With the 9th pick in the 2009 Draft, the Toronto Raptors choose...
When David Stern came to the podium at the 2009 Draft and announced that the Toronto Raptors were selecting Demar Derozan, it was clear that the Raptors as an organization were going out on a limb. Although not what many would consider the "safe" pick, the Raps felt comfortable selecting not only the best athlete but also the prospect with the best "upside" and raw talent.
I am left wondering why the Raptors decided to go in this direction.
We all know about the immediacy of the Raptors situation, but rather than picking a player that would definitely be able to contribute now, the
team chose a player who only performed at a high level for half a college season, went to great lengths to make sure he had individual workouts and is perhaps the most questionable shooter out of all the players who were available to the Raps. It's concerning.
Nevertheless, the Raptors have assembled a coaching staff that has always been good at player development. With Marc Iavaroni and Jay Triano, the Raptors have coaches that have worked with developing young stars such as Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, and current Raptor Chris Bosh.
DeRozan has shown an ability to defend as well as attack the rim, two qualities that the Raptors have unsuccesfully tried to get out of Joey Graham and Jamario Moon in seasons past. With two front court players that are good shooters, the Raptor's should benefit from having a player whose best avenue of attack is to initiate his offense off the dribble; something only Andrea Bargnani and Shawn Marion have been able to do in the past six months.
So what should be DeRozan's workout regiment for this summer?
The first thing the Raptors coaching staff must do is get DeRozan in to a gym and nail him down at the free throw line. With his athletic ability and his inability to shoot, the Raptors must turn DeRozan into a free throw shooting machine. There's no question that DeRozan will
be challenged around the rim, and in order to make him an effective part of the Raptors' future plans, he simply must increase his shooting percentage from the charity stripe to make it an important weapon in his arsenal. His secondary work assignment should be geared towards his strength and conditioning as he's only had one year in college and the Raptors may require his athletic prowess down the later parts of the season.
But for us fans, the biggest thing we must do is manage expectations.
If DeRozan has difficulties hitting his foul shot, the Raptors will not be able to keep him in during late game situations. Should the Raptors retain Anthony Parker (more on free-agency tomorrow), we may see DeRozan come off the bench. Of course how much playing time DD gets will, for the most part, be up to DeRozan. If the former USC student gets off to a slow start, we should all remember that his only year of college ball also had a similar start.
Maybe most importantly, we have to remember that this kid is still believed to be a "project" who may not reach his full potential even with two seasons under his belt. After all, Tracy McGrady, on a very bad Raptors team, couldn't even find court time under Darrell Walker and Butch Carter.
However, as with every rookie, he gives Raptors fans something to think about over the summer.
He gives us excitement and hope for the future.
And that's the power of the Draft.