The best-case scneario at #8?

So the Raptors are stuck with the #8 pick after all. So much for my hypothetical analysis from the other day. Not that I’m surprised, of course; 3.5% were small odds. So we settle in with the #8 pick and can now spend the next month looking at mock drafts to see who might slide to us at #8, examining the trade value of the 8th overall selection, or coming up with ridiculous scenarios where we trade half the roster and end up with an All-Star team (or maybe that’s just for RealGM boards?).

Anyway, I got to thinking about how the talk all year has been that this is a very deep draft – while not top-heavy and superstar-laden, it promises to run deep with instant contributors and long-time role players. In essence, it’s a great draft to have the #1 pick or be a team that’s on the cusp, allowing playoff teams to add quality players late in the draft without surrendering assets. For a team late in the lottery like the Raptors, these type of drafts don’t create all that optimistic of a picture; while a good player can definitely be acquired with the #8 selection, there’s no guarantee he’ll be better than the #15 pick. What I mean is, while it’s an asset, it’s also an asset that at this time has minimal net value in terms of improving the team relative to the competition. That is, while it could be a good player, a team we’re hypothetically chasing like the 76ers could get an equal player, meaning we’re not closing the gap with this pick. On the bright side, though, a deep draft could also mean the value of the pick on the market remains high, and thus has opens some trade scenarios.

With the theoretical value of the pick aside, I was curious as to how the #8 pick has worked out for teams in the recent past. I pulled draft results going back to 2005 and listed picks #7 through #12 below. I chose this range as this seems like the theoretical range of selections at the #8 pick, with #12 being a random end point (basically, if you were to select a player more than 5 spots beyond his actual draft slot, you probably should have traded down anyway). This isn’t meant to be a commentary on the players from these previous drafts (obviously, Kawhi Leonard looks like a better pick than Jimmer Fredette, for example), but rather a look at the type of players that have gone in this range recently.

Year #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12
2011 Bismack Biyombo Brandon Knight Kemba Walker Jimmer Fredette Klay Thompson Alec Burks
2010 Greg Monroe Al-Farouq Aminu Gordon Hayward Paul George Cole Aldrich Xavier Henry
2009 Stephen Curry Jordan Hill DeMar DeRozan Brandon Jennings Terrence Williams Gerald Henderson
2008 Eric Gordon Joe Alexander DJ Augustin Brook Lopez Jerryd Bayless Jason Thompson
2007 Corey Brewer Brandan Wright Joakim Noah Spencer Hawes Acie Law Thaddeus Young
2006 Randy Foye Rudy Gay Patrick O’Bryant Mouhamed Sene JJ Reddick Hilton Armstrong
2005 Charlie Villaneuva Channing Frye Ike Diogu Andrew Bynum Fran Vazquez Yaroslav Korolev

It’s an alright looking list with some legitimate NBA players and a couple of fringe stars in the mix. While outside of Rudy Gay the #8 selection itself hasn’t done well, #9-#12 have also held some good value. We’ll have to trust in Colangelo et al to make the right selection here, but you could argue a team picking #8 for the last few years would have a pretty formidable team – Kemba, George, Jennings, Lopez, Noah, Gay, and Bynum all could have been grabbed with that pick in the past few years.

If we look at the current mock drafts from ESPN (Chad Ford 5.0) and Draft Express, we see the following players in our hypothetical range of #7-#12.

Pick ESPN (Ford 5.0) DraftExpress
7 Jared Sullinger Harrison Barnes
8 Dion Waiters Jeremy Lamb
9 John Henson John Henson
10 Damian Lillard Damian Lillard
11 Jeremy Lamb Kendall Marshall
12 Perry Jones III Perry Jones III

It’s not a bad list of players, though I’d have better luck beating any of them 1-on-1 than getting our readers and commenters to agree on a player, or even a position, that fills a need for us. Personally I’m high on Lillard if we go guard, and I still think PJ3 could be a difference maker with the right coashing and surroundings at the three. My opinion is no better than anyone else’s though, and as much as I become a reading machine at this time of year (as a fan of exclusively awful sports teams, I’ve been conditioned to salivate for anything draft-related), there’s only so much that reading combine reports and reports from individual and team workouts can do for you. Really, we don’t get to see what goes on between the lines frist-hand, but I’ll continue to try and update with my opinion on the pick every once in a while, if for nothing more than to foster the discussion.

So, thoughts on the #8 pick? Is there a Gay or Bynum available this time around? Is PJ3 Paul George waiting to happen? What is the market value of the #8 pick in a draft like this?