The "face" of some lucky franchise.

My original plan for today’s article was to examine a handful of different draft scenarios for the Raptors. After some careful though, I realized the following three things:

#1 – I’m still having trouble finding the midway point between cautious optimism and rabid homerism when it comes to evaluating Jonas Valanciunas. While this isn’t a huge issue in and of itself, it makes it difficult to intelligently anticipate certain draft scenarios that would involve a big who isn’t Anthony Davis. This issue won’t resolve itself by June, but the other two will.

#2 – We have no idea where we’ll pick in the draft. As I write this on Saturday March 31, the Raptors are in 4th last in the NBA. The chart below shows each team’s chances at winning the lottery based on their final seed (1=30th, 2=29th, etc), as well as their “expected draft slot” (weighted average of all odds), and their chances of falling outside of the top-5 altogether. While it’s fun to consider hypotheticals at each draft slot, right now only 1.5 games separate the Raptors from being 4th last or 8th last. This makes their draft range from 1-11, and I feel like the analysis is better served, if I’m going to get in depth, when we have a more clear idea of their draft range.

The Raptors are currently "4th."

#3 – We haven’t seen all we’ll see of the top prospects. This is the most important point, and leads us into the primary focus of this article – tonight’s Final Four semi-finals and Monday’s NCAA Championship game. While names like Beal, Drummond, Zeller, and all of the UNC players are eliminated from the tournament, several of the top prospects for this year’s draft will be in action in front of millions. Tonight and Monday should allow us for one or two more “last looks” at these potential Raptors draft targets.

Anthony Davis
Have you heard of him? Any team that wins the draft lottery is expected to select Davis, an instant all-world defender, shot-blocker, and franchise difference maker. Scouts will be far more interested in seeing how others play AGAINST him, which should tell you just how universal a selection he’s considered at #1. Watch for entertainment, but rest assured the Raptors would take him if fate decides it should be so.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
MKG is currently my #2B on my list of prospects I’d like the Raptors to select, trailing only Davis and Thomas Robinson. The knock on MKG is his ability to create offense for himself at the next level, but every other tangible skill and intangible trait is considered a home run. He has the chance to solidify himself as a #2 pick with a strong scoring performance, and I’ll specifically be looking to see if he shows the tenacity to attack one of the country’s best defenses in Louisville, or if he remains passive and defers to teammates to create.

Marquis Teague
It seems unlikely he’ll enter the draft after a lackluster freshman campaign, but if he does he’ll be worth watching in a match-up with Louisville, who boast one of the best guard rotations in the country. Teague doesn’t seem a likely 1st round pick, so he could be a target with the Raptors’ early 2nd rounder if he declares, based on his upside alone.

Terrence Jones is a model of inconsistency, and could have been a top-3 pick with a better year. ESPN has him going later in the lottery, so it’d be considered a disappointment if he ended up in the Raps’ draft plans. Doron Lamb is a great shooter who would fit well as a backup 2-guard; he’s projected to go early in the 2nd round, where the Raptors have another pick. Darius Miller is a senior without much of a ceiling, but most sites have him “draftable” as a late-draft bench player, and the Raptors acquired what will amount to be a late 2nd from the Pacers for Barbosa.

It seems unlikely that any Cardinals will end up in Raptors’ uniforms next year. Despite having a great season and boasting several top-notch defenders, they don’t have any projected draft picks according to several sites. Instead, they’ll act as fodder for evaluating the Wildcat scorers. That said, a lot of their top players could return, and names like Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan are worth a watch for future years.

Thomas Robinson
As I mentioned, he’d be my #2A selection for the Raptors if given the choice. While the Raptors are obviously deep at Power Forward, the team is still in the phase of “talent acquisition” and can’t really afford to draft for need as early in the draft as Robinson would come. Several sights have him at #4, but it’d be a coin-flip for me between he and MKG, and I’d certainly prefer him to Drummond. He’ll face a massive test tonight in the crafty Jared Sullinger, and everyone with an eye on the draft should be hoping they match up against each other rather than cross-matching with the other bigs.

Tyshawn Taylor
Finally, a point guard! Yes, we need one, but unless we’re going to acquire another 1st round pick or roll the dice in the 2nd round, it doesn’t seem like this is the year. I’d put Taylor behind names like Marshall, Lillard, and Wroten both because of his inexperience and inconsistency. That said, there’s no better stage to show that your consistently maddening play can be harnessed for peak performance when it matters most. Some like Taylor as a late-first, but I’d stay away since he still hasn’t figured out the mental side of the game after four years at Kansas.

Elijah Johnson is big for a point guard and very athletic, but he’s been hidden partially by the presence of Taylor these past few years. He’s not much of a shooter and will probably stay for another season, unless the dearth of guards convinces him he’ll get drafted. I’ll pass on Jeff Withey, too.

Ohio State
Jared Sullinger
He doesn’t really fit a need for the Raptors as a slightly undersized and probably under-athletic power forward, so he probably won’t end up here unless both he and the Raptors fall on draft day. He’s still a very interesting watch (especially in person) as his IQ and fundamentals can be appreciated with more focus. Positionally and instinct-wise, there’s nobody better, but scouts are down because he doesn’t have the typical look. I think the Kevin Love counter-arguments are a bit much, but I do think he’ll be a quality NBA player…just not for the Raptors.

Deshaun Thomas
We’ve had enough scorers who play no defense in our time, and while he truly can light it up, he’ll probably return to school and try to improve his game and reputation. He’ll be more interesting in a KU/OSU final, as we’d see if his defense can improve when it truly matters, while also seeing how MKG handles guarding such a prolific scorer.

Aaron Craft
He probably won’t be anything more than a backup in the NBA, but I love his intelligence and defense. He’s a pretty obvious leader on the floor, and while his shooting and athleticism aren’t at NBA levels, in limited minutes heart, IQ, and defense can be enough. I’d take a shot on him with that late 2nd if he’s still sticking around, as I feel like he could really control a second unit, especially if paired with a high-scoring guard opposite him.

William Buford is by all accounts a great guy, and when I saw him on opening weekend in Pittsburgh he certainly had a feel for “momentum” plays. That said, he’s been the same player for four years now and probably isn’t much more than an offensive role player in the NBA. There’s a place for that, of course, but the Raptors have more pressing needs.

So there are some players to keep an especially close eye on tonight and Monday. It’s a long list, but it should be – this should be the Raptors’ last time selecting high for a few years (hopefully), and the first time in a while they’ve had multiple picks at their disposal. Every player matters.

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  • mobchester

    Harrison Barnes is all i want ,potentially he is better than anyone on this list

    • Bill

      Harrison Barnes is who I do not want.  He’s too focused on branding himself before having accomplished anything…

    • pran

      Harrison barnes can’t even create his own shot, we’re looking at drafting a slightly better luol deng here……and that is NOT going to be the best talent available in my opinion. It’s either davis or beal for me…..

    • mountio

      Barnes played himself down about 5 slots or more in the tourney. My guess is he goes in the 10 range now. If we are picking then, Id love to get him .. but I sure as hell hope we are picking a lot higher than that – and I wouldnt take Barnes in the top five.

  • RapthoseLeafs

    I think Aaron Craft will be the sleeper in this draft. He may not show it in his first year, but given time to develop, I can see potential as a Starter. There’s just something about him, that intrigues me.

    • RapthoseLeafs

      To add to that:

      Without Craft, I believe Ohio doesn’t get beyond Sweet 16.

      • mountio

        Agree with that .. however not sure he has an NBA future. Would I maybe take a flyer with a late 2nd rounder? Maybe. But no more than that ..

    • Destro

      Umm I believe Craft can play and will probably be a late 1st rounder to 2nd rounder but he’s NOT going to start EVER in the NBA…

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    Peyton Siva (Louisville)- act like you know…..

    • A Guy

      He is a junior with terrible stats who has about a 0% chance of even declaring for the draft this year- learn his game before you say his name…….

      • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

        He led his team to the Final Four with those terrible stats as you say.lmfao at u

        • Ray

          What about your boy Tony Wroten Jr.? Where did he lead his team?

          • Destro

            So Wroten isnt a mid 1st rounder who can play in the NBA ?

            • Ray

              Shut up. 

              • Destro

                zactly bruh you dont know shit,go read a few draft blogs before hitting SEND…

          • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

            See you on NBA Draft nite 2012…….lol

            UW won the Pac12 regular season title.

      • Cred

        Gots2Go likes to conjure up as many of the less-popular names he can think of, and when 1 (out of the hundreds) of them turn out to be a pretty good or decent pro, he’ll laud himself for having an “eye for talent”, and say I told you so for the rest of the season while bashing Raptors management for not drafting that specific player. It’s the Gots2Go way of doing things.

  • Leftovercrack

    I don’t see any euros or international players at the top of the draft this year. The reactionary fan base can breath easy and not fear a Colangelo draft day suprise!

    • Destro

      Theres always a fear with BC you’ll hear,with the 5th pick the Raptors select….Donavadeo Nistillivanovic

  • mountio

    Sullinger sucks. If anyone is watching this game and watching him get blocked by the Kansas guy who just stands straight up and doesnt even elevate, and still thinks the Raps should even consider taking him is flat out crazy.

    • Destro

      Been saying from beg of season…he struggles with NBA sized guys under the basket,he has no lift at all….

      Withey is the type of guy he’ll face every night as a pro….BUST !

  • yedig

    nobody think bradley beal could be top 5?  either of those guys i’d be content

    • AB7.38pt.on.CB4

      Beal is best option for Casey if 1st pick goes elsewhere. Complete package there.

    • Destro

      Beal aint going top 5….

      • Nilanka15

        DraftExpress has Beal in the 5th slot right now…

        • Destro

          Would i pick him over Barnes,Drummond YEP
          DO i think he’ll get picked over them ? NOPE

          • Destro

            They also have a bunch of guys too high (Zeller,Henson,Drummond) Ultimately tough to say now since we dont know the draft order….I would say right now if the Raps were picking 5th good chance he might go 5th given that alot of guys are sliding right now and some guys arent committed IN yet…

  • RaptorReuben

    Davis, Gilchrist, Robinson, Beal, Barnes. 

  • Brian B

    Davis is unlikely to be a franchise changing player. It is much more plausible that he will end up being the next Marcus Camby or Tyson Chandler than another KG or Dwight Howard- a solid player to borderline star, but not a superstar . There are not enough minutes for both he & JV to develop. On a team that needs help everywhere, I remain convinced that loading up on raw bigs is foolhardy, though it would be BC’s style.

    Playoffs in 2016?

    • mountio

      Davis is a stud. Did you see the array of skills yesterday? Jump hook, using both hands, alley oops, jump shot, you name it. Not to mention what he brings defensively .. which is his best asset.
      Will he be DH or KG for sure? Who knows .. thats a damn high bar .. but he will be a very very good NBA player …

    • Trrruth

      People who aren’t open to trading bargnani, seem to be very misinformed. Davis has a post game, he can knock down the jumper, he is a very good passer and his defense can single handedly win games, AND he keeps improving…. I think you’re basing your comparisons on his appearance rather than his actual game, can you actually watch davis play before you talk…..

      • Brian B

         I have watched many of his games. Sure he outclasses most college opponents, but his offensive game is unformed, though it has improved, but it still mainly is within five feet of the basket. He does not have post moves, and the jumper is shaky. he is not strong, and the advantage he has being long and athletic may not help him as much in the NBA, which is a man’s league.
        I’m not saying he isn’t good, just that he hasn’t proven he is the “franchise player” everybody seems anxious to anoint.Not every draft has one. 
        I could care less whether they trade Bargnani, I just doubt that they will, and would not want it done as a fire sale. Having two young unformed projects up front would delay the team becoming credible for several years.

        • mountio

          I thought the same watching him at the start of the year (even though I still thought he was a stud that you had to take #1 based on defense alone).
          But, his confidence and poise in the Louisville game was very impressive. He has a very solid 15 foot jumper (light years ahead of Ed and Amir, for example). He showed a jump hook on the right block with the right hand, a jump hook on the left block with the left hand. Both very smooth and natural. He also finished a few lobs (some of which werent great passes). All of this from a guy who has had one year in college, gets 4-5 blocks a game (and was a guard up until something like 3 years ago when he grew another 6-8 inches .. so has decent handles for a big man).
          You are right .. nothing is a sure thing .. but Ill be happy to put my money on this kid being a hell of an NBA player ..

        • pran

          are we suddenly going to compete for the nba championship next year? The guy has the most potential so I think we should take him if we can, BC drafts on potential…….

        • Destro

          His offensive game is still raw but has showed improvement this year (mid range J and post foot work)
          BUT even if its average his entire career,he can still dominate games on the defensive end which is the great thing about him…
          He will rebound and block a ton of shots and he will intimdate guys from going to the basket…similar to how D12 does….

    • Nilanka15

      Even if we agree that there aren’t enough minutes for both Davis and Jonas next year, drafting Davis doesn’t necessarily mean we need to keep him. 

      Having Davis, Jonas, Bargnani, Amir and Ed on the roster opens up a lot of trade possibilities to improve other areas of need.

  • James.M

    Why not a guy like Kendall Marshall. He’s the best passer in college basketball, and should be up for consideration. The guy has insane court vision, and that’s something you can’t teach. I think you take him with anything later than the 6th pick. Not an elite scorer, but he can make a team, and players around him better.

  • This is all I picture in my mind

    PF: Anthony Davis/Ed Davis
    C: Jonas Valanciunas/Amir Johnson

    That is a frontcourt you can go to war with every game. Our paint would be secure for the next decade. We’d have the best shot blocking frontcourt in the league, efficient scoring in the paint, rebounding, and the defense they would provide. Orgasmic!!!

    • mountio

      Agreed. If we could somehow get AD – anything and everything is on the table. Trade AB, JV, Ed or Amir (whatever guy or combo of guys gets you the best guards in return) and this team is all of a sudden in very good shape going forward …

      • Destro

        IF somehow were able to come up on AD that surely has to be the end of Bargs here… for other parts and au revoire…That would give us the front court we always needed and really puts us way ahead of schedule to get back to the playoffs… 

    • Brian B

       Maybe in three years, if they all mature to the best possible outcomes and what about the guard/wing needs?

    • pran

      I could daydream about that shit all day….

    • NyAlesund

      Ok, but there is a big problem: who scores? Anthony Davis is De Andre Jordan 2.0.

      • Nilanka15

        That’s quite the exaggeration…

        • mountio

          Its not an exaggreation ..its flat out wrong. They arent comparable in any way shape or form (other than position)

      • Destro

        You couldnt possibly know any less about basketball…

  • Esq

    Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Beal, Barnes, Robinson, Drummond. 

    • Destro

      Robinson is going 3rd esp if he has a good game tonight…

  • voy

    yeah, that 1.5 games separating us from 8th is scaring the crap outta me.  We need to sign back Rasual Butler, get him on the floor and say “you are gonna get 48 minutes, play like you think you’re michael”.


  • ckh26

    If by chance .. the raps win the lottery…. and have the overall #1 pick…Would you trade the #1 overall pick for Portlands 2 first rounders if both those choices were say slotted at 4 and 11…  So potentialy giving up the the rights to A.Davis for a much needed SF Kidd-Ghilchrist and the PG of the future Kendal Marshall ?

    • mountio

      A good question. In that scenario .. its right on the margin. If I knew I could get MKG (probably would need 3 or better) .. Id have to think about it if the other pick was in the 10 range as you suggest. At the same time, I think Portland would do it in a second .. as they are more about filling out slots (already have a couple very good players .. arent nearly as far away as the Raps). Would be a very interesting decision if it was on offer.

      On the other hand .. AD is such a stud .. Id really have to think long and hard about it ..

  • CDashQ

    Damian Lillard – PG of the future.