Game On

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The ping pong balls have spoken.  To the Bobcats they said: “Too bad, so sad”, to the Hornets: “Here’s a present to your new owner” and to the Raps “comme ci, comme ca”.  We started at #8, and we stayed there.   Now BC and the rest of the highly paid suits need to earn their pay because, unlike the Hornets’ management, their decision has not been made for them.

Let’s look at who’s likely to be available at #8, through the filter of various NBA mock draft websites.  Anthony Davis is going #1, with Robinson and Kidd-Gilchrist to follow.  The consensus shifts at this stage, but let’s assume Drummond, Barnes, Sullinger, and Lillard are gone in some order by the time the Raps are on the clock.  If so the choice should be….

Hold the phone.  Aren’t we going at this bassackwards?  Shouldn’t we be trying to decide what we want next year’s team to look like before we figure out who to draft?  Hell, maybe we shouldn’t be drafting at all – how about packaging the pick in a trade?  If so, for what?   I’d love to see Paul Millsap, who’s a more-skilled Reggie Evans, wearing Raptors’ red & white.  Can we swing a deal with Utah, who didn’t make the playoffs, and don’t have a pick until #47 (gulp)?  A starting 5 of Jose, DD, Millsap, Andrea, & Jonas V, with the Johnson twins, Davis and Bayless coming off the bench, would certainly be competitive.

Maybe BC can’t find an acceptable deal, and so keeps the pick.  Conventional wisdom says you should always take the best player on the board, regardless of position, rather than drafting by need.  The flaw in this thinking is pretty obvious: what if, when it’s your turn to pick, there’s no agreement as to who the best player is?  You can’t ignore team needs, and the Raps have holes at small forward and both guard spots.

Before the 1984 draft, choosing for need was perfectly respectable.  Chicago selected some guy named Michael Jordan at #3, behind Hakeem Olajuwon [Houston], and Sam Bowie [Portland].  Jordan became the best player ever, leading those with 20-20 hindsight to mock the Trailblazers ad nauseam for overlooking MJ in favour of the ill-starred Bowie.   (I suppose the Rockets don’t get abused for picking Hakeem ahead of Michael, because Hakeem is in the  Hall of Fame.)  Drafting is very difficult, and there are a lot more misses than hits.  Michael Olowakandi went #1 in ’98, as did Joe Smith in ’95 – those are just two of many draft busts.   Bowie wasn’t a bust, but was crippled by injuries, like Greg Oden and Yao Ming.  Giants are vulnerable.

Back to the Raps.  Dwane Casey has proven his ability to instill a defensive mindset, but even he recognizes the team must develop a more robust offence.   We need to hit more three-balls, which will force the opponents to guard the perimeter, thereby allowing mobile bigs like Andrea more room to cut to the hoop for easy crams.  To do that, we need some shooters.   We also must look ahead to find Jose Calderon’s replacement. You can’t win in the modern NBA without a great point guard.

There it is – we need guards.  Unless a great deal comes along for a Paul Millsap, and we must send the pick along, let’s keep it and pick a shooter like Bradley Beal.  With our second round choices, which should not be overlooked, let’s find some more guys who can push DeRozan, and/or who can back up Jose.

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