If you’re looking for another post on Jonas Valanciunas, you’ve come to the wrong place. Scott, Tas and I have all provided our takes on the pick, and I’ve already completed my rant against foolish prejudice fans. The only news to pass your way regarding the Lithuanian big man is that a buyout agreement was reached on Friday, which will see the Raptors’ fifth overall pick spend one more season in Europe.

Now on to the matter at hand, which is this post. In the last week or so, I’ve been looking at the Raptors’ draft history and the subsequent success or failures of those draft picks, and I have come to a conclusion: this could be the first time in franchise history that the Raptors are actually building through the draft…you know, the way it’s supposed to be done. It won’t be the first time the Raptors have tried, but it looks to be the first time they will stick to the plan.

Seriously, look back at the 18 first round picks in Raptors franchise history, and show me one time the team was actually built through a concurrent number of picks. You can’t.

The first three first round picks in Raptors history had the team looking like a model expansion franchise to start out, but things faded quickly. The trio of Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby and Tracy McGrady should have gone on to build a legitimate championship contender in Toronto, as the team would have possessed an elite point guard, a true centre with a defensive/post presence and an explosive perimeter scorer. Unfortunately, Stoudamire lasted less than three seasons in Toronto, Camby made it through two, and T-Mac bolted after his third season in Canada.

After that initial era in Raptors history, Toronto entered in to the dark ages of draft picks. Sure, the draft-day trade that launched Air Canada Carter in 1998 also launched the franchise’s first and only real period of (moderate) success, but what followed was Jonathan Bender (who never played a game for the Raptors and turned into Antonio Davis), Aleksandar Radojević, Morris Peterson, Michael Bradley and another draft day trade that turned Kareem Rush into Chris Jeffries.

I’m not at all knocking the acquisitions of Vince Carter, Antonio Davis or Morris Peterson (I’m not even knocking Radojevic, Bradley or Jeffries, as this post is not about past draft failures), but I am showing you that a plan to build through draft picks never panned out. Vince lasted six-plus seasons as the face of the franchise, but during his time in Toronto, Mo-Pete was the only Raptors draft pick Vince was growing with.

Then comes the Chris Bosh era, where after Bosh in 2003, the Raptors followed with Rafael Araujo in 2004 and Charlie Villanueva and Joey Graham in 2005. Again, Bosh, like Carter lasted for seven seasons as the face of Canada’s lone NBA franchise, but Araujo lasted just two seasons in Toronto while living with the label of “biggest bust ever,” Villanueva had a phenomenal rookie season and turned into T.J. Ford after that debut season, and Joey Graham never played more than 20 minutes per game for the Raptors over four seasons.

The Raptors’ first and only first overall selection, Andrea Bargnani in 2006, was supposed to be the fellow homegrown draft pick to evolve with Bosh, but as we are now painfully aware, that never panned out either. Toronto didn’t have a first round pick in the 2007 NBA draft, and used their 2008 pick (Roy Hibbert) for the Indiana Pacers as part of a deal to acquire Jermaine O’Neal.

That brings us to the current era of Raptors draft picks, where things finally start to get interesting again. DeMar DeRozan, who some suggested had the most upside from the 2009 draft class, landed in Toronto as the ninth pick. Then in 2010, with the very real possibility that the team would lose Chris Bosh, the Raptors were lucky enough to have Ed Davis fall in their lap at number 13.

DeRozan and Davis appear to be getting an opportunity to establish the future core of the Raptors talent-base together, and when you add in Bargnani and Valanciunas (whether you agree with those selections or not), the Raptors now have four players aged 19-to-25 who were all selected in the lottery over the last five years, including three 19-to-22-year-olds who were drafted in the last three lotteries.

Dare I say it, but the Toronto Raptors are building a young core of talent through homegrown draft picks.

All of us have been around basketball, and sports in general, to know that draft picks and youth don’t necessarily mean anything. The scouting department has to do its job and the young talent has to improve and develop.

But after 16 years of commitment issues and mostly quick fixes, Raptors fans should at least be excited about the possibility of this interesting “building through the draft” plan.

Forgive us for the over-excitement – the whole idea is a little foreign to us.

Comments (22)

  1. well of the rapts have Valanciunas , that means bargs slides over to the 4 spot what does that mean for ed davis??? also if the rapts build throught the draft they need to find a pg they cant put too much stock in bayless who looks like hes not a tru point guard

  2. No, it means Bargs slides over to Golden State or any other team in the NBA. Davis is so much better than Bargnani.

    Small quibble with Joseph’s story, but Camby was not a true center at all during his brief tenure with us. He was way too thin (and injury prone) back then. But I get your general point.

  3. Good post. The point to add about the building through the draft is the need for consistency at the top, which has not been a Raptor trait at all. One key to successful teams is stability, and that means a core of talent that plays together for years and is identified with the franchise (core means at least three), and it also means management and coaches. Donnie Nelson in Dallas, West/Kupchak and Jackson in LA, Buford and Popovich in San Antonio, Riley and Van Gundy in New York, now Riley in Miami.

    As much as fans want to complain about Colangelo, he has cachet with agents (who really help run things) and the league. Colangelo keeps the Raps on the cusp of relevance and will matter when (I am not saying if, I am a believer right now) the team gets close. He will be able to pull some of those “black ops” moves like helping get Peja to the Mavs (or Riley’s infamous Anthony Carter incident), but this time they will help the Raps get a few of those necessary pieces for a championship push.

    And, how about coaching instability. The closest the Raps had was Lenny Wilkens at the end of his run, when he was not much of a worker. How great will it be to have a coach here for 7 to 10 years with an established style of ball and a front office that keeps feeding that coach the type of talent he needs to succeed. I look forward to years of Dwane Casey, and it may mean some real growing pains along the way.

    The time may finally be here where the Raps are no longer a start-up, and they morph into a model franchise, and with a more restrictive CBA, the Raps have a better chance than ever to hold onto this core. Let’s hope it is the right one.

  4. honestly, we all should think this way.
    In my opinion I love Bargs as a 6th man.
    Think of the possilibity, he can get 30 min per game
    And share PF and C with Val and Davis. This will benefit our team having 2 styles of play, all we need is a PG to push our team.

  5. I don’t believe you, you need more people!!

    BC is a snake with a forked tongue slithering though the TDot after he BullChitted- ‘New Winning Plan’ , his way to a new 2 year contract w/ a Team option on a 3rd year earlier this off season to remain as both President & GM of the Raptors- one man has too much power- no checks and balances just a BC ‘CON’sensus whatever that really means.

    BC will pr spin any Raptor related particular as he sees fit via his minions in the TDot media, RaptorsTV and in the blogosphere.

    As well, calling fans prejudice is facetious propaganda- pass the fluoride.

    So, if you don’t agree with the Jonas pick and/or BC’s Euro vision for the Rap’s you are to be labeled as an xenophobic or a racist or a prejudice person?lmfao

    Is this some FBI Cointelpro misinformational operation here?smdh

    Even my (Societal) conditioning has been conditioned.

    The greatest weapon of BC is the minds of the fans- recognize.

  6. @BCGheradiniJayGots2Go

    Man, you’re gettin really boring. smh..

  7. Building through the draft can be either bad or good.
    Raptors are taking too much time to develop players -since they never really had a good structure team system. They rely on players individual talents alot.
    Hopefully with Casey it could change.
    After 1 full year a player should be already productive/knowledgeable in every facet of the NBA game.
    For example the clippers have been building through the draft forever, but don’t have a definitive team system where a young player can find himself, so a player never thrive to his full potential.
    In comparaison the spurs always draft less known players late in the first round and they become instant contributors and solid NBA players.

  8. “Building through the draft” = “Tanking until you luck into a hall of fame talent in the draft”

    Hopefully the Raptors are able to find that guy before the franchise becomes Minnesota east because DeRozan, Davis, Bargnani, etc. are just guys. They’re not going to be integral parts of any team that wins a lot of games.

  9. Wow so many people here can see the future.

  10. If this team overacieves next season and fall out of the lottery(because to me it seems that Raptors, rightfully so, are positioning themselves to hit the lottery) that will disrupt the plan.
    A top five pick in next years deep draft might be the biggest piece to our build through the draft direction.

    Great article, btw. Damon, Camby and TMac would of been a great core to watch together. Didn’t we draft one of the Esposito brothers in our early years?

  11. Tinman: I’ll be shocked if the Raptors don’t have a top 10 draft pick in 2012. I actually expect they’ll have another top five pick. As for Valanciunas, I’ve definitely done a 180 on him. I have no idea how he’ll turn out, but I think he has as much upside as anyone in this draft. Look at it this way, BC haters: If Valanciunas doesn’t show anything impressive in 2012-13, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Colangelo will be fired. I’ve come around to admiring the balls it took to make this pick.

  12. Raptors today with Barbosa in the fold at 10 contracts, at an average age of 24.4 years with Calderon and Barbosa the only veterans, and $47mil commited for 2011/2012 whenever and if it begins.
    Leaves an unknown amount (new CBA to come) to spend on 5 contracts to fill out roster with the top priority a def C to keep the spot warm for Jonas to come next year and get a start in the NBA.
    Roster as of now:
    Calderon PG
    Bayless PG
    DeRozan SG
    Barbosa SG
    J Johnson SF
    Kleiza SF
    A Johnson F
    Davis F
    Bargnani F/C
    Alabi C

    Valanciunas, C, unsigned @ Rytas, LTL

  13. Re Colangelo’s balls, he is what he is, a professional experienced GM doing what his job has been and will be, making the moves that he considers the best for the short term and long term best for his employer, given the best information available to him regardless of the long term effect on his employment

    If a GM’s moves are motivated by fan reation or MEDIA critique (whatever that word means) he will very soon be a part of them, watching someone else do the job.

  14. @ Scott Carefoot

    Admiring another mans balls- pause?lmfao

    Or another man’s arrogance towards fans who question his cognivity and Rap’s Euro based vision? BC has messed up the Rap’s post Sam & CB- point blank, he is both the President & GM of the Rap’s no one questions his authority ie BC ‘CON’census.

    As well, when Jonas finally does comes over for 2012-13 BC will most likely say that he is a ’5 year project’, book it Dan-O!

    So, it doesn’t matter what he does in year 1, 2 ,3, 4 or 5 as Barg’s is still here after being a 5 year project and half assing his way through the past 2 3/4 past seasons under Jay and his no accountability era design specifically for AB to develop.

    I get a funny feeling that BC isn’t going anywhere as we don’t even know who the new Rap’s ownership will be (if there will be) plus if Peddie and/or another BC friendly is a shareholder or a prominent entity within that new ownership group BC may be here for life.

    Until that ownership particular is finalized BC can manipulate fans via the media as he sees fit as BC is a professional liar, deceiver- trust him?- not on your life.

    That being said BC has the Rap’s are on the road to being the T’Wolves of the East aka a perpetual Lottery bound team- time will tell.

  15. TROLLLLLLLLLLL! TROLL IN THE DUNGEON!

    At first I thought this guy was being legit, but no one is that fucking dumb. Or annoying.

  16. @ Moi (aka Toy Boy)

    Looks like I have an e stalker- please drop the candy and pull your pants up as you step out of the Elementary school yard bushes. (Officer Friendly voice)

  17. So I’m your stalker because I frequent this blog, and post something in response when you say something moronic? Great fucking deductive skills.

  18. “Admiring another mans balls- pause?lmfao”

    Because gay jokes are funny and clever!

  19. Well at least they have a plan, a few good young players and plenty of cap space (New CBA Permitting)

    I’m still not a fan of the pick although, I do hope he does well when he finally arrives. The pressure will be on him from day one and he will be compared to every player selected after him … if Walker or knight become stud’s look out Jonas’s time in Toronto will be difficult.

    If BC can land a good defensive minded center this offseason, figure out the PF log jam and then include our 2012 lottery pick we should have some thing to forward to.

  20. @CB4 NOT

    Jonas is supposed to be the defensive center, and other then tyson chandler i don’t see any other free agent centers that would be worth signing. Anyways Tyson Chandler is gonna get a butt load of money from the mavs (assuming Mark Cuban can under the new CBA).

  21. @ Alex

    Supposed to be and is are two different realities as Casey has called him both a 4 and a 5.

    Sam Dalembert is an UFA as well.

  22. Look no further than OKC. They stank up the joint real bad for a while. Admittedly, they found a game changer in Durant and look where it took them. Rebuilds take time. If people are dilligent, they won’t be as messed up as other franchises (see Minnesota, Clippers even though prior to the departure of KG, Minny was a great franchise). The Raps need more time, dilligence and they’ll find their own game-changer. Jonas is just as part of the puzzle, as do Demar and Ed.

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