“Let’s say this was the one to fall back a couple of spots.”
- Bryan Colangelo on the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery
As Scott Carefoot wrote last night, the Raptors fell to the fifth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery. With a weaker draft class that appears to have two clear front runners (Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams), falling to fifth feels like a loss. Bryan Colangelo held his post-lottery conference call last night and he, of course, focused on the other side of falling down to fifth. In short: If you’re going to fall, this is the year to do it. Translation: This draft class isn’t currently looking so hot.
Here’s some more of what Colangelo had to say when discussing where his team stands in the upcoming draft:
- Colangelo opened the call with a long statement about the drop to fifth, while also identifying players the team has shown interest in. The good is that he rattled off a list of seven names, of which multiple players will be available when the team is on the clock to make their pick on June 23rd. For a draft junkie like me, the fall to the fifth pick means that the team will have a lot more predraft workouts and bring in more players, perhaps multiple times as they make the decision about who their preferred guy will be. For the team, at least they know they’ll get a player they like.
“It’s interesting. We obviously knew that there was a chance that we would move from three back to six. When you looked at the draft and talked about the top two being fairly definitive, number three, number four, number five, I’m not sure there’s a lot of difference there. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder in this situation. I do know that after those top two picks, there’s another handful of players that we really like which means we’re going to get one of the players that we really like and all of them address different needs. There’s a couple of point guards to possibly choose from. Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker. There’s a couple of bigs to choose from in Kanter, Valanciunas, Biyombo. Then you look at some of the other players, there’s an interesting small forward in Kawhi Leonard. There’s a scoring wing who is capable of handling the ball a little bit in in Jan Vesley. There’s all kinds of different players that we can choose from. The biggest weakness that we have might be at that five position. I’m not sure we’re going to get any kind of quick fix there with respect to that position and particularly the need that we have at defending the rim, rebounding the ball and having the kind player coming in to having an immediate impact. I’m not sure it’s there in this draft.”
- I liked the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” line. This is true of any draft, but especially with a class like this one. There might not be a lot of future star power on the board, but there will be players who end up surpassing their supposed ceilings and who surprise people.
- Also interesting to hear some of the names mentioned by Colangelo. Clearly, the point guard position is one that the Raptors need to address. Unfortunately, Kyrie Irving will not be in a Raptors uniform despite spending some time chatting with Colangelo at the lottery last night. Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker are both interesting players, Draft Express currently has the Raptors taking Knight, but of course, things will change as workouts happen and guys excel or falter with front office eyes on them.
Here’s another Colangelo quote on a positive that dropping down in the draft brings:
“I will say to you that at the end of the day we’ve moved back a couple of spots, the one notable change is that there will be a less of a cap charge for the fifth spot than the third spot which means we’ll have a little more flexibility to persue free agency and some of the other things that we’re talking about.”
- So, there’s that. With so many needs that have to be addressed, Colangelo will have to get lucky in the draft and creative with respect to finding players through free agency. While it does sound like a spin job, if we’re being honest, outside of the top two picks, I’m with Colangelo: There’s not a huge difference between the third and fifth slot. After missing out on Irving and Williams, there isn’t really a player that fits the “sure thing” title, so it’s about getting who you feel is the best available talent when you are on the clock.
- Another Colangelo quote that I found interesting:
“I’ll be honest with you, I was a little bit confused what to do at number three if we could not move up to one or two. I think that moving back to five doesn’t change the picture much at all other than there are a few teams ahead of us making selections that will change the availability of certain players. If I were telling you today that I knew who I was taking at three had we stayed where we were, I’d be lying because there is that much uncertainty and murkiness about this draft. I could make the argument for a certain player at three and every time we would talk about that situation I’d hear someone say, “that’s too high to take him at three.”
- I think this pretty much says it all. There are going to be lots of disagreements about who is or isn’t good enough to take with that third pick. Which player is the best talent outside of Williams and Irving, who is worthy of that pick, who has the least bust-potential. Saying there’s that much “uncertainty and murkiness” is about as negative as you can get when talking about a draft where you’ve got a top five pick. Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes and I liked Colangelo admitting he didn’t know what he was going to do had the team remained with the third pick.
- While Colangelo said the team would be heading to a predraft session in Chicago today, he acknowledged wanting to get the team’s coaching situation sorted sooner rather than later. Having been kept in limbo by the organization until yesterday afternoon himself, it only makes sense that he wants to sort out the coaching situation for the team and for Jay Triano himself. While he didn’t give a timeline of when he’d like to arrive at a decision he did say that, “it’s best if you move forward and are decisive in these situations.” That comment made me think it’s likely what Colangelo would have liked to say to those who kept him waiting.
- At this point, I’d assume that Triano will be back, but Colangelo didn’t give any real indication of which way he was leaning with respect to the coaching position.
- Overall, there’s not a ton of info to be taken from the lottery, but these were the quotes that stood out to me. Opinions will be formed, changed and rearranged in the next month leading up to the draft, but that’s part of the fun. The Raptors definitely have their work cut out for them and there’s going to be a lot of research to do and workouts to see. As excited as I am for the draft and for a new, young talent to be on the roster, I’m just as curious to see what happens with free agency.