Since the Raptors’ season ended on April 26, we’ve gone over a month without any real, tangible news.
Sure, there have been some tantalizing and juicy rumours and reports (hello, Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin), some decent headlines (DeRozan joining U.S. Select Team), and other minor tidbits.
But in terms of things actually happening and real results, Wednesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery will mark the unofficial beginning of what should be a very intriguing off-season for Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors.
On Friday, Raptors Community Manager Jay Satur broke down the lottery itself and the Raptors’ chances in it.
Now we bring you our RaptorBlog Lottery Primer, with a quick look at who you should be keeping an eye on depending on what transpires Wednesday night.
No. 1 Pick (3.5 % chance): Anthony Davis – In reality, there’s no such thing as a “can’t miss prospect” in pro sports, especially when talking about young big men joining the NBA. But having said that, Anthony Davis is the closest thing to a can’t miss big man prospect you can find. He possesses incredibly impressive defensive instincts, has great length and size, runs the floor well and has a high level of untapped offensive potential, since the 6-10 power forward was playing as a 6-2 guard just a few short years ago. It’s crazy to see people already proclaiming Davis a star, a future superstar and someone with transcending talent, but I’ll say this, he’s a championship-type big man. His ability to impact a basketball game in so many ways, especially on the defensive end, makes him the type of big you build championship teams around.
No one in their right mind would take anybody but Davis with the No. 1 pick in 2012, and that’s all I have to say about that.
No. 2 Pick (4% chance): Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – From what I’ve seen, the only consensus pick after Davis at No. 1 as of right now should be his Kentucky teammate, small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Like Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist has a sky high defensive ceiling at his position, and like Davis, MKG still has a ton of untapped offensive ability. While his offensive range has to improve, Kidd-Gilchrist makes up for it by putting his head down and driving relentlessly to the basket on nearly all of his possessions. His “body on the line” mentality might make him susceptible to wear and tear, but I’ll take my chances with a guy who works his ass off over guys whose effort might come into question from time to time. He should be good enough defensively and get to the free throw line enough to make at least a decent NBA contribution right away. With his insanely high motor and reputable character, I don’t see why anyone would doubt how good the 18-year-old can be going forward.
While he’s not Anthony Davis, I’d still be incredibly excited if the Raptors land the No. 2 pick on Wednesday and the chance to draft Kidd-Gilchrist. Unless pre-draft workouts and combines significantly alter the landscape, or unless an executive is ballsy enough (and foolish enough) to take a guy like Andre Drummond ahead of him, then MKG should be the second name called out on June 28.
No. 3 Pick (4.8% chance): Bradley Beal, Thomas Robinson – The No. 3 spot is where things begin to get a whole lot more difficult to project. As I mentioned, there is the possibility that things change between now and draft night or that someone becomes so enamored with a big man that Kidd-Gilchrist falls to No. 3, but for the most part, I think landing anywhere outside the top-two means kissing the chances of Davis or MKG goodbye.
With that, the next few names should be the aforementioned Drummond, whose questionable performance at UCONN and the fact that he’s a risky big don’t really make sense for the Raptors, Florida’s Bradley Beal and Kansas’ Thomas Robinson. Beal can be a great scorer at the shooting guard position and Robinson’s a workhorse power forward whose effort level alone should ensure at least a decent NBA career, but neither of them seems like a slam dunk to me (that’s not to say I would be disappointed with these two). Nonetheless, as is stands right now, one of Beal or Robinson would be the logical choice for Toronto with Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist off the board.
No. 8 Pick (70.4% chance) – Despite some unspectacular college play, you would have to assume that based on potential alone, North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes and Baylor’s Perry Jones III will be off the board after the top-seven, but if one of those guys slips through the cracks and is available at No. 8, especially Barnes for me, it would be incredibly tough to pass them up.
No. 9 Pick (16.5% chance)
No. 10 Pick (0.8% chance)
No. 11 Pick (0.0001% chance)
If the Raptors don’t land in the top-three, there should be a plethora of options to debate about and choose between in the 8-11 range.
A guy like Dion Waiters, who one General Manager apparently compared to Dwyane Wade, could be a draft night steal. Damian Lillard and Kendall Marshall provide different styles of point guards to choose from, with Lillard being a potential scoring machine at the lead guard position. Personally, I wouldn’t take Marshall this high (in the lottery).
Jeremy Lamb, Austin Rivers and Terrence Ross, a trio of unpredictable shooting guards (Ross can play some small forward), could cause reason for optimism as well as frustration wherever they land.
Depending on how workouts go and how far the Raptors might drop, I still wouldn’t rule out Kentucky forward Terrence Jones either, whose talent, athleticism and potential on both ends of the court will never be doubted, but whose consistency (like Perry Jones III) is a big time question mark and cause for concern.
As you can probably tell, Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist are my runaway favourites, and if the balls miraculously bounce Toronto’s way and one those players is wearing a Raptors jersey next season, I’d be as excited for the future of this franchise as I’ve probably been since the Vince Carter Era.
If Davis and MKG go one and two, as they should, then I don’t know I like Beal or Robinson enough to really care about still moving up to No. 3, which again, isn’t a knock on my overall views of either player. But obviously, from an “options” and “asset” standpoint, three is better than 8-to-11.
Not that there are actual reports or even rumours about it out there, but I’m genuinely curious to know how other Raptors fans would feel about considering trading down in the draft (to obviously get an already established young NBA player) if Toronto doesn’t move up. Say if a guy like Kyle Lowry was available?
Lastly, it was announced today that Dwane Casey will represent the Raptors at the Lottery. In my humble opinion, no one else should have even been considered. From a basketball perspective, Dwane Casey’s philosophy (pound the rock, defence first, hard work) is what should represent this franchise going forward.