So the Raptors didn't land the first pick overall, or even a top three pick for that matter. But as Franchise discusses, what looked like a terrible outcome, might not be so bad after all.
No surprise, the Toronto Raptors ended up with the 13th pick in the upcoming draft.
However after seeing picks 12 through 7 go in order, things went pretty wacky didn't they?
A crew of us from the HQ were taking in the draft lottery at a local sports bar and the immediate reaction to seeing these three teams in the mix for a top spot was one of despair. All of a sudden, three Eastern Conference teams had a chance at the likes of John Wall and Evan Turner, not to mention two of these clubs being in the Raptors' own division. Was this going to be a worst-case scenario for the Dinos?
Consider the possible outcomes...
-With John Wall on the Nets, this would open the door for a serious LeBron James bid.
-With Evan Turner, the Washington Wizards go from a mess to a suddenly intriguing club with a one-two-three punch of Arenas, Howard and Turner.
-And with either Cousins or Favors on the 76ers, Philly looks to take a big step forward, filling a hole at the 4 that Elton Brand could not previously fill.
Translation - bad news for a Raptors team that's attempting to get back into the playoff race next season, with or without Bosh.
However a funny thing happened.
From this worst-possible outcome, the best possible one emerged:
-New Jersey didn't get Wall or Turner, thereby likely thwarting any LeBron ideas.
-Turner heads to Philadelphia where his skill-set is greatly duplicated by Andre Iguodala, perhaps making Iggy available.
-And Wall lands in Washington, where the Wizards now must decide if they want to experiment with him AND Arenas in the back-court, or if Arenas is now going to be shown the door.
All in all, for a finale that saw three Eastern Conference teams in the top trifecta, including two direct divisional competitors, it could have been a lot worse.
So now what?
For the Raps, it's time to get to work regarding what to do with this pick.
I for one have no illusions that the pick will result in a franchise-altering prospect being selected, but there are some interesting options out there. Many folks are already tagging the Raptors with Texas guard Avery Bradley at 13, something Chad Ford has done in his latest mock draft on ESPN.com.
One might wonder why the Raps would look at selecting another point guard when they have two, however Bradley admittedly makes a ton of sense on various levels. To start with, he was one of the best perimeter defenders in college last season, and perimeter D is something the Dinos could obviously use a serious dose of. He's also hardly a true point guard, more cut from the Russell Westbrook cloth, a long and athletic scorer who is still learning the 1. This might mean a nice fit beside the "ball" monster Hedo, and is the exact type of player who thrives in today's NBA.
And finally...did anyone mention that he was actually a more heralded recruit in high school than John Wall? In a draft where there looks to be very little difference talent-wise between the 12th and 35th pick, Bradley has some of the highest upside in the draft.
However it's still so early to be pegging any one prospect.
I'm sure Bradley is amongst a pool of candidates the Raps are looking closely at with the 13th pick, but I wouldn't rule out the likes of Daniel Orton, Ekpe Udoh, Damion James, Paul George, and Patrick Patterson as of yet.
As well, it's no sure thing that Toronto keeps this pick.
Colangelo has a track record for moving draft choices and considering he seems intent on competing for a playoff spot again next year, he might very well be looking for help now, rather than a prospect for down the road.
For the first time in years, I'm admittedly not sure. Unlike the past drafts where I was in love with players like Terrence Williams, DeJuan Blair, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Rajon Rondo and Danny Granger, this year I've no such man-crush. My favourite player, and the prospect I'd been pining to see in a Raps uniform the past two seasons, Evan Turner, will be long gone by 13. And numerous other prospects who I think would be good fits in Toronto like Dominique Jones, Stanley Robinson, Quincy Pondexter and Devin Ebanks, all may fall into the second round. It's that jammed a draft.
I've got my top choices list, but I'll be waiting to make final judgements until I see some of them in person working out for the team, as well as the release of some metrics that have been pretty good predictors of NBA success.
Oh...and I'm sure we'll be going through A LOT of last season's NCAA game-tape.
The one point of warning that I'll end this on though is regarding the 13th pick itself.
Last year ESPN.com released their "D.R.A.F.T. Initiative" which examined the NBA Draft from various statistical angles. In their research, while they discovered that players drafted at the 13th spot on average produced more wins than expected for their draft position, a great deal of this higher-than-expected-ranking was thanks to Kobe Bryant. He was the 13th pick in the 1996 draft and his NBA career performance to date greatly skewed that figure. Without him, this was traditionally one of the worst spots to be drafting from.
And looking beyond Kobe at the last ten 13th picks in the NBA Draft, we get some idea as to why:
As you can see, there's not a ton there outside of Richard Jefferson to work with.
That's not to say Toronto can't nab a great player, but statistically time and time again it's been shown that after about the 10th pick, it's a real crapshoot as to what you're getting.
This year is no different and in fact, I'd argue because of the depth and similarity in talent, it's even moreso the case. In fact, you're statistically better off to go fishing late in the first round or early in the second!
More importantly I think is now what the lottery means for various other teams, as Bryan Colangelo can now get to making calls about players availabilities and target teams who may now want to shuffle the deck.
There's no doubt it's going to be a very interesting next eight weeks and I believe last night's lottery was just the proverbial "tip of the ice-berg..."