Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A New Raptors Season Just Around The Corner

So like with many of you, the new Raptors season doesn't begin for me until draft night. Regardless if we have a pick or not, the NBA really doesn't seem all that real to me until we get the commissioner up on that stage and announcing names left and right.

Draft Night. There's nothing like it.

It only seemed like yesterday that Raptors Nation was caught up in a buzz of hysteria, wondering and/or debating as to who the Raps would pick up at the 9th slot. As we all now know, we ended up taking DeMar DeRozan. Though we still may not know how that pick will turn out, it was the build up to that pick that made last year's draft night so memorable.

Little did we know, but it turns out this year's draft will far eclipse the excitement and importance of last year's version. Raptors Nation realizes we're at a crossroads here. With Chris Bosh likely hitting free agency, a new era in Raptors basketball is likely to occur. What we end up doing with our 13th pick will have a huge impact on what kind of team we'll be looking at for the next 3-5 years.

So with everyone having their own opinions on who we should take, I'll hit you with the three players I feel like would be awesome additions to the Raptors.

With the 13th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors select...

Cole Aldrich

Okay, I'll just get it out of the way since I know some of you are thinking it. But no, he's not comparable to Hoffa. Whether it's on the message boards or during discussions with my friends, Rafael Araujo's name always comes up when Aldrich is being discussed. But truth be told, they're nothing alike.

This guy is a legit NBA center. Listed at 6'11, Cole has all the tools needed to survive in the league. He proved to the entire nation during his time at Kansas that he can be that guy that holds the paint down. He plays with a high motor, is an excellent rebounder, and blocking shots is a specialty of his - something we Raps fans aren't accustomed to hearing.

On top of that, he's a smart kid. He was named the Academic All-American of the year, which shows that he puts in the work needed to be successful both on the court, and in the classroom. I get it - he's not the sexy pick. He's not overly athletic. He has one of the ugliest looking shots I've ever seen. Nor will he ever probably be a 20 point scorer. But you can guarantee that he'll be a very solid rotational player who will put up 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks throughout his career. Think of a Kendrick Perkins or a Sammy D. These are the kind of players you need to be successful in the NBA.

Paul George

Check it. This guy doesn't even have his own Wiki page yet. But you can bet by now, every single team in the lottery knows who Paul George is. He's got the height (6'8) and length of a SF, and the shooting ability of a SG. Combined with the ability to jump out of the gym with the simplest of ease, and you've got a very intriguing prospect. Just imagine him running down the court with the Young Gunz?

The best part is that he's actually already quite familiar with one of the members - DeMar DeRozan. Having been quoted from his twitter feed of loving the idea of playing with DeMar, a duo of DeRozan and Geroge would be the closest we could get to duplicating the Vince/Tracy duo next season.

The only drawback is that he did play for Fresno State, and no offense to them, but the competition Paul played against was obviously inferior to that of Division 1 teams. With that said, I do like his height, length, and the ability to shoot the long ball; especially if he's going to be playing with DeMar and Sonny. Hopefully he improves his handles, because we still lack that wing who can create.

Avery Bradley

Let's put it this way.

Worst Case Scenario: Juan Dixon

Best Case Scenario: Russel Westbrook

Avery Bradley represents the current NBA fad - the lightning quick and super athletic scoring combo guard. Think Derrick Rose, Russel Westbrook, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings. The NBA is starting to see an influx of players who are too undersized to truly play the 2 spot, so are placed at the 1 to reek havoc. They're basically point guards who are given the green light to shoot the ball, and can take over at any point of the game. A pass first point guard? Pssh. Who needs that anymore? That's why John Wall is going #1. Teams want their PG to be amazingly athletic and have the ability to score the ball.

This is what Bradley thrives in doing. He can score the ball from anywhere on the court, has the quickness to break his man off the dribble, and the athleticism to finish at the rim. On top of that, he's been noted as perhaps the best perimeter defender in this year's draft.

So why could he potentially be at the 13th pick? Well like Aldrich (low ceiling) and George (played against weaker competition), Bradley too has his shortcomings. For one, Bradley had a very rough year while he played for the University of Texas. Being heralded as one of the top recruits in the country only a year ago, Bradley's stock has plummeted partly due to how the Longhorns put up a stinker of a season. On top of that, he was one of the worst finishers at the basket last year. You can imagine why that scares off some teams. Think of a Westbrook or Rose without the finishing ability..Yikes.

So with that all said, who do I want the most? Well I rank them like this:

1. Paul George
2. Cole Aldrich
3. Avery Bradley

With Turkoglu surely on his way out, I would love to bring in another wing who doesn't only happen to be taller than DeMar and Sonny, but also has better range. A future wing core of DeRozan-George-Weems is a nice thing to have moving forward. I also took into consideration that we could find a center through free agency or trade (Bosh for Bynum, Turk for Dalembert, etc.)

Of course, I should note that I also think out of the 3 players listed here, I think George is also the least likely to still be on the board come the 13th pick. If that happens, I hope we can take Aldrich at 13, and somehow obtain another pick in the first round, thus snagging Bradley. Picking up two players who pride themselves on the defensive end would be absolutely huge for this Raptors team.

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