My first thought upon hearing that the Raptors would be drafting #9 was happiness. I didn’t want the number one pick this year. Blake Griffin may end up being a stud, but the last thing the Raptors need is another guy who wants to play power forward. I spent a couple of days reflecting on the draft order, reading the rumours, and analyzing Colangelo’s modus operandi and here is what I’ve been able to decipher.
If you look around the mock drafts that are dominating the whatever-sphere, you will find four names most associated with the Raptors:
- Earl Clark
- DeMar DeRozan
- Tyreke Evans
- DuJuan Blair
At the nine spot the Raptors appear ready to select not based on team needs, but instead getting the “best player available.” From the list above I’m already on record as stating that DeRozan is the best fit for this team (I was pegging him as a Rap long before the boys at the Star and Globe starting talking about him). However, since my initial draft articles during March Madness a couple of interesting things have happened, most notably the draft lottery and a HUGE rise in DeRozan’s stock.
Book it: if DeRozan is there at 9, he will be a Raptor. But he won’t be there.
Assuming the Raptors don’t trade up and try to pick the best available athlete with the most upside, then the discussion begins between who would you rather have: Clark or Evans. My vote is for neither.
As I stated before, I’m of the mind that the ninth pick can yield us a potential starter for next season, and if the Raps are serious about not drafting based on need, then once both Harden and DeRozan (the two best wings in the draft) are off the board, they need to stop looking to fill the void at the wings through the draft and instead draft the best player available which will be Jrue Holiday or Brandon Jennings.
Both Holiday and Jennings are legit. Both of whom could give the Raptors an excellent back-up to Calderon and both of whom could also play off of the the PG at the SG, and therefore back-up both Calderon and Delfino next season before becoming a starter in year 2 or 3. Although the rumour is that this draft is fairly weak on superstar talent, both Jennings and Holiday are players with NBA All-Star potential.
DeJuan Blair is a beast and would be an excellent addition to this team, but again, where does he play? If Bosh and Bargnani play 40 minutes a night at the 4 and 5, and Humphries returns next season healthy and is ready to give some energy off the bench, then drafting Blair at 9 appears to be a bit of a waste. Not to mention we have Pops in there and to a much lesser extent, Nathan Jawai.
Also, it’s time to stop the Stephen Curry talk. Dude is JJ Reddick with some pedigree. And even if you don’t think he’s overrated (which I do), he wont slip past the Knicks at #8.
So, if the Raptors want to ensure that they can land Derozan, or if they really want to take a stab at Ricky Rubio, then trading up is always a possibility. In fact, with the Clippers taking Griffin and Memphis landing the second pick, it appears that #2 pick is wide open. Let’s examine the scenario:
There is only a two player discussion for the second pick – either you’re taking Ricky Rubio or you’re taking Hasheem Thabeet. Thabeet is fool’s gold, at best he’s Theo Ratliff, at worst he’s Jelani McCoy. He is a tall, shot blocking 7-footer with little in terms of an offensive game and a questionable motor. I’d pass, especially if I had a beast of a man in the middle like Marc Gasol . Memphis doesn’t need another so-so 7 footer with potential, poor decision making skills and a guaranteed contract, Darko already gives them that and there’s no need to waste another roster spot. Memphis needs a PF. Yup, with Conley, Mayo, and Gay in the 1-2-3 and Gasol in the middle, this team is primed up and ready to compete, all that’s missing is a legit low-post player. This is also why Rubio doesn’t fit here. It seems like a waste to spend this pick on a PF when you could move down 10 spots (at least) and probably still land the guy you want. Nope, the second pick is ripe for the picking.
Chad Ford at ESPN suggests that OKC is hoping to land Ricky Rubio (even though they have Westbrook?) and if they can’t land him at #3, they would be happy to move down or even out of the lottery since they also own the 25th pick.
Who knows what Sacramento is thinking at the fourth spot? The Kings keep dancing the same dance…should we rebuild? Should we compete? They appear to be a team at a crossroads and therefore might really press to move up a couple of spaces to land Rubio, or blow the whole thing up. Stay tuned, this could get interesting.
Washington is in an interesting spot at #5, since they’ve already committed two-thirds of their salary cap to Jamison, Arenas, Blatche and Butler, and have Flip Saunders taking over, it will probably be looking to move up in the draft or cash in its fifth pick for a serious veteran, the same way the Celtics turned their fifth pick (and similar lottery loss) two years ago into Ray Allen.
Minnesota not only owns three first round picks and the honour of having an All-Star front court of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love (neither of whom is over 6’9”), they also have no GM at the moment and a brain trust that includes both Rob Babcock and Kevin McHale…insert punchline here. I can’t even think of a trade rumour ridiculous enough to predict what this team might do.
Golden State at number #7 wants to make a move since Nellie won’t play whomever they draft anyways. They have a new GM looking to prove himself worthy of the title and wants to recreate a 50 win team from two years ago. Delusions of grandeur, never underestimate the impact which recent successes can have on the visions of a GM.
So if the Raptors want to trade up, they will have options.
Trading Down is also a real possibility once DeRozan is off the board since the draft is fairly deep on solid (but not superstar) players – especially at the PG and SG positions. Teams like Chicago might be willing to put a deal together that sends the 16th and 26th pick to Toronto for the 9th. Likewise, Minnesota might be willing to send #18 and #28 for #9. Teams like Detroit picking at #15, NO at #21, LAL at #29 or Cleveland at #30 appear happy to move their pick for cap space, while teams like Memphis at #27 or OKC at #25 might consider selling a pick for cash or trading it for a veteran. At the very least, there are options.
Lastly, the Chris Bosh rumours just wont stop! Golden State, Chicago,Miami, Memphis, Dallas, etc.
Colangelo is not trading Bosh this summer. Period. End of story. Colangelo will re-sign Bosh to an extension in the summertime (although Jack Armstrong believes otherwise in his interview with Arse) and if he is unsuccessful, then he will hold Bosh until the trade deadline or even the summer and try to orchestrate a sign-and-trade. If Bosh leaves Toronto it’ll be for max-money and we’re the only ones who can help get him that. Let it be written: Bosh will be with the Raptors come October. But, if he is going to trade him, please, enough of the Ellis and Biedrins rumours. N-E-V-E-R. Golden State would have to send a lot more than that to get the deal done.
The pre-draft rumour mill is already in high gear and the Raptors, with a superstar close to free agency, cap space, a top ten pick, and an underachieving team appear to be a prime candidate for change. The problem, and what everyone is forgetting, is that Colangelo has already shown his hand. He re-upped the rookie coach, spoke of bringing back Delfino, is planning on holding onto Marion, and then adding at least one first round pick and a little “toughness.” The Raptors may be busy on draft night, but it won’t be in the blockbuster fashion.
As always, standing in the key, I’m the Dr. I’ve got my feet planted and I’m planning on taking a charge!