That’s not to suggest there’s a gem to be found at No. 9 this year. According to a variety of experts and NBA talent evaluators, the draft is thin on all-stars but deep on parity, making it more troublesome for general managers with picks outside the top two or three.
No one knows – even moreso this year than in others – whether a guy slated to go fourth will be better than someone the so-called "experts" think is worthy of the 12th or even 16th selection.
And it’s not just in Toronto.
“It’s definitely not clear water, let’s just say that,” Jim Kelly, the Raptors’ senior director of player personnel, said in a phone interview Monday.
Making matters more muddled, the Raptors have several key free agents that may or may not be back next season, and so the makeup of the team remains somewhat in limbo.
“You try to project where they fit on our team and we happen to have a number of free agents, and we’re not really sure if we’re going to be able to re-sign those people,” Kelly said.
“You’ve got to sort of project that we think we have a good chance with him, maybe not so much with him and if they don’t come back, we can use him in a certain role. It’s a little bit of a guessing game there.”
9 – Toronto Raptors – Gerald Henderson
Tommy’s been on the Henderson bandwagon for a minute now, and I’m going to hop on now. He can defend and has an awesome midrange game. He’s ready for the NBA right now. Charlotte would love for Henderson to drop to them, but I think he’s moved ahead of Demar Derozan in Raptor land.
9. Toronto Raptors – Jordan Hill, PF (Arizona)
The Raptors can’t believe Hill is still on the board. The third-best big man in the draft, Hill is the much needed insurance policy for when Chris Bosh bolts Canada after this season.
Some teams conduct their own background checks, some use agencies while others use private detectives or someone with a law enforcement or security background. Colangelo declined to say which method he utilizes.
“I don’t want [the players] to know what I’m asking,” he said. “Every team does it a little bit different.”
One-on-one interviews can say a lot about a player. One scout, who requested anonymity, said he usually follows a question like, “What’s your girlfriend’s name,” with “When was the last time you smoked marijuana” to try and throw the player off. Flynn has been very impressive during the interview process, which included a meeting with Colangelo during last month’s NBA Combine.
“It was a great chance for us to speak with him directly and get a good read on him and who he is as a person,” Colangelo said. “You start to formulate an opinion of who he is outside of the basketball realm and that’s all part of it.”
9. Toronto Raptors - DeMar DeRozan, G/F USC
DeRozan has been impressive during workouts and has as much potential as any other player in the draft field.
Grade: A+ This pick fills a need and gives the Raptors the best player available – the perfect combination for draft success.
The Raptors draft needs greatly depends on what Bryan Colangelo does in the next few days leading up to the draft. Colangelo could attempt to trade Chris Bosh or sign on of the 2009 free agents but until that happens I will discuss the Raptors draft needs as if the roster will be the same as it is now.