"With the twentieth pick, the Toronto Raptors select..."

Mar 30, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Adreian Payne (5) shoots the ball during the second half against the Connecticut Huskies in the finals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports


It’s time for Yours Truly to climb off the fence, and suggest some players I’d like to see wearing Toronto Raptors colours next season. Of course, the #20 pick won’t net our team one of the glittering stars of the June 26 draft, so I’m not reviewing  Andrew Wiggins. We’re not likely to hit a home run, but a single would be nice. I’ve tried to make clear my skepticism surrounding the entire “best player available” mantra, and my selections are based on what I perceive are the Raptors’ needs.

Adreian Payne – A 6’10″ Power Forward out of Michigan State, Payne is 23 and a senior, both of which make him an anomaly in this freshman-loaded draft. He is more ready than most for the pro game, as he has a high-percentage jump shot with range, some decent low-post moves, and can grab some boards. Adreian doesn’t project as a star, but could be a solid rotation player for years.

Cleanthony Early – Another 23-year-old, Early is a swingman with an average set of tools. His ceiling is not high, but he looks like someone who can contribute immediately. I can see him making the team out of camp, as cheap insurance/Q4 mop-up behind TRoss and DeMar. Early has apparently done well in his pre-draft workouts.

Clint Capela – A Swiss [I don't think I've ever used that adjective before] Centre/Power Forward who is tall and skinny, Capela is the object of much disagreement among draft experts, some of whom don’t even have him in the first round. Capela is barely 20, and will be a project player for any team which drafts him. From what little film I’ve seen of his EuroLeague play, he has lots of talent, all of it raw. I’ve written that the Raps shouldn’t draft a project, but he may be the best big man of those left when it’s Masai’s turn.

Kyle Anderson – Perhaps the most intriguing player likely to be still on the board, Anderson is a skinny, slow and oversized point guard out of UCLA. I like our team to have different looks, and if Anderson were somehow to make the big team, he would be as far removed from Kyle Lowry as one can imagine. I’d prefer to leave him to the second round.

Jerami Grant – Another swingman, Jerami went to Syracuse and is the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant. Jerami’s body appears to have more growth in it, as he’s still young and slender. He’s got some talent, but no range on his jump shot, which is a major buzzkill for his position. If we draft this fellow, he’ll need 2 seasons in the D-League before he’s heard from. Choosing him requires a leap of faith.

Those are the likely choices remaining when the clock starts ticking on Masai’s choice. For my money, we need size, and someone who can help out right away. I think that’s Payne.



Tags: Masai Ujiri Toronto Raptors

  • bcjay

    The future is uncertain. Insurance on Lowry leaving would be a better use of the first round pick. Elfrid Payton, good size, defensive awareness, strong distributor. Ennis(just a dream), or Napier, speed and heart.

    IF LOWRY LEAVES, Vasquez and Decolo, may be fine. Neither seems to have Lowry like upside.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi bcjay:
      You sound like a man who’s already kicked Stone & Buycks to the curb. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I suspect Masai isn’t prepared to do that yet.
      Lowry’s departure would throw everything up in the air. I agree Vasquez and De Colo would be OK to start the season with, but not a long-term solution.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • bcjay

        Hey Brian,
        Your half right about kicking Stone and Buycks to the curb, not completely sold on De colo either. It is more that the players available at 20, are an uninspiring lot. Most will take time(1 -2 seasons) before they can even contribute as rotation players.

        The three players I listed (Payton, Ennis, Napier)will have the opportunity to contribute as they learn the systems behind the incumbents. That kind of depth will allow us more opportunities to use the 2pt guard system that was effective in creating ball movement. Stashing away a point guard to develop seems a better idea than trying to find a starting wing player at 20. Its true we need a true 3(Deng anyone?)

        Our single biggest strength as an organization was our guard play. All stars, snubs etc. This seems to be the perfect pick to support our suddenly All NBA guard play. The picks at 20 are by and large not great. These three guys all bring NBA skillsets. Capella, Payne?… Not seeing it.

        Thanks for responding Brian.

        Sorry to disagree about which position would best serve the Raptors.

        • Newmarket_Brian

          HI again:
          To take your last point first – I’ve never had a problem with people disagreeing with me, presuming their counter-positions are sound. Yours are, but we can respectfully agree to disagree. I think we need help in the front court, you think the back. No problem.
          I like De Colo, it’s true, but I haven’t seen him facing elite PGs, so I don’t know whether he can hold his own defensively.
          Other commenters have suggested I should take a longer look at Payton, so I will. Ennis and Napier are well-known, and unlikely to be still around at 20.
          Stay in touch, please.

          • bcjay

            Thanks for the kind words.

            Most of the mock drafts have two of the three being available at twenty. I know thats not an exact reference point but any one of those three could… Okay I am going to stop belabouring the point. Have a great day.:-)

  • help me i’m on welfare

    Why do you not list Cleanthony Early? What do see in him that does not make him an option for the Raps? I am confused by this. He is NBA ready and a winner (plus he is a great player who will put T. Ross on the bench).

    • Newmarket_Brian

      ?? – I did list Early; he’s the second one I named.
      Those are some bold claims for the young man. I don’t think there are many players who will put TRoss on the bench. Time will tell.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • help me i’m on welfare

        Sorry I wear glasses and must have missed the his name in bold. I watched him play in the tournament against Kentucky and he was the most well rounded player out there. Plus he defended well and was always engaged (which is an issue for T Ross).

    • Ian De Vera

      Not only do you need financial help, you also need help with your eyes.

  • Omar Fouad

    IMO,we should take Elfrid Payton, I believe he’ll be the next Rondo and better than Ennis or Napier.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Omar:
      Payton seems to have a lot of fans. I’ll take another look at him, and perhaps he’ll be the subject of another post.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Trevor LeSueur

    Everyone obviously hopes to see Lowry back and I think we all got to stop worrying so much. The Raptors are a very stable team going into the offseason with no moves in the coaching staff and the direction of the organization is showing nothing but promise. Along with that, Lowry’s relationship with DeMar and the rest of the team is strong. I see Raps giving him the right amount of money to have him stay and sure a team like the Lakers might throw a bit of a bigger offer but who wants to go into that mess.

    As for the pick at #20 there are a couple scenarios that I could be happy with:

    1. If Payne is available you got to go with him. He’d be an immediate contributor off the bench behind both JV and Amir. The thing I would be a little concerned with is that he’s another stretch 4. It could go one or two ways: either it makes the Raps a more dangerous team with a small ball style or they become vulnerable in the post with lack of defence and rebounding. What do you think?

    2. If Raps feel that a wing player is a bigger need and players like Kyle Anderson, Cleanthony Early, or maybe even Glenn Robinson are available then I would be okay with any of those. Jerami Grant is interesting but still has a lot of growing to do and like stated in this article, I don’t think they’re looking for a project. If a wing player is taken in the first round then the Raps would need to go big in the 2nd and it would be interesting to see if they’d consider Khem Birch who would bring a lot of energy on the boards and solid defence/shot blocking.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Trevor:
      1. Payne didn’t finish his college career with a flourish, but has been given a pass because he had an undiagnosed case of mononucleosis. Assuming he’s back at full strength, I think he’s capable of holding his own in the defensive paint, particularly against opponents’ second units. On offense, I’d like to think he’s more than a stretch 4. If not, he’s really limiting himself.
      2. I don’t know this Khem Birch, but I’d take a look at him based on what you say.
      Thanks for commenting.
      P.S. I concur with your optimism.