The Raptors' recent success on the floor continues to push them further and further back in the race for the number one pick in the draft. But, as the HQ's Scott Campsall argues, this may not be such a bad set of circumstances for the Raptors' future.
From the outset of the season there have been two main goals for this young Raptor squad: develop internal young talent, and finish the season in contention for a top pick in the draft. Neither were particularly lofty goals, and the latter is somewhat embarrassing when you consider the implications of finishing that low in the standings.
Yet, that is the reality that a team like the Toronto Raptors and their fan base have to deal with. In order to get a top flight talent you are going to have to do it through the draft which means piling up the L’s for at least a couple of seasons.
This is something the Raptors were able to do last season. Although they finished with the third worst record in the entire league, they ended up picking fifth but selected what many seem to see as the second best talent in the draft pool. This season however, things haven’t quite gone according to that plan.
The Dinos got lucky—or unlucky depending on how you look at it—by having a number of key players including Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon go down for extended periods of time which certainly added a number of losses to their record.
But the fact of the matter is that Dwane Casey has this team playing hard every night out and by virtue of simply giving that much effort on a nightly basis, the Raptors are going to get a few wins against teams that have more talent and this is exactly what we have seen over the past few weeks with their most recent wins against Boston and Atlanta.
At the end of the day, this team just isn’t one of the worst five teams in the league and their final record will reflect that, however that doesn’t mean that they won’t end up with a significant player in the draft in June.
Despite all of the initial hype that lauded this draft as one of the best in recent years, the performance of a number of key prospects—like Andre Drummond, Perry Jones and Harrison Barnes—has caused many to rethink that notion.
It now appears that there is slightly different composition of talent at the top of the draft. Currently you have Anthony Davis as the clear prize of the draft, and then a couple of potential All Stars in Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, Bradley Beal and Thomas Robinson but, after that, things get a little murky. The difference between the player picked 5th overall and the player picked 10th may end up being very little-to-nonexistent and considering the quality of the players slotted to go in those spots, this could be another opportunity for the Dinos to grab a sleeper.
Picking outside of that top five may not be the worst case scenario for this club. While there is little doubt that having a player like Michael Kidd-Gilchrest or even Bradley Beal would do wonders in improving this team, players that should be available in the 6-10 spots may end up being just as valuable as those outside of the top 2 or 3.
Considering that some combination of Davis, Beal, Kidd-Gilchrest and Thomas Robinson will be picked in the first four slots, that leaves a number of interesting prospects for the Dinos to select from somewhere in that 5-10 range.
To me, selecting in that 5-10 range means you are able to take more of a risk with that pick that you would be if you were selecting in the top 3 or 5. This is why I think Colangelo and Co. should consider selecting either of the draft’s biggest enigmas in Terrance Jones or Perry Jones. III
I know people are going to think I am crazy. I have watched both of those guys drift through games listlessly, making lackadaisical plays time and time again, but I have also seen both of those guys dominate games on both ends of the floor for stretches at a time.
Given the talent that each of these players possess and Dwane Casey’s ability to get the most out of his players, I think that taking a gamble on either of the Jones’ could be worthwhile.
Perry Jones is as skilled as they come, and if utilized properly could fit nicely into the swingman role that the Raptors have desperately needed for quite some time now. If Casey can motivate Jones to play to the utmost of his ability, than the Raptors could have a scary talented player on their hands, but if not, well I think that any fan who has lived through the Andrea Bargnani era in Toronto knows what the alternative is.
On the other hand, I could also see a much safer selection making sense for the Dinos. Given the point guard issues this team has had over the years, selecting someone as steady as North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall may just end up being the answer to their problems at the point guard spot.
Marshall may not be a Derrick Rose type of point guard; however his ability to defend as well as effectively run a team’s offense makes him quite an asset at the next level. His Andre Miller-type play is exactly what this Raptors team needs from the point guard position, and with Calderon under contract for next year, Marshall would have at least a season’s worth of time coming off the bench and adjusting to coach Casey’s system while hopefully picking up a thing or two from the veteran Calderon.
There are a number of other options that could be in play here including Weber State’s Damian Lillard, Jared Sullinger from Ohio State or even the aforementioned Harrison Barnes. Each carry with them their share of strengths and weaknesses, but the fact remains that Casey is going to get the best out of whatever player Colangelo and the rest of the Raptor braintrust decide to select with that lottery pick.
This team appears to be in good hands with Dwane Casey at the helm. The more wins this team gets, the greater their confidence grows and the brighter the future of this team begins to look.
So maybe the Raptors win a few games to end this season and maybe they don’t get to pick in the one of the top 3 spots in the draft, but that doesn’t mean this team won’t be significantly better come next season.
At the end of the day, Casey is going to get the best out of his players and one of the biggest successes of this season has been Casey's ability to do just that.