|#1||Ekpe Udoh||PF||6-10, 240lbs, Age: 22||Baylor (Junior)|
Udoh really is the best player available, the best fit for the Raps without Bosh, and the most ready of the potential picks to come in and play/help/start now. If available at #13, easily the best choice. He could crack the rotation right away, might not have the greatest upside but has what the Raptors need right now – ability to crash the boards and play defence. A safe pick.
|#2||Avery Bradley||SG||6-3, 180lbs, Age: 19||Texas (Freshman)|
We know the Raps sent a scout last month to Vegas to watch him work out. We also know that following that meeting, not only the Raptors, but several teams (including Indiana who needs a pg) moved Bradley up in their rankings from the mid 20s to the mid-lottery. Not sure, like Udoh if he drops to 13, especially with teams like Detroit, Indy, and Memphis all drafting 5 up from the raps and all of whom would benefit immediately from adding a guard like Bradley. And just in case you needed a reminder:
He was the best perimeter defender in the NCAA last year. He was rated higher than John Wall coming out of high school, and he was the top rated player in the country before going to Texas. He has a 6’7? wingspan, and he is an excellent scorer and a good mid-range shooter.
|#3||Gordon Hayward||SF||6-8, 200lbs, Age: 20||Butler (Sophomore)|
If the Turkoglu rumours are true, and the Raps cannot address the SF position from either of the upcoming trades (ie/ Bosh, Turk, or Calderon) then look for the raps to aggressively pursue a guy like Hayward. Again, much like Udoh and Bradley, Hayward has been linked to several teams ranging from top 10 to mid 20s- but in the #13 range, he is the best available at his position. And don’t let his image fool you. He can score, defend, and is an excellent rebounder for his position. Hayward is the mini-Turk. He could be the guy that we hoped Turkoglu would be when we signed him. A crafty offensive player with improving vision.
|#4||Patrick Patterson||PF||6-8, 223lbs, Age: 21||Kentucky (Junior)|
If Udoh, Bradley, and Hayward are all off the board look for the raps to draft a guy like Patterson, who, Chris Denker called, the best fit for this team almost a month ago. A strong defensive game and an inch or two are what’s keeping Patterson from shooting up the charts. The hard work and grit he’s shown scouts has gone some ways in repairing his reputation as a mediocre defender. He’s shown a real ability to knock down the mid-range jumper which will complement his back-to-the-basket game very well. The only real issue is where you play him? At 6’8? he is probably too small to play the 4, but too slow to play the 3. However, knowing Patterson’s personality, he won’t be afraid to work hard to find an answer to this dilemma.
|#5||Paul George||SF||6-9, 214lbs, Age: 20||Fresno St. (Sophomore)|
George is the latest addition of players to the big board that address the Raptors lack of toughness and athleticism on the defensive end (especially at the wing positions). The knock on George is that he played at a small school and therefore didn’t put up his numbers against top notch competition. However, here is what we know for certain. He is long, athletic, can rebound, attack the rim, shoot the NBA 3, and defend both the 2 guard and small forward positions. If Turkoglu is on his way out, Hayward is already gone, and the Raps don’t have confidence in Patterson’s ability to play the 3, George is the next best SF available in the draft.
If by some chance, Colangelo manages to move up into the top 10 of the draft… then watch for the Raptors to aggressively pursue and try to land an impact type of replacement for Bosh. More specifically, their main target/focus should/could be on picks #4 Minnesota, #7 Detroit, or #9 Utah, all of which could be in play.
At #9 the Raptors would be able to draft their player of choice off the big board, and at #7 they might be able to claim one of the 6 best players in the draft (Wall, Turner, Cousins, Favours, Johnson, Monroe) who may slip on draft night (see either Kevin Mchale’s drafting history or the Atlanta Hawks- for examples of why top prospects don’t actually get drafted where they should). But if the Raptors can get as high as #4, then I believe it is a two man race and it depends on who’s position you think is harder to fill/replace: Turk or Bosh:
If you believe that Turkoglu and the small forward position should be the top priority for the Raptors then you will need to get into the top 5 to land Wesley Johnson. But if you are not sold on the Amir Johnson/Andrea Bargnani combo and feel that the PF will be the greatest weakness for this team post Bosh, then look for them to add Greg Monroe who may still be available at 7 and possibly but highly unlikely, as low as 9.
|Wesley Johnson||SF||6-8, 206lbs, Age: 22||Syracuse (Junior)|
What more needs to be said about Johnson than this: In leading Syracuse to a #1 seed in the tourney, Johnson averaged 16.5 PTS, 8.5 REB, and 2.2 AST per game while shooting over 50% from the floor and 40% from the 3. On the defensive end he also was a dominant player averaging both 1.7 STL and 1.8 BLK a night. In short, Johnson has all the physical tools to be an NBA all star: height, length, super hops, can stroke the J, loves to take opposing defenders off the dribble, can score from almost anywhere on the court, in addition to being an excellent defender and an above average rebounder, shot blocker, and steal machine. And while some scouts point to his age as an issue, he’s 22 years old with only 2 years of college ball underneath his belt, after redshirting last year at Syracuse (because he transferred from Iowa St.), I see his “senior”-type age and experience in a major program as assets for a type looking to add an all-star talent in the draft without blowing it up for a rebuild.
I- heart- Johnson and at the 5th overall, he’s a steal.
|Greg Monroe||PF||6-11, 247lbs, Age: 19||Georgetown (Sophomore)|
I disagree with Chad Ford who claims that Monroe is: “not super athletic, but he’s the most skilled big guy in the draft.” First off, Cousins is the most ready big man out there in the draft, already boasting a polished back to the basket game. But Monroe is seriously skilled. He can offer his new team the ability to post up and play a back to the basket game, or he can also step out at hit a 12- 15 foot jumper with consistency. Add to that his extremely high basketball IQ, his ability to pass out of the post (he averaged almost 4 assists a game last season) and that he measured 6-11 with a &-2 wingspan at the combine and you have the making of a legit NBA centre, ready to START next fall in the right system. And while scouts tend to be down on his rebounding and toughness (which should immediately make Raps fans wonder if this is a good idea for Toronto) the fact is that he still appears so skilled in such a tight system (Georgetown prospects almost always look worse in college than at the pros) and he is a very safe pick to be a starting NBA centre for the next decade in Toronto.
If the Raptors do move Turkoglu before or at the draft, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of two things happen:
- They include swapping first round picks as part of the deal. And since most teams to show an interest in Turkoglu will be the types of teams that see themselves as being close to a title and view Turkoglu as that “missing piece”- it also means that potential trading partner will likely draft lower in the 1st round
- After dealing Turkoglu, they then address the wing as their top priority (once again!) and look to the draft to fill that hole. Since at the SF position, after Wesley Johnson (projected top 5), Luke Babbit (projected top 10), and Gordon Hayward (who is already on our board), there is no consensus on the talent of the draft eligible small forwards, most scouts and analysts place the remainder of the SF group in the late first round /bubble category.
So, were the Raptors to move down into the early 20s, look for them to grab anybody off the big board top 5 who may slip the night of the draft, or more specifically, and of these SF players who fit what the Raps need and who can help out right away in a supporting or bench role. Again, it’s apparent that my preference for this team is to whenever possible, draft older players, from larger programs.
|Damion James||SF||6-8, 227lbs, Age: 22||Texas (Senior)|
If the Raptors drafted James, he would within 1 week become the most popular Raptor ever. And here is why, because he is the most intense, all out, in your face (defensively), aggressive, hustling player this city would have ever seen. For James, his stock is up and down with the big knock against him over the last two seasons that he couldn’t play either the 3 or the 4 at the NBA, after playing the PF mostly in college. But James has taken to the challenge after withdrawing from last year’s draft, and despite being part of a Texas team with enormous talent that heavily underachieved, his game has only improved in each of his 4 years at Texas, and his numbers support this. Chad Ford compares him to James Posey, and well, this team could certainly use a James Posey type player.
|Stanley Robinson||SF||6-8, 213lbs, Age: 21||Connecticut (Senior)|
What Damion James brings to the table in terms of hustle and heart, Robinson brings in freakish athleticism and supersonic hops. Seriously, youtube Stanley Robinson + Texas dunk and see for your own self. Robinson if focused can be a lock down defender who is fast, long, athletic, who not only can rebound but is a dangerous shot blocker from the 3 spot. The knock against him has been his focus and consistency, but reports from the combine suggested that he has been a bit mis-read, and like any Jim Calhoun-coached player, he understands the game, the importance of team play, and the importance of effort. Anyone who questions this guy’s heart only needs to take a peek at why he quit basketball last year- and the type of job he took to help support his family.
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Haha, thank goodness you aren’t the GM or else we’d be stuck with Udoh