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In A Perfect World...

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HOWLAND'S PICKS

PICK NUMBER 1

Howland: Adam Morrison. I am sure I am not alone when I say I have been all over the map with this. The size and skill of Aldridge is hard not to like along with his ability to alter shots. However his strength and desire are a concern and now with Rasho I am not sure there are many minutes to go around. Bargnani could be like Dirk, which is an exciting prospect, but he is also a player that in my mind replicates CV Smooth. Tyrus Thomas is a specimen and brings some acrobatics but really lacks a jump shot at this point and is raw. Then there is Morrison. There are concerns about his defense and of course his diabetes but there are just too many positives to ignore. In an era of comparisons (Bargnani vs. Dirk, Foye vs. Wade, Aldridge vs. Bosh) Morrison has been compared to Larry Bird, and not simply because of the colour of his skin. Morrison has developped a sick multi-faceted offensive game, he shoots a high percentage even from long-distance, and is simply just a baller.

The other thing about Morrison is that he is uber competitive. Remember those days when our star player would attend graduations prior to game 7, would laugh off missing game winning shots and just simply didn't have the testicular fortitude to step up? Morrison is the complete opposite. In fact I am already comfortable right now, before even playing 1 minute of NBA ball, with letting Morrison take this seasons last second shots.

Now there is no question that Morrison is going to take his lumps, in particular on the defensive end, but he is such a competitor and such a smart player that he will find a way to cover-up his weaknesses, and quickly. The concerns about his offense being stymied at the next level? I don't buy it. Not that I expect him to fill it up and be the primary offensive weapon on this team, we have our one-two punch in CV Smooth and Bosh, but he would be a SUPERB third option. The icing on the cake here is that he will play whatever roll you tell him to and is a team player. He would also quickly replace the hole in the hearts of many Raptors fans created when Bonner was sent south. (Although I must say I am happy Bonner and his TERRIBLE defense have been sent packing. The guy rotated slower than a square wheel.)

I am not opposed to a few of the other top guys but he's my pick.

PICK NUMBER 35

Howland: Jose Juan Barrea. Lately Franchise and I have been discussing the possibility that Roko Ukic maybe more ready to come over and contribute sooner than most people think, and that if Colangelo does not address the PG needs by way of trade, likely at the draft, then this may very well be the case. The free-agent list is WEAK so once the draft is over the writing may be on the wall and Ukic Raptor jersey's may be for sale shortly.

Regardless of how this need is addressed, it would appear that Calderon is the #2, and not a bad one at that. I am however, a proponent of having three PG's on the roster. Sure Andre Barrett has an invite to camp but I am not a fan and feel like the second round this year provides a great opportunity to bring in another good PG. Guys that may be available include Mardy Collins, Dee Brown and possibly even Daniel Gibson. I would take Barea however. Although small in stature he has all the skills. Not as athletic as a Nate Robinson but better with the basketball and a knack for getting others involved. You couldn't even get a roll of "dimes" out of the combined number of passes Nate attempted last year. Barea is a senior and has grown as a player every year, does not shy away from contact and in reality will not be asked to play more than 8-10 minutes of quality ball a night. His shot is a little suspect but that is generally the case for most guards taken late. He is streaky but can make the smart pass, the major concern is that most reports on him say he can overdribble. That would drive me nuts if he were to continue that trend in the pros considering the talent he will have around him. At the end of the day though he is a risk worth taking and also fits into the "international" thing that Colangelo is into these days as he plays for the Puerto Rican national team.

PICK NUMBER 56

Howland: Solomon Jones. There may be a few interesting bigs available at 56 this year, Taj Gray, Ryan Hollins and Leon Powe but if Jones is on the board you have to go with him. We are still missing a true blue shot blocker, a guy that is surprisingly quick off his feet. Like many young shot blockers he can leave his feet too early at times and get into foul trouble but again there are simply not enough minutes for that to really be a concern. Not a banger by any stretch of the imagination he does however do the dirty work. Due to his lack of offensive skill he get's most of his points in the garbage like fashion.

Jones would bring some skill sets to the Raps that they are currently missing, in particular the shot blocking ability and his defense. A really solid defensive big man is an asset this team could use, someone that works well within the team concept and is happy to do his thing on the defensive end and then not pout when he doesn't see the rock on the other end of the court. It would be great to have this guys right and send him to the D League right off the bat to simply continue to develop his offensive game and increase the level of his competition on an incremental basis...he did go to South Florida...how many of those games have you seen?!

FRANCHISE'S PICKS

PICK NUMBER 1

Franchise: Tyrus Thomas. Like Howland, I've changed my mind on the top pick a gazillion times. I like Morrison for the exact reasons Howland mentioned above. Aldridge and Bargnani also intrigue me for obvious reasons. And even Rudy Gay and Brandon Roy have serious aspects of their game that bare consideration at top of the pops. However if I had Colangelo's keys to the ride at this point, I would draft Thomas. Sure he's quite raw, but after watching him this past NCAA season and then in the playoffs single-handedly beat my Blue Devils, I just feel that he is the best prospect of the bunch. Toronto needs more game-changing players and I really think that Thomas could be one of these down the road. His combination of defence, shot-blocking and intensity are unparalleled in this year's draft and are all things Toronto badly needs. Having said this, my gut feeling right now is that Morrison is Colangelo's choice but if it were me, I'd be calling the LSU forward's name on Wednesday evening.

PICK NUMBER 35

Franchise: Toronto could go a number of ways with this pick too. Assuming players like Daniel Gibson, Mardy Collins, Jordan Farmar, James White and Josh Boone are all gone by the time Toronto picks, I too would take Barea. Of all the remaining prospects Barea just fills a need for Toronto and is an experienced player unlike many of the remaining second-round "projects." He's also a real Sam Mitchell type competitor and more of a pass-first player than many of the other point guards, including the first round prospects. My gut feeling though for this pick is Josh Boone. I'm not sold on a "Knicks promise" in the first round and think he could easily fall to Toronto at this spot. So could Mardy Collins who just isn't a "workout type" player. Either one would be a steal considering their skill-sets and that both were projected mid first-round picks at points last season.

PICK NUMBER 56

Franchise: This final pick really depends on what occurs earlier in the draft in my opinion. If the top pick yields a 2/3 like Morrison or Gay and Toronto takes a point guard at 35, than they have to go big on this pick. Numerous interesting "big" projects like Solomon Jones, Ryan Hollins and Justin William will probably be around at this spot so one of these may be the choice. However in my ideal situation, with a SF/PF in Tyrus Thomas, and a PG in Barea already selected, Bobby Jones would be pick 56. Jones has what it takes to be a great defender in this league and could back-up either the 2 or 3 and perhaps even 4 in some situations. He doesn't have much of an offensive game, but neither does Bruce Bowen and both players have similar physical abilities. Gut feeling though on this choice - Denham Brown. If Brown is still on the board at 56, (which might not be likely due to his recent buzz) I think Colangelo gives him the automatic camp invite with this pick.

The third member of our HQ team, Jeff Chapman, is currently in Cuba doing some "luxury resort scouting" but emailed us his ideal choices for all three picks.

At 1 he's leaning in another direction than us and going with La Marcus Aldridge. Chapman believes he WOULD be able to play with Bosh in the frontcourt and is the best talent available.

At 35 Chapman's first choice would be my 56 in Bobby Jones. He'd also consider Daniel Gibson and Hassan Adams at this spot.

At 56 - Leon Powe. Powe could be a steal at this spot as skill-wise he's a late-first round prospect. The worry with Powe is that he's a bit undersized and that he's lost some of his athletic ability due to injuries two seasons ago. If he can show that he's regained his explosiveness, he'd be a great fit for Toronto.

Rumour Update - Recent trade rumors still have Toronto linked to teams such as Seattle for draft-day deals but perhaps the most intriguing rumour we've seen lately has involved free-agent Mike James. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Saturday that Toronto may be trying to deal soon-to-be free-agent guard to Dallas in a package deal which would net them Marquis Daniels. I don't know about you, but any deal where Toronto would get a player of Daniels' ability back for Mike James is something I'd take a keen interest in.

Workout update - Finally, it seems that the workouts are not yet done. On Wednesday Pops-Mensa Bonsu, Walker D. Russell, Marcus Slaughter and CJ Watson will be apearing for a last-second workout prior to that evening's draft. There are also rumours that Tyrus Thomas and Brandon Roy may still show up today or tomorrow...