Michael Bradley, Villanova (2001, #17)
Younger Raptors fans might be familiar with the Joey Graham/Danny Granger “debate” of 2004, where the Raptors passed up on the Pacer twice. Three years before that in the 2001 draft, the debate was between Zach Randolph and Michael Bradley, with Randolph’s attitude problems being the main negative against him. Marty Burns from SI called it:
Seeking insurance in case Antonio Davis leaves or Charles Oakley gets traded, the Raptors went for size and took Michael Bradley, a 6-foot-11 forward from Villanova, with the No. 17 overall pick. Someday, however, they might regret passing on Randolph.
Bradley ended up being a below average garbage-man. Like a poor man’s Kris Humphries.
Joey Graham, Oklahoma State (2005, #16)
Built like a bull, but with a hand-eye coordination of panda and the vision of a bat. Yes, the Granger story has been told a thousand times and rightfully so. Some draft experts still maintain that it was a close call between Graham and Granger, here’s how Draft Express described one of his college games:
There was no doubt from the very start that Graham wasn’t going to settle for single digit scoring, as he came out looking to take his team on his back, taking a lot of shots early but only starting the game 1-6 from the field. The first half wasn’t really one to remember in terms of showing off his wing skills. Most of his points came from posting up his man in the paint, scoring off offensive rebounds and getting to the line.
Graham took the ball the ball strong on the perimeter against the flat footed Radenovic, palmed the ball and skied through the air and then finished beautifully off the glass on his way down using his strength. Graham refused to be denied at the end of the game as well, and scored what could have been the game winning basket with a borderline offensive foul bullying his way to the hoop.
His NBA career was basically his college career, except that when the competition got better, Graham didn’t.
Rafael Araujo, BYU (2004, #8)
Too depressing to talk about. You know the story, Iguodala was right there and Babcock instead selected a fat roll of toilet paper. And not the good smooth kind either, but the one made out of rotten shredded wheat. Funny part about this pick is that EVERYONE in the world except Rob Babcock knew that Araujo was going to be a dud. Here’s the highlight of his short, fat career.
He also shattered a backboard later in Brazil, but that’s the backboard saying it would rather die than get scored on by Araujo.
Chris Jefferies, Fresno St. (2002, #20/trade)
Raptors selected Rush at #20 to trade him to the Lakers for Chris Jefferies. Moaning about the 20th pick seems peevish, but the 2002 draft was full of serviceable players in the late first and second rounds, check out some of the names selected after Rush: Tayshaun Prince, John Salmons, Carlos Boozer, Matt Barnes, Luis Scola and Ronald Murray. Jefferies’ is best remembered for always looking like he had just smoked a honey blunt. I’ll leave it to ESPN to report Jefferies’ skill:
One GM compared Jefferies to a young Scottie Pippen because of his ball-handling skills for a small forward.
That comparison would have been totally valid if Scottie Pippen was a lazy bastard who, instead of having a passion for defense, had one for reaching Level 8 in Super Mario.
Charlie Villanueva, UConn (2005, #7)
This is actually a good WTF, and perhaps Babcock’s best move. I remember Raptors fans yelling at Rob Babcock at Bluejays games to pick the four-fingered Gerald Green, but Babcock stuck to his guns and selected Villanueva with the 7th pick. Let’s track Villanueva’s impact on Raptors personnel:
Villanueva for TJ Ford
TJ Ford for Jermaine O’Neal
Jermaine O’Neal for Shawn Marion
Shawn Marion for Hedo Turkoglu
Hedo Turkoglu for Leandro Barbosa
Leandro Barbosa for …..the saga continues.