The landscape of the 2012 NBA draft changed quite a bit last night, or not at all, depending on how much you value Jared Sullinger. A player that many (myself included) had going before the Raptors pick at 8, Sullinger has apparently been red-flagged by multiple NBA medical staff’s, and could now potentially fall outside the first round. While that news is unfortunate for this year’s version of DeJuan Blair, it could also devastate the Raptors draft plans. Just as I was beginning to stomach the idea of Jeremy Lamb in a Raptors uniform, it appears he may be off the board before the Raptors make their selection.
This leaves Toronto in the unenviable position of having to make the 8th pick in a draft where there is a noticeable dip in talent after the 6th, with one of the more attractive options in the 7-10 range apparently gone because of a bad back. The optimist in me wants to believe that a player in the top 6 falls to the Raptors, but the realist in me knows that Toronto will be choosing a less talented prospect who doesn’t fit in the Raptors rebuild plans. If your most likely option is a shooting guard with effort issues (hey, don’t we already have one of those?), and your worst case scenario is picking either a shoot first point guard (Damian Lillard), Ed Davis clone (John Henson) or a project big man (Meyers Lenoard), it might be time to reassess this pick. I’m all for drafting the best player available, but with Sullinger out of the picture, it has become painfully evident that there isn’t a prospect that makes sense at 8 for the Raptors.
The best option left is to move the pick; either throw together a package of picks and players to trade up for a better talent, trade down into the teens for a better team-player fit while acquiring future assets, or move out of the first round entirely for a veteran at a position of need. Unless Toronto comes to its senses and decides to shop the pick along with the much maligned and beloved Andrea Bargnani to a team in need of a potential star at PF (Charlotte, Washington and Sacramento make sense at 2, 3 and 5, respectively), the most likely trade option is to swap the pick for a veteran. Let’s just hope that such a trade would work out better than the 2008 Roy Hibbert for Jermaine O’Neil debacle that set the organization back a couple years.