Everybody who has access to a keyboard and an internet connection seems to be giving their take on what the Raptors should do with that oh so coveted 13th pick. Should we pick a big man, go with a guard, get a replacement for Hedo, trade up, trade down, or just sell the pick so we can cover some of Andrea Bargnani’s new contract which kicks in next year? Just like everything else, the answer is dependent entirely on how the Chris Bosh situation pans out. He is back from vacation, tweeting at a higher rate than ever, and touting some “big meetings” he’s had. I can only speculate that those meetings were about how to promote his autobiography, Chris Bosh – How I got a max-deal by having less than max talent. I hear it’s a cracker of a book with a surprise ending that rivals Sidney Sheldon’s finest. On a side note, if you manage to find Chris Bosh and smash his Blackberry like in 1:17 of this, there’s a hat in it for you.
I don’t know who the Raptors should draft, but I do know the two things the Raptors need to address via the draft:
Replacement for Hedo Turkoglu: There’s been no public denial of his comments on Good Morning Turkey so it’s safe to assume he wants out. Promoting a replacement from within the organization doesn’t seem possible as DeRozan and Weems are more oriented to play at shooting guard. Theoretically, you could pull one of them to small forward and have tremendous athleticism on the floor. Even if we do that, it still leaves the question of depth to be dealt with. Drafting Gordon Hayward at #13 or someone like James Anderson later down the road, are options, but in both cases you have to go in knowing that first year impact for a wing who doesn’t have the ball in his hands is rarely significant. Selecting a wing would definitely fall into the “project” category, but if the franchise is willing to enter an honest rebuild stage, so be it. If not, we could just get one via the MLE.
Interior defense: Improving help and interior defense should be a matter of priority for the worst defensive team in the league, and that is the chief reason why selecting a ready-to-contribute big man makes so much sense (ahem, Ekpe Udoh). For our “young guns” to do their thing on the break we need to create turnovers and get defensive stops, after all it’s hard to run fastbreaks when you’re inbounding the ball every time, much easier when a big fella rejects it and kicks the break. Maybe I’m overvaluing the impact of a rookie, but after suffering through our sieve-like defense last year, defense is like water in the desert. I run for it even though it could be a mirage. Still, if Amir Johnson can find it in himself to play with the same level of aggressiveness he did last year without picking up cheap fouls which limit his playing time, Udoh and Johnson could form a formidable defensive frontline. Not quite sure what Bargnani will bring next year, but throwing him in there at the SF from time to time means the Raptors will have a size advantage that could be exploited. Without falling into the trap of thinking that OKC’s success was as simple as combining young, athletic wings with hard-nosed defenders, I say we follow the OKC model. I like it.
The Avery Bradley and Eric Bledsoe’s of the world are nice-to-haves, but with Jarrett Jack under contract, it shouldn’t be a priority. There’s some talk of Jack following Bosh out of town but I’d hang on to him until he demands a trade or stops playing hard, neither of which you’d peg him for. If it does come to that, drafting and playing a tweener big minutes could be an option, but now we’re talking about losing 55 games as we’ll have first or second year players left and right. Even that doesn’t bother me as long its going in a direction. Drafting a tweener seems to be a good proposition of late, they seem to have less trouble adjusting to the NBA game and Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, and Russell Westbrook, are a few examples of quick transition to the pros.
So there’s my draft article for Raptors Republic – short and sweet. It’s partly because every draft prediction I’ve ever made has been wrong so I like to stay out of things and let Steve do his thing. He’s got a solid interview lined up for this week so stay tuned for that, especially if you’re a draft guy/girl.
A quick look at the last 10 players drafted at #13 says Richard Jefferson was the best amongst them, unless you’re a fan of Marcus Banks.
2009 – Tyler Hansbrough – Indiana
2008 – Brandon Rush – Indiana
2007 – Julian Wright – New Orleans
2006 – Thabo Sefolosha – Philadelphia
2005 – Sean May -Charlotte
2004 – Sebastian Telfair – Portland
2003 – Marcus Banks – Memphis
2002 – Marcus Haislip – Milwaukee
2001 – Richard Jefferson – Houston
2000 – Courtney Alexander – Orlando
While we’re at it, here’s Bryan Colangelo’s draft history:
2009 – DeMar DeRozan – 9th
2008 – Roy Hibbert – 17th (traded to Indiana)
2006 – Andrea Bargnani – 1st
2005 – Nate Robinson – 21st (traded to New York for Kurt Thomas and Dijon Thompson)
2005 – Marcin Gortat – 57th (traded to Orlando for cash considerations)
2004 – Loul Deng – 7th (traded to Chicago for Jackson Vroman, future first round pick and cash considerations)
2003 – Zarko Cabarkapa – 17th
2002 – Amare Stoudemire – 9th
2002 – Casey Jacobsen – 22nd
2001 – Alton Ford – 51st
2000 – Iakovos Tsakalidis – 25th
1999 – Shawn Marion – 9th
1997 – Stephen Jackson – 43rd (waived)
1996 – Steve Nash – 15th
1996 – Russ Millard – 39th
1995 – Michael Finley – 21st
1995 – Mario Bennett – 27th
1995 – Chris Carr – 56th
The best ones have to be Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Steve Nash and Michael Finley, all were good finds with picks that don’t necessarily get you a solid NBA player back. You could add Robinson, Gortat, Deng, and Jackson to that list had he not traded or waived them soon after. Colangelo has drafted multiple players four times in his career, could this year be the fifth? Also of note is taking Zarko Cabarkapa with the 17th pick, I’d rank this as an equal-sized disaster as Grunwald taking Michael Bradley with the 17th pick of the 2001 draft.
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