Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Quiet Draft In Toronto

Most NBA cities were going crazy over the 2007 NBA Draft, touted as the best since that hallowed 2003 class that brought us LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Toronto was curiously hushed though; not being in the lottery for the first time since 2002, and not even having a pick for that matter, there wasn't much for the fan base to discuss. In the bar where I watched the draft, for example, I had to request for them to switch one of the TVs from the Yankees game. (They happily obliged, just saying...)

There were a lot of players who would have looked great in Raptors uniforms in that draft, with rumours placing Bryan Colangelo directly in the hunt for a first-round pick. Among the players we allegedly coveted, most of them international, were Rudy Fernandez and Tiago Splitter. Fernandez looks like an interesting player but it's Splitter who's the killer. He's a player I've wanted on the Raptors for a good couple years, he's a lottery talent and, of course, all that meant that he went straight to the Spurs.

Something that alarmed many of the more die-hard fans, myself included, was the ease with which teams bought first-rounders combined with the Raptors not getting one. Portland, the undisputed winner of the draft, managed to buy the #30 overall selection (which became Finnish guard Petteri Koponen) as well as not only buy Phoenix's #24 (the aforementioned Fernandez) but also get James Jones in the transaction. Jones, who was a solid sub for Phoenix, could potentially start in Portland and he'd at least be in the mix for that job here too.

Given Colangelo's track record thus far, though, it's hard to call his inactivity a failure. There were clearly many things going on that we didn't see on draft night, the countless fruitless trade scenarios among them, and it's impossible not to think that Colangelo wasn't trying to do something. Well, something other than land Greek prospect Giorgios Printezis, who'll be a solid guy to have stashed overseas but won't provide the kind of immediate impact a lot of fans wanted.

I suppose all I can say about the Raptors' draft is that we were at a disadvantage going in and you can't win every time. Sure, Canada's team would look utterly formidable if it had Fernandez, Splitter and maybe a swingman like Alando Tucker for good measure. Most playoff contenders would. What's next is to put aside the barely-existing memory of a lacklustre draft and look ahead to free agency. Don't worry - it starts tomorrow.


Fairview4Life said...

Unfortunately, the Portland "purchase" of the 24th pick wasn't exactly easy. They had to get the trade exception from the Randolph trade in order to flip that for James Jones. The Raptors would have had to have sent salary back to Phoenix, obviously defeating the purpose from their end. Only teams with capspace and trade exceptions could have dealt for that pick. Rumour has it that the Raps did have a deal on the table offering $3million and/or a 2nd round pick, but that was obviously trumped by the Blazers. Nothing Colangelo could have done really. Frustrating indeed.

Paul Jewitt said...

Also, i wouldn't say that the following in necessarily accurate:

Among the players we allegedly coveted, most of them international,

rumours i heard leading up the to draft, from 2 different (and proven) sources confirmed that Julian Wright was the most coveted prospect in the eyes of the Braintrust.

It is interesting to me that 'the media' seems to be perpetuating this idea, or atleast focusing much more on it. While I would characterize the Braintrust's motives as being open to any player regardless of nationality (lets call it nationality-blind), the media seems to be (overtly in many cases, very casually in others but still there) trying to reinforce the idea that Toronto exclusively looks at International Players (which is patently stupid).

I had one person try to argue that if BC had had the first or second pick in this draft that he would have used it on Marco Belinelli.