With the 2022 NBA approaching on June 23rd, we want to take a look back at the Raptors draft history; giving a bit of an accounting of the state of the Raptors, what we thought of the pick in the moment and in retrospect. Each day we will examine the Raptors significant pick(s) and additions in each draft, and frame it in the context of what was going on during that year. You can find all the pieces in this draft history project here.
The State of The Raptors Heading Into The Draft
I’m tired, are you guys tired? The 2009-10 year was as intense as they got. Wholesale changes to the majority team basically was the plan to create something around Bosh good enough to entice him resign at the end of the season when he would become a restricted free agent.
Hedo Türkoğlu was one of the prize offseason free agent targets in the entire league, and Colangelo fell in love with him last year in the playoffs, but there was a snag: he was really deep in negotiations with the Blazers, and had it not been for one of the most incredible roster maneuvers in NBA history (with a ridiculous overpay as the cherry on top) the Raptors would have missed out on the biggest free agent signings, of a player who already wasn’t playing in Toronto, in team history.
While Türkoğlu’s value was at its all-time peak, a lot of us were scratching our heads on how a front court of Bosh, Bargnani, and the big Turk could actually work, especially since Türkoğlu was the type of player who needed the ball (LOL) in his hands; what about Calderón? He’s not really an off-ball kind of player? Open questions, but whatever, bring in talent and let it work itself out.
There was no bigger hail mary thrown than signing Jarret Jack, Bosh’s running mate eight years ago at Georgia Tech; it was a move that reeked of desperation. His boy from college! Why wouldn’t he stay here? Little did we know this was a done deal two years prior during the 2008 Summer Olympics.
The season itself was interesting and eventful. Calderón and Reggie Evans missed a ton of games over the first few months. These injuries did give Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems (both newly acquired) the chance to get some run and show their wares. While they both flexed nicely with some run, Amir really took the opportunity to endear himself to the fans and coaching staff, and he was a darling to the advanced stats community, which was confirmed by what we observed of his play on the court. He’s still a fan favourite.
The question on how Türkoğlu would gel with Bosh and Bargnani was answered pretty quickly: he didn’t. Everything seemed forced, with a lot of “now your turn” happening. His frustration with the lack of system (pushing pace for the sake of pushing pace is not a system, Triano, you fuck) came to a head on January 28th, where the Raptors pulled out a tight, come-from-behind victory against the Knicks on the road. Türkoğlu was dazzling, dropping 26 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals, and he gave us this gem of a post-game interview:
Türkoğlu was supposed to operate from the high post, Bosh in the low, with action running between the two. The problem was that teams were doubling Bosh every time he touched the ball or even thought about it, and Türkoğlu did nothing to take advantage. In fact, no one did. While the Raptors were great at putting points on the board (fifth in offensive efficiency), that offense came from a lot of individualism. It wasn’t great to watch tbh from what I remember.
Then it started going off the rails for the The Turk: in late March he got some sort of stomach virus and missed a week of practice and games, then one night, he’s out and about in Yorkville while a game was going on. I know, I saw him and his goon squad creeping on girls and smashing an intense amount of food and drinks.
With the team hovering around .500 for the season, the playoffs came down to the last game of the year as the Raptors and Bulls were vying for the eighth spot. The Raptors needed to win, and the Bulls needed to lose for the Raptors to make the post-season. Both teams won: the Raptors missed the playoffs and were in the lottery again with the 13th pick.
While the team exceeded expectations, it was really frustrating, disappointing, and frankly hard to watch. We were left with more answers than questions, and had a long summer of “will Bosh stay” ahead of us.
A quick note on Bosh: the man was a picture of professionalism. He endured seven years of roller coasters, team turmoil, a million teammates, three coaches and just showed up to work and put in maximum effort. This season especially was a career year. While it was a contract year, to be able to do what he did this year was incredible; a career year.
From a roster perspective, notable moves included:
July 9, 2009
As part of a four-team trade, the Toronto Raptors traded cash to the Orlando Magic; the Toronto Raptors traded a 2016 second-round draft pick to the Memphis Grizzlies; the Toronto Raptors traded Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai and Shawn Marion to the Dallas Mavericks; the Dallas Mavericks traded Jerry Stackhouse and cash to the Memphis Grizzlies; the Dallas Mavericks traded cash to the Orlando Magic; the Dallas Mavericks traded Devean George and Antoine Wright to the Toronto Raptors; the Memphis Grizzlies traded Greg Buckner to the Dallas Mavericks; and the Orlando Magic traded Hedo Türkoğlu to the Toronto Raptors.
- Parsing this trade gave me a headache. The gist is we traded cash, a 2016 2nd round pick (lol seven years out and another fucking pick), Shawn Marion, and parts for Türkoğlu and parts in a complex sign and trade. Respect to Colangelo for being able to engineer a transaction like this, but I wished that he would put this power to better use for the team
July 20, 2009
Signed Jarrett Jack as a free agent.
- A hail mary that added some depth to the roster and a capable backup (sometimes starter) for Jose.
July 29, 2009
Traded Devean George and cash to the Golden State Warriors for Marco Belinelli.
- Belinelli fit Triano’s offensive at all costs better than George and was European, so Colangelo had to have him.
July 30, 2009
Signed Rasho Nesterović as a free agent.
- Needed a center, meh.
August 18, 2009
Traded Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukić to the Milwaukee Bucks for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems.
- Great trade that improved the team; trading useless players for solid rotation pieces.
A banger of a draft that produced four All-Star’s and a ton of solid rotational pieces. Let’s get a bit of roundtable action on this one:
Adon Moss (AM): What would I have done? Well, what you can deduce from that long line of slow feet is Toronto didn’t have much perimeter play: coming-of-age DeMar, Calderon, Leandro Barbosa, and Jerryd Bayless…and you thought 2022 Toronto lacked guard play…
(Honestly, in retrospect, trading this pick was the move.)
Fair, by the time we got to Ed Davis in the draft, choices were slim. But all I’m doing is thinking how I can build around DeMar. There’s, literally, no one at small forward – no, Sonny Weems doesn’t count as someone – and I’d really like to upgrade the golf caddie, José.
Guards left in the draft that I would’ve loved:
- Eric Bledsoe. He was overshadowed by John Wall at Kentucky and kinda came outta no where in his first two years in the league, so drafting him early didn’t make a ton of sense. We know him now as a total negative +/- guy. But back then he was called mini-LeBron. Perfect beside DeMar.
- Avery Bradley. Defensive minded ball stopper. Perfect.
- I actually had my eye on Quincy Pondexter. Mighta worked. Poor guy never got healthy.
- I LOVED Jordan Crawford. I’m a sucker for hoopers, he flamed out fast.
- I also love love loved De’Sean Butler outta West Virginia. Dude tore his knee in March Madness. Go google Bob Huggins holding him at mid-court. I still get fucking shivers thinking of that moment. I even made it my facebook profile back when that was like a relevant thing to do…
Sam Holako (SH): Look, I was hoping Paul George would fall to 13, but that was a long shot. I didn’t really like anyone in this range, and given the opportunity, would have sadly taken Patrick Patterson with that pick (which would have been the wrong move).
Davis was touted as an athletic big with a long wingspan who had a great attitude without the ego. A strong rebounder who hits the glass and runs the floor. He fell short in the tough-physical aspects of the game where competing with men in the NBA could be a problem considering his smaller frame, but has the ability to overcome that with hard work.
In The Moment
AM: Didn’t get it. At all. We, unfairly, hate on pinner dudes, I know. As a fellow chunky, we can be unrelenting. And, you know what? In 2010, drafting a 6’10, lithe, raw athlete wasn’t the worst idea.
KG, Bosh, Duncan, Dirk, KD and others had shown that having a versatile, floor extending athlete – as opposed to the bruising rebounding brute of the earlier years – as your primary or second big was extremely advantageous.
Except, Ed Davis was none of what I just described. In fact, he was an aforementioned brute in a chopstick body. His draft profile commends his post game, athleticism, and workhorse mentality. He had plenty of potential, but needed to work on it.
Fine. Never happened. Fine. So it goes. Not Ed’s fault. Bryan Colangelo, on the other hand, is ENTIRELY to blame.
WHYYYY are we drafting a 6’10 pole who can’t operate outside of 6 feet from the basket when Toronto already had 85 other centres and forwards on the roster. I exaggerate, but allow me to list who was on the roster that year:
- Alexis Ajinca (7’2″) (acquired after Davis is drafted)
- Solomon Alabi (7’1″)
- David Andersen (7’0)
- Sleepy Bargnani ( 7’0″)
- Old Legs Peja Stojakovic (6’10”)
- Joey “it ain’t 1999″ Dorsey (6’9”)
- Amir Johnson (6’9″)
- Reggie Evans (6’8″)
- Linas “drive” Kleiza (6’8″)
- Julian Wright (6’8″) (acquired after Davis is drafted)
- James Johnson (6’7″) (acquired after Davis is drafted)
Like, I’m being EXTREMELY generous if I’m calling Peja, Linas, or James a small forward. Legitimately, 11 guys, before I even get to Ed Davis, are centres or power forwards on this team. And only Sleepy, Linas, and Peja can shoot. Like, I’m no Freud or anything, but it sure looks like Ed and his PF compatriots was Bryan Colangelo’s subconscious overcompensating for inevitable departure of CB4.
SH: Chris Bosh is leaving, right? Why would we take a guy like Davis if he wasn’t. This pick gave me anxiety not for taking him, but what the thinking was. There was a ton of noise about the Bulls, Rockets, Knicks, and others chasing Bosh, all those teams made sense for Bosh in different ways. This pick was a bit head scratching, but I was looking at Davis like I do yogurt: it’s fine, it’s not something you really think about or crave, but it’s additive and you’re usually glad you got it. We probably should have packaged this pick with some assets to get a young player we could control and who would more importantly fit on the roster beside DeMar, because, it doesn’t look good for Bosh staying.
What It Meant For The Raptors
AM: Ya, know, Ed Davis turned out to be a fine NBA player. He’s beloved amongst teammates. He got paid sitting on benches and dutifully filling in when 3rd string centres were called upon. In Toronto, he did squat. Never averaged over 8 points a game. In fact, his greatest contribution to Toronto was getting traded – that’s a common theme with Raptor picks – for Rudy Gay who then got traded for all those Kings guys…ushering the prosperous DeMar/Kyle era of the 2010s.
SH: I count about seven or eight guys who were drafted after Ed who were in the range of the quality of player that he was/is. The problem with being .500, and not having an upward trajectory, is that you’re picking in the mid-teens in the lottery where there is a lot of variance with respect to how well a player fits your team vs how good you project them to be vs other’s in that range. Takes a real solid scouting department to cut through all that noise and deliver someone who will help in the short and long term.
The trust in Colangelo’s staff to make that happen was lacking, and at the time, Masai’s voice didn’t seem to carry as much weight since we saw what he was able to do in Denver and when he returned to Toronto.
The hope with this pick was that Davis could slot in for Bosh, who was inevitably leaving and probably left a lot of writing on the wall for the front office, but the reality was any tangible team improvement was not going to come from this pick, and for once, we would have been better served using this as a trade chip to improve the team.