My thanks to so many of you who have checked in with the names of players who the Toronto Raptors might select with their #20 selection in the June 26 draft. Let’s give the matter further thought.
NBA General Managers often suffer from herd mentality; I suspect because they’re afraid of criticism. The belief that a team should pick the best player available at their turn, regardless of positional need, appears so ingrained as to be above discussion. Yet I’ll quibble regardless. This BPA notion was hammered into stone tablets and brought down from the mountaintop following the 1984 draft in which Sam Bowie was selected ahead of Michael Jordan. Omigawd, how could anyone select Sam Bowie ahead of the greatest basketball player of all time? Well, I’ve done some reading of the pre-draft analysis of both players, and it was not at all clear to the best hoops minds that MJ was the top player regardless of position. While MJ was Rookie of the Year in ’84-’85, his best period of play was the nineties, which he owned. [20-second timeout: Note the Houston Rockets selected Hakeem Olajuwon #1, a choice they never had reason to regret. Bowie, whose career was ruined by injuries, was #2 and Jordan #3.]
My biggest complaint about “pick the best player” is a simple one – who’s to say who the best player is? Unless there’s a clear-cut standout, like Anthony Davis in ’12 or LeBron James in ’03, and your team has the #1 selection, the matter is debatable. Consider the Raps in ’06. We got lucky on the ping pong balls, got to choose #1 for the only time in our team’s history, and selected Andrea Bargnani instead of LaMarcus Aldridge. There was a lot of clamoring for Adam Morrison, who was selected #3 and became a notorious bust. Or how about two of the choices ahead of #5 selection Vince Carter in ’98 – Michael Olowakandi and Raef LaFrentz? Have you seen their names up in lights lately?
I suggest that “best player available” becomes even more fallacious the later the team’s selection; to be specific, the Raps’ #20 pick. Is it likely there will be someone with a neon light flashing “Here I am – the BPA” at that spot? Not a chance, so then we must consider two other possibilities: a project player a la Bismack Biyombo and Hasheem Thabeet, or a player at a position where we’re thin. For my money, it’s the latter. If we’re keeping the pick, let’s zero in on the power forward/centre position.
I’ve got some more thoughts on this matter, but I’d like to hear from you, Rapture Nation.