Ninth ain’t bad, almost good

The draft lottery only f****d one team and we weren’t it, that’s good enough reason to feel content this morning. Watching the lottery last night I can’t imagine why NBA GMs and coaches actually make the trek over the swamplands to attend this morbid event. I mean, Colangelo, Saunders, Bird, Gentry, what are those guys doing there looking like idiots waiting for their name to be called? Can’t they just send a hack player or a video-room guy to attend these things? I figured they’d try to play down the fact that the team they run is one of the worst in the league but instead they seem to be itching to get some face-time. Especially the Clippers dude, he seemed so happy to be there even before he won the top pick. Any who, after all the build-up the Raptors stayed where they are and are now in a position where they’ll be looking at a player that’s probably too high for the 9th pick but still one of the best available. Kinda like ’06.

It’s going to come down to the age-old decision. Do we draft the best guy available or do we draft by position? Sensibilities (and Jack Armstrong) say that you always draft the best talent available and convert him into something you want if position is a problem. Well, if you go by that, then drafting someone like Gerald Henderson, Jeff Teague and Terrence Williams is a little out of the question since insiders (of the ESPN kind) are rating them 17th, 18th and 19th. It’s the classic “Do we take a guy we know is going to be available later now OR do we draft a guy we don’t need but is skilled”. It’s a good thing the Raptors have enough holes not to be worried about questions like these, we want a guy we can groom into a starting SG and there’s all the reason to believe that if DeMar DeRozan is already taken, we can still convert the 9th pick into someone like Tyreke Evans or Earl Clark via trade or just plain drafting.

Colangelo this morning is saying that it’s tough to draft by position and that he’s confident he’s going to find somebody he likes at #9:

“It’s pretty tough to draft solely by position. We are looking for the best talent that we can find. At nine based on the draft projections and intelligence we have, it appears that there are going to be some players that we like. We’re looking for the best talent we can find.”

To me that quote says that he’s targeting someone he knows will be there at #9 or is just going to take the best guy there and deal with him. With 8 of the top 20 prospects being PGs (Ricky Rubio, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Jennings, Stephen Curry, Eric Maynor, Jonny Flynn, Jeff Teague), it’s not out of the question that we select one of these guys and make a play to a team like the Lakers who are looking to improve at that position, and in the process get a couple player with one pick. Obviously, it’s a little early to be speculating like this so we’ll wait until the draft workouts start in earnest and see who rises and who falls. I don’t think even Colangelo knows who he wants at this point and that’s what the next month is all about.

Here’s the complete conference call where he’s saying that six of the top seven picks go to the West and how that’s a good thing. As for trading up, he’s saying its basically out of the question unless the Clippers are planning on trading the #1 pick. He seems to think it’s a one player draft with the talent thinning down as soon as the second pick. Despite the statement slighting the drafting he’s saying that the Raptors are still scouting hard, there’s a couple group workouts scheduled, one in San Francisco on June 1st and 2nd where teams like GSW and Phoenix will be looking at players along with the Raptors. Another one in Minnesota between June 1-4. Colangelo also said that he recently visited Florida to check out some players.

Jonathan Givony has the Raptors considering DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, DeJuan Blair and James Johnson in that order. He’s citing our need to get tougher and more athletic on the wing but saying DeRozan’s got some convincing to do before the Raptors seriously take a look at him.

I think it’s very possible that if you want Sacramento’s pick its there to be had. Whether a team will actually make a play for it depends on someone impressing to such a degree in the pre-draft workouts that a team is compelled to take a shot at him. Sacramento’s asking price as of today can’t be that high because its common knowledge that the talent thins down considerably after the top three. A GM could come out looking like a genius if they acquired the fourth pick today for cheap and then converted into a steal. Or they could come out looking like idiots. I think Colangelo’s a bit risk averse to make those moves.

Now, there’s a crazy thought in Clipperland that they actually prefer Ricky Rubio to Blake Griffin. As John Barry on ESPN said, “How will the Clippers screw this one up?” Anybody catch the look on Chris Webber’s face when he got the fourth pick? Better question, what the hell was Webber doing there?

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