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Posted on June 28, 2012 | 6 Comments
With the NBA Draft tonight, I wanted to talk about some of the prospects from a Raptor perspective. I’ve separated my list into three. The first is if the Raptors are actually able to move up into the top 5. The second is if they stay at 8, and the third is guys who they might want to pick up a second first rounder for. Plus, I’ll talk about the guys who are being mentioned at the 8th spot who don’t make my list.
Keep in mind, that I’m not saying these are the best players, nor who I think will be the most successful. The fact is, I think the Raptors need to hit a home run in this draft to escape perpetual mediocrity, so I’m far more inclined to roll the dice on someone I would normally steer clear of, and stay away from a safer player who doesn’t have much of an upside.
Now, I’ve already stated a couple of times that I think the Raptors should do everything in their power to try and trade up, including offering up anyone player on the current Raptors roster. So first up are the five players I would take if the Raptors could trade up.
1. ANTHONY DAVIS
Damn, how I wanted the Raptors to end up with the #1 pick. If he remains healthy, I see Davis as a franchise altering player who will one day end up being one of the top five players in the league. I think he’s got the potential to eventually average 20+ppg, 14 rpg, 4 bpg and 5 apg.
The fact is, however, that if the Raptors are able to trade up, they aren’t going to be able to get the top pick, so this is pretty much moot.
He’s a game changer on defense right now. I haven’t seen a shot blocker like that in college in a long, long time. And he is a vacuum when it comes to rebounds. He also sees the floor far better than most big men and his offensive game grew by leaps and bounds in just one season.
He’s going to get killed in the post until he gets stronger. He makes Chris Bosh look like an adonis. And while his offensive game has improved, he’s still not the type of guy that you can throw the ball into to get a score.
2. MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST
If he could shoot, he would be a franchise player, but even without a shot, he’s got the potential to be a very good player and possibly even an elite one. He’s a maniacally hard worker which should allow him to improve his shot. Will never be a top five scorer, but won’t need to be.
While he’s not the outside shooter and scorer the Raptors need, he provides everything else they so desperately need. He’d be the perfect Dwane Casey player and starting out the season with Kidd-Gilchrist and Jonas Valanciunas would go a long way to turning this franchise around and pointing it in the right direction.
The best defense wing player in the draft, and second only, overall, to Davis. He will immediately make an impact defensively and should become an All Defensive team mainstay. No one, and I mean no one, matches his desire hustle, in the draft. Cares only about winning. He’s also the youngest player in the draft, at just 18, yet also one of the most mature and best leaders.
Has a LONG way to go with his shot. Whoever drafts him will have to hire a shooting coach full time, for him, and completely retool his shot. Think James Johnson.
3. BRADLEY BEAL
A scorer and shooter who had a bit of trouble doing it in his freshman season at Florida. Rumour has it that both the Thunder and Spurs are trying to move up to draft him, so that tells you something right there.
He is exactly the type of scorer the Raptors need, and would allow them to either move DeRozan to the 3 or trade him altogether.
His shot has been compared to Ray Allen‘s, but he’s also a very strong and tough player. Plus he rebounds like a forward and defends. He’s not exceptionally tall, but he doesn’t really have a big weakness.
If he’s such a good shooter and scorer, why didn’t he show it much at Florida?
4. ANDRE DRUMMOND
Now, normally, I’d stay clear of this guy because of the red flags (questions about motor, lack of success at Connecticut), but the fact is that he’s got the tools to be one of the top two players in the draft and, at this point, the Raptors need to swing for the fences.
A front line of Valanciunas and Drummond COULD be devastating. Drummond has the strength that Valanciunas doesn’t, and both players are excellent rebounders and defenders. And if Drummond becomes even close to the player that he has the potential to become, then he could help make the Raptors into possible contenders.
I also think Drummond’s motor issue is more to due with offensive confidence than lack of desire. In high school he was able to dominate on his physical tools alone, but in college he ran into more resistance defensively than he was expecting and he lost confidence.
At the very least, Drummond will be a good defender and rebounder. For all his struggles at UCon, he was a very good post and team defender. And, physically, he’s already going to be one of the bigger, stronger and more athletic big men in the league.
Even if Drummond’s motor issue is overblown, he’s still incredibly raw on offense and his free throw shooting is historically bad. If you shot 29% from the free throw line, you’d be not very inclined to receive the ball on offense, either.
The other major problem with Drummond is that he’s not really a good defensive rebounder. His major problem is that he doesn’t box out, something Raptor fans are very familiar with, unfortunately.
5. THOMAS ROBINSON
If there a player in the top five people are talking about least it’s this guy. He’s the Mitt Romney of the NBA draft in that he’s not exciting or inspiring, but you’ve got to take him if he’s available.
While he’s not a great post threat, nor a good jump shooter, he would be a good pick for the Raptors because he would be a good pairing with Valanciunas and would allow the Raptors to clear their logjam at PF. He would immediately become the best player at that position, for the Raptors.
He’s a great athlete, a tenacious rebounder and a good defender. He doesn’t have any major weaknesses.
While he doesn’t have any major weaknesses, he also doesn’t have anything in his repertoire that really sticks out, other than rebounding. He’s a good, but not great scorer and he’s a good, but not great defender. He also plays possibly the least important position in the NBA.
If the Raptors aren’t able to move up, and are stuck with the 8th pick, I’m not exactly thrilled with the players likely to be available, but here are my top five who might be available, at this point.
1. ANDRE DRUMMOND
Yes, I know. I had him in the top five, but several mock drafts have him falling as low as 9, so there’s a chance he could drop. If he does, the Raptors should pounce.
2. PERRY JONES
Yes, this is how desperate I am for the Raptors to hit a home run. I’m willing to take a guy who I wouldn’t normally touch even ten places back in any other draft.
The fact is that Jones has the tools to be an elite player. He’s 6’11, has the athleticism of a SF, can shoot, handle the ball, pass and rebound. I think that Jones would play better at the SF position in the NBA, and there’s an interesting perspective on why Jones struggled at Baylor.
If he plays close to potential, he’d be a phenomenal player at the Raptors weakest position. There aren’t many SFs (if any) that can look down at Kevin Durant.
There really isn’t anything Jones can’t do and he has the potential to be an elite player.
So why was he only a mediocre college player who disappeared so often?
3. JEREMY LAMB
At one point he was being looked at as a top five pick, and he’s definitely got the talent to be. He had a disappointing year at Connecticut, like Drummond, but he’s got the tools to be an All Star.
Can shoot, is a good ball handler, and could be a very good defender.
Appeared passive too many times, and many question his toughness after showing an unwillingness to drive inside and stake contact.
4. DAMIAN LILLARD
Here is why I want them to trade up. I’m not a big fan of Lillard and he’s fourth here. He’s moved up the draft after the college season ended, which is always a bit of a red flag, for me. It tells me that scouts are basing too much on workouts and not enough on actual college play.
He can shoot, score and with efficiency, has good size for the PG position and is one of the quicker players in the draft.
The fact that none of his positives have to do with passing, making teammates better or anything else that a PG is supposed to do is why I’m not a big fan of him.
5. NO ONE
No one else I think has enough upside to warrant the Raptors picking at 8.
If the Raptors are able to get hold of a second first round pick, they can afford to play it a bit safer this one and go after a role player. These are the guys I would draft.
1. KENDALL MARSHALL
Has been called the best passer to come out of college since Jason Kidd. He’s a dying breed and exactly the guy the Raptors need to eventually replace Calderon.
He’s actually a PG who makes his teammates better, a rare quality today. He’s also a leader and a better shooter than many give him credit for.
While his shooting is decent, it’s not great, but his biggest issue is whether he can defend the PG position adequately, since he’s not the most athletic guy out there.
2. TERRENCE ROSS
It always amazes me that guys like this always end up falling where they do, while far less skilled guys get drafted above them. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see this guy end up starting for some team, or at the very least, be on the All-Rookie first or second team.
Ross and shoot and score, as well as defend. He doesn’t do any of it at an incredibly high level, but he’d be an excellent role player at the 2 spot.
While he’ll end up being a very good role player, he doesn’t have a whole lot of upside, and he doesn’t handle the ball all that well.
3. TERRENCE JONES
He probably has mixed feelings about not coming out last year. He got himself a Championship, but probably cost himself millions of dollars because he’s gone from a top 10 pick to someone who isn’t even considered a lottery pick, anymore.
While a lot of scouts were disappointed in his lack of development, the fact that he played a major role on the best team in the country has to be a plus. He’s still got the potential to be an All Star, and he’s worth taking a risk lower down int he draft.
He’s a big, strong guy who can shoot, rebound and defend.
He doesn’t do anything exceptional and he’s kind of stuck between positions. Personally, I think he’d do better as a three.
4. ROYCE WHITE
One of the most intriguing and unique players in the draft. He can pretty much do it all on the court, including pass and handle the ball. If it weren’t for his anxiety disorder, I’m sure he’d go higher.
White can score in the post, is a very good rebounder, passes like a guard and is the type of player you can run the offense through.
Other than the anxiety disorder, which it seems he is able to overcome, White is undersized for the PF position and isn’t the greatest athlete to begin with.
5. QUINCY MILLER
Was talked about as a possible top five pick, but an ACL injury slowed him down. The thing is, he probably still hasn’t fully recovered from the injury, so there’s a chance his somewhat disappointing season at Baylor was due to that.
Has the length and skills to potentially be an All Star. If he can regain his athleticism, then he’d be a great gamble.
It’s a big if he can regain his athleticism. And while he’s got a lot of potential, he still needs a lot of work.
There are a few guys who are being talked about for the 8th spot that I haven’t mentioned, yet. The reason I haven’t mentioned them is because I wouldn’t draft them. Here they are:
For a guy who is being compared to Dwyane Wade, why is it that he could only manage to score 12 ppg? And he’s also not a very good defender or rebounder. Plus, he’s a bit undersized for the SG position
He’s an undersized, ball dominant SG who doesn’t shoot very well, doesn’t like to pass and doesn’t play defense. No thanks.
Henson is a safe pick. A good defensive big man who works hard and rebounds. My problem with him is he’s basically everything Ed Davis is and at best, is a role player, which is the last thing the Raptors need from the 8th pick.
It should be an exciting day, and let’s cross out fingers that Colangelo can work some magic and end up with a future star.
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