I thought I’d poll the RR crew on who they think the Raptors should select with the fifth pick. Before we get to that though, the big news story was Andrea Bargnani saying that he’s like to play in a warmer climate if he’s not to remain in Toronto. Here’s the full quote:

“I want to stay in Toronto, at least this is the politically correct answer,” Bargnani told Sky Sports in Italian. “If [I am] to go somewhere else, I’d like a warm climate city and a team where I can actually play my role.”

Let me break this quote down for you:

  1. This is a translated quote from an interview he gave to Italy’s Sky Sports, so there’s something getting lost in translation, namely the “politically correct answer” bit. I don’t think Bargnani’s English is strong enough to use phrases like these, and his answer likely resembled: “I want to stay in Toronto (giggles and says something like, you silly reporter, what else would I say to you, and why are you interrupting my vacation?)”.
  2. “I’d like a warm climate city”. Unless you’re a penguin or a polar bear, given the choice to play in cold or warm climate, you’d always pick the warmer one. The only way you wouldn’t is if it’s something crazy like Dubai or somewhere in Kuwait, where the sun’s concern isn’t to provide sustenance for life but to kill it as fast and efficiently as possible. Having said that, it’s a really needless quote from Bargnani because he has to know how fickle he sounds. Or maybe he’s conveying a humble request to Bryan Colangelo about not wanting to be traded to Minnesota for Ricky Rubio.
  3. “Where I can actually play my role”. STFU already man. The Raptors have done everything but lick your feet (maybe even that) and have pampered you in every conceivable way including defending your weaknesses, promoting you in the media, getting you to skip tough games, guaranteeing you playing time even when it’s not deserved. So what if you don’t officially play the power forward, it’s not like your numbers when you do play the position are that great.

On to the RR crew giving their take:

Blake Murphy: It may sound ethnocentric, but I’m really not feeling either of the big European prospects at #5 (although Kanter, who will be gone, sure sounds like a good bet to contribute). With a 2-year extension, Colangelo can afford to gamble, but it must pay off in the near term. I think Derrick Williams is the best fit but won’t be available (without a trade), so I’d rather hope Knight or Walker can work around their weaknesses and become great NBA guards instead of hoping one of the Euro-Bigs is an instant-Asik. Even with Calderon and Bayless on the roster, the franchise needs to identify a guard to build with DeRozan/Davis/et al, and I have them ranked Irving/Knight/Walker.

phdsteve: If the Raptors actually keep the pick (I think there is a strong chance of them moving up to as high as Minnesota at #2 or down to Washington at #6) then I think the Raptors at this point take the best player on the board at #5. If by some chance Kanter is there, then he’s the guy. If Kanter is gone, then I think they take Knight. But there are still some rumblings that Knight may go at either at #3 or #4, in which case, I think its Vesely since he is the next best talent in this draft.

Tom Liston: It comes with the same caveat from Tim Chisholm’s comments in phdsteve’s podcast, but my early pick is Kawhi Leonard (6’7″, SF, San Diego). He’s lacking a 3-point shot (only 29.1% from college 3), but from all accounts he has a strong work ethic and he’s developing that shot (see: “Leonard’s shooting mechanics look significantly more consistent than they did during his days at San Diego State”). Safer route if you can move Bayless or Calderon for reasonable value? Take Kemba Walker and I’d highly recommend buying a late 1st rounder (or early second) to pick up Justin Harper (6’9″, SF/PF, Richmond), who’s currently pegged at 38th on DraftExpress’ board. He’s just behind Irving and Williams in points per play (good shooter and 6’11.75″ wingspan).

Sam Holako: While I would draft Kemba at #5 if he’s available, no question, I’m a little torn between him and Kawhi Leonard. Right or wrong, Leonard reminds me of Joakim Noah and Luc Mbah a Moute in respect to their work ethic on the defensive end. The jumper can be developed, but there are far too few guys on this team who leave it all out on the floor every game. I recognize the need at three requires a player with a better all-around game, but I irrationally trust that Leonard could grow into that type of player for us.

A-Dub: Bismack Biyombo. Let’s admit that it’s a weak draft, and even guys like Brandon Knight (overall skill) and Kemba Walker (size) have question marks. Biyombo has freakish measurements and athleticism that project him as a center. And he does actually look more like an 18 year old then a 25 year old as some are suggesting.

Matt52 (forums): With a talent level that is underwhelming beyond shooting guard and small forward, the Raptors cannot afford to be picky in their selection. The bottom line is the best player available needs to be selected – which is an old and tired cliche, yet very true. Ideally the Raptors manage to find a way to get Kanter either through him falling or by trading up. I am a fan of Kanter because he has legit size and solid fundamentals while playing the hardest position to fill in the NBA right now – C.

Me: There’s no secret that I’m willing to take a chance on Kemba Walker, this does mean that I’m picking against the generally adhered to principle that you have to draft the best player available. I don’t believe for a minute that Jerryd Bayless is the answer at point guard, and the position needs to be addressed permanently. Brandon Knight’s raw game, if developed, could project him to be a better NBA player, but given the skill-set of DeRozan (poor shot-creator who needs some pressure to be lifted off of him) and the intangible weaknesses of the Raptors (lack of leadership, communication on the floor), Walker is a great fit. A defensive center is the other major need, which I feel is more easily acquired via trade, free-agency, or a later pick, than a starting point guard. Walker’s defensive frailties have been overblown because of his incorrectly rumoured height, now that he’s measuring 6’1″ in shoes, it puts him in the same category as Rajon Rondo.

Hump. Day.