I’ll be honest, until real recently, I just haven’t given the due credit deserved to both Andrea Bargnani and the Toronto Raptors for picking him up in 2006. After watching his 22 and eight performance last night in the Raptors’ 106-105 win against the Lakers, I guess I’ve just kind of held a blind eye to the 7-foot Italian. With both Bargnani and rook DeMar DeRozan playing well this season – and yes, I know Bargnani was putting up over fifteen a game last season – it got me thinking about just how far T-Dot has come since drafting its worst player in franchise history: Rafael Araujo.The 6-11 Brazilian out of São Paulo was Toronto’s eighth overall selection in 2004 from Brigham Young University. Let that sink in for a second: the eighth overall selection and he was a senior. That at the least – minus Sean May – should all but guarantee a solid role player in the rotation, right? Sadly for Araujo, he never really made it into any NBA rotation for much more than 12 minutes a game during his three seasons in the League.So why did Toronto draft Araujo? Well, for starters, Bryan Colangelo wasn’t affiliated with the organization yet and…well that’s all I got.
Let’s look at why Araujo might have been coveted. Araujo spent two years at junior college in Arizona before heading north to play for BYU in Provo, Utah. He did play well in a mid-major conference and was awarded Co-Player of the Year in the Mountain West as a senior in 2004. From Toronto’s POV, Hoffa had a good mid range jumper, a big body and, although he was a better fit for the international style of play, he still had the potential to improve. They wanted a complimenting big man banger to fill in the frontcourt alongside their second-year star in Bosh, and Jefferson (coming out of high school) probably seemed like too much of a reach at the number eight spot.Looking back on it six years later, it’s easy to jump on Toronto’s terrible move now, but honestly, even in 2004 it was hard to find reasons to agree with the decision.DimeMag.comWhat is Araujo up to these days? After setting course for Russia upon being waived by the NBA in 2007, he was actually invited to the Minnesota Timberwolves training camp in the fall of 2008. After being waived in October of that same year before making the final squad, Hoffa has found basketball salvation in his native Brazil. After bouncing around the countryside – and probably gearing up for Los Olympicos in 2016 – he has landed with club Paulistano in the Brazilian premier league. A much thinner, and still much-tatted, Araujo has been playing pretty well – and in front of much more Hoffa-friendly crowds – as you can tell in the YouTube clip below.
Araujo may not have turned out like Toronto expected he would, but at least Bosh and Bargnani will have a pad to crash at in 2016. You got to take your positives where you can, right?