40 minutes per game, was a two-time Rookie of the Month, and capped his first NBA campaign with the ultimate honor, the Rookie of the Year Award.

Stoudamire and the Raptors recorded their first win at the expense of the New Jersey Nets, a 94-79 decision at the SkyDome. In December, they defeated the Vancouver Grizzlies in the first regular-season matchup between the NBA's two newest teams. But the most shocking and satisfying victory had to have been the 109-108 upset over the history-making Chicago Bulls on March 24.

Isiah Thomas, the team's general manager, was constantly mindful of trying to build a winner for Toronto. He shuffled the deck just before the trading deadline to give the Raptors more youthful talent in Doug Christie and Sharone Wright. At the end of the season, he made another big move, replacing Head Coach Brendan Malone after one season and replacing him with Darrell Walker.

The first star for the franchise was Damon Stoudamire who earned Rookie of the Year honours in Toronto's inaugural season.

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