It's been a whirlwind 48 hours.
What started off as a last-minute acknowledgment of press access to the draft from the Raptors and the NBA, turned into a full-blown media frenzy by Thursday evening, and an amazing opportunity for myself and for RaptorsHQ all-around.
From having post-draft drinks with the Draftexpress staff, to meeting folks from Slam Magazine and ESPN.com, many of whose work I'd been reading since I was about 15, the entire weekend has certainly been one to remember.
The hope is that overall, this weekend is one to remember for Raptors' fans, with the selection of Demar DeRozan being the start of something extremely special and a moment fans will look back upon in three or four years as a "franchise-changing event."
As I've discussed many a time in the past few days, the DeRozan pick is going to take some time to grow on me. It sounds like the kid is going to work his heart out and is extremely excited to be heading to TO, two huge first steps, however I'm not sold. I worry about the time it will take for him to have an impact, if he has one at all, and still feel like there were other options for Bryan Colangelo that would
have had a more immediate and definite impact.
However I hope I'm wrong.
As many of you saw in the video I shot in the MSG Media Area, DeRozan sees himself as an important part of the Toronto puzzle next year, and if that ends up being the case, it's a huge step forward for the franchise.
It's quite possible that the HQ will be in Vegas to watch DeRozan's first steps via Summer League, so we should be able to gauge just how big of a learning curve there'll be for the youngster from Compton.
However even with the DeRozan selection, something that seemed to make a number of fans happy, there was some general discord about the way the rest of the draft played out for Toronto. Seeing players like Sam Young, DeJuan Blair and Patty Mills go so late in the draft had to make you wonder why Bryan Colangelo wasn't looking to snatch any of these players up.
The word in New York was simply that the price for second round picks this year was too high, but when you saw teams like Houston buying up multiple picks, you had to scratch your head a bit. While other teams like the Spurs and Eockets were snatching up second-round steals like DeJuan Blair and Jermaine Taylor, Toronto seemed to simply be waiting things out, looking forward to July 1.
The one positive fall-out in my opinion though was that a number of players with NBA potential weren't drafted including HQ favourites Jerel McNeal, Paul Harris, and Wes Matthews. One of our readers posted some other solid options too including UConn forward Jeff Adrien and guard Dionte Christmas, a player who the Raptors liked the look of in pre-draft workouts. Hopefully some of these names will find themselves on the Dinos' Summer League roster.
Speaking of which, the following is the schedule for Toronto's Vegas entry:
Friday, July 10 vs. L.A. Lakers
Saturday, July 11 vs. Detroit
Monday, July 13 vs. Portland
Wednesday, July 15 vs. Milwaukee
Thursday, July 16 vs. Phoenix
This year's Raptors entry should be very intriguing as aside from DeRozan, Toronto actually has roster spots to fill so besides the likes of Jawai, Douby and O'Bryant, we could see other individuals from the squad get training camp invites.
I'll be back from New York on Sunday and ready to switch from draft to free-agent mode. The early word is that with the Vince Carter deal, one that I actually like more for the Nets than the Magic, Hedo will be on the open market and the Raptors will be making a solid push.
This frankly scares the hell out of me.
Not because I don't think Hedo could help the team, I definitely think he could be a huge boost at the 3 spot. No, it's more because I worry about overpaying an inconsistent player, especially one who I feel accomplished much of what he did because of the system he played in.
However he and Maurizio go way back, so I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Toronto make a serious play for his services.
If they can get him for cheap, then fire away.
If not, I'm hoping that the team has a major plan B...
...or DeRozan really is ready to take on the "Air Canada" handle...