"Bosh in the post...kicks it out to Morrison for THREEEEE!!! That goes out to Jack Graham in Parsborro Nova Scotia..."
"Villanueva with the high-low feed and Aldridge with the CRAM!!!..."
"What a steal by Gay as he uses his reach to get into the passing lane resulting in a wide open dunk baby!..."
"Well folks, with that rebound and put back by Bargnani, I think you can take out the salami and cheese..."
"Calderon going upstairs...and SOMEHOW Tyrus Thomas with dunk!! That was sick, wicked and nasty!"
So which will it be folks? Which of these can you hear the Swirsk saying next year for the Raptors? Or will we hear ANY of them?
In fact, after last night, where do we begin?
I guess first of all we need to share some of the excitement that was "the pingpong balls." The NBA Lottery is always fun, in particular because the Raps are always involved (yes we realize this is not a good thing), and of course this year we hit the jackpot. Franchise thought we were going to get the third pick and I thought we'd be picking at five...but once we got past that fifth envelope...then to the third...
Oh, and as an aside, love the new and improved "Deal or No Deal" version of the NBA Lottery where Russ Granik makes like Howie and to further dramatize the events stops for commercial break after the fourth position is revealed. "And the third pick in the 2006 NBA Draft goes to...we'll find out right after these messages...."
So now we've got the first pick, what should the Raptors do?
Well, let's clear some things out of the way. I'm sure our buddy Dave Feschuk is penning something as we type this as to why this was the wrong year to win the draft with Greg Oden probably coming out next year. And I'm also sure the haters will be out in full force to claim likewise that this is the wrong draft to win as there is no franchise-changing player such as Lebron, Duncan or even another Bosh and will probably continue to argue that picks one through five are essentially the same in value.
But are they the same? And is winning the lottery a bad thing regardless of the year you win it? Not the last time we checked. It's not like we gave anything up to get the top spot. It was free to move up four spots in the draft, and in a year where there is no number one, talent is in the eye of the beholder...now watch Colangelo work that in his favour as he now essentially controls the draft. If he discovers the player he wants could be had at a lower position, maybe he'll trade down. Maybe he'll pretend to go after a certain player if he knows another team desperately covets that same player (see Portland and perhaps Adam Morrison being available to them) thus forcing a deal. And not only does the number one pick mean he controls the draft, as this year the draft really does start at 1, not like 2003 when the draft started at 4, but he now has arguably the best GM position in the NBA. He comes to Toronto and has about $16M in cap space, a franchise player who wants to re-sign, some serious young talent and now the number one pick in the draft. Damn it's good to be BC.
So now the obvious question becomes: Who do we take?
There is no doubt we are going to be discussing this ad nauseum, from the upcoming Playing GM: Version 2.0, to our discussion-style Mock Drafts but right now let's take a quick look at everyone's top five guys.
It was not too long ago that Bosh came out and said if he could pick anyone for this team it would be Aldridge. At 6'11", 245lbs, he is one of the, if not the, best big man prospect in the draft. LaMarcus has a solid inside and outside game, can play with his back to the hoop and is a great athlete for his size.
Want to run? Aldridge will keep up.
Want a shot blocker? Aldridge can provide that.
Back to the basket? Try a sick hook-shot.
Good character? You got it.
The UPSIDE (yes I am using the term) of LaMarcus is as high as anyone else's in this years draft and with his addition one could not help but think about the fits the Raps front-court could give other teams for years to come. Playing CV Smooth (6'10") at the three, Bosh (6'11") at the 4 and Aldridge (6'11"-7'0") at the 5 , all of whom have multiple aspects to their games, makes for some tough match-ups....add in a 6'5" PG in Roko and this squad is a nightmare for other teams a year or two down the road.
So suddenly why consider anyone else? Well many of you will remember when he was absolutely dominated by Glen Davis of LSU in the tourney. For all the size and athleticism Aldridge has, he desperately needs to put on some muscle. He can be pushed around and in many ways people question whether he has that KG like killer instinct. Ironically however, many people questioned whether the face of the Raps franchise, CB4, had this same instinct and toughness when he was drafted. And as we know, these concerns are no longer relevant.
Speaking of questions of killer instinct, how about Rudy Gay, another possible top pick? Gay is set to start workouts for teams at the end of the month and most will look to see how he fares going up against other top picks with similar skill sets. This will be a good test to see if Gay really was limited by UConn's disciplined sets and depth or if he really does look like an underachiever. Based alone though on skill set, athletic ability and size for his position, Rudy would be the top pick and if the Raptors are looking for a replacement for the departed number 15 then this is their guy. You can almost hear the fans in the ACC calling his name now, "Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!"
Or how about LSU jumping jack Tyrus Thomas? The 6-9 forward would give the Raps an immediate upgrade in the "I can jump higher and block more shots than any of you" department and would be an interesting option off the bench who could probably play either forward positions. In terms of potential, Thomas perhaps has the most of anyone after he came out of nowhere this past season to become a legitimate number one pick. He's still fairly raw, but so was a certain Shawn Marion when Colangelo grabbed him via the draft back in Phoenix.
And while this pick probably doesn't make sense for the Raptors, Adam Morrison would have to be considered here as well. There are questions about Morrison in terms of his defense, athletic ability and of course his diabetes but make no mistake, Morrison is as competitive as they come and should be able to fill it up as soon as he steps in the league. His player of the year race with JJ Redick kept him in the spotlight all season and the team who choses him really knows what they're getting because of his exposure. The other factor going for Morrison is simply his character and zany moustached-trash talking ways, which should make him a fan favourite. A blue collar hustle type scorer without the finessed of players such as Gay, Morrison would probably be a big hit in the right environment.
And finally, going from one of the most discussed players in the draft to one of the least, we turn to Bargnani. The Raps brain-trust is rumored to be favouring the 7-0 foot Euro sensation and is one team (thanks to their overseas experience) which seems to be adequately prepared to select him. Bargnani of course has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki and if you've been watching Dallas in this year's playoffs, that's definitely not a bad thing. However will another big who plays on the perimeter ala Villanueva work for the Raps?
So the conclusion here is simply that while another piece is in place with the lottery coming to a conclusion last night, there are still a lot of questions. We're betting that most mock drafts will have Toronto taking someone different and really, it might not be until David Stern walks to the podium on draft night that we know who the pick will be.
But for now, we're going to enjoy this here at the HQ. It's not every day that your team gets the first pick making them the team everyone will be watching leading up to and on the night of the draft. This is an extremely positive situation on all accounts and it's going to be interesting to see how things unfold over the next four weeks.
Oh...and one last point. How about Rob Babcock after tonight? Even as we watched Colangelo stride up to be congratulated on winning the top pick, we had to think that somewhere, in a damp, dark basement, someone was throwing darts at a sun-kissed and smiling Colangelo photo...