The madness ends tonight. With less than two hours until the NBA Draft, things donâ€™t seem any calmer in terms of where players are going to be picked.
From a Raptor fansâ€™ standpoint, Toronto sets the table. Once Colangelo and his new braintrust makes their choice, the dominos will start to fall into place. So what exactly is Colangelo going to do?
We wish we knew for sure.
It seems that everyone has a different idea of who Toronto will or should take. Right now it seems that Bargnani is the slight frontrunner to be chosen over Aldridge, with Rudy Gay being the dark-horse on the outside. Our poll reflects this in terms of Aldridge and Bargnani however Morrison is leading Gay at the third spot.
How do we feel about this? Well as weâ€™ve previously discussed here millions of times, weâ€™d be ok with any of the top choices really as we exercise our â€œfaith in Bryan Colangeloâ€ clause. Who do we really think will be taken when all is said and done? Read on to see our final mock draft belowâ€¦
First though, let's step back for a second. Gazing at the rumours and mock drafts late last night, I was forced to pause and simply ponder in amazement the whirlwind of events that have taken place in Raptorland these past few months. When we suggested it would be a busy summer, I donâ€™t think any of us here thought it would end up in a top pick and two trades already before July! I mean, I'm still pinching myself everytime I see Bryan Colangelo sitting on the sidelines of workouts evaluating our future prospects!
(Sidebar - Seeing the sidelines of the Raptors' workouts is good for a few laughs, just because of differences in dress code. First there's Sam Mitchell in shorts and a golf shirt, looking more relaxed than you'll ever see him. Then Wayne Embry in a t-shirt and jeans (doesn't get more casual than this.) And finally, Bryan Colangelo in a suit jacket and dress pants or dark jeans. It's really the fashion extremes if you think about it.)
Colangelo really has done his due dilligence with this draft however and as we've seen, has brought in all types for pre-draft workouts taking a "leave no stone unturned" approach. Last Friday was the final edition of workouts which saw Pops Mensah Bonsu, a 6-8 Senior forward from George Washington, Walker D. Russell, a 6-0 Senior guard from Jacksonville, Marcus Slaughter, a 6-8 Junior forward from San Diego and CJ Watson, a 6-0 Senior guard from Tennessee, audition at the ACC.
All four are late second round options at best with Bonsu and Slaughter being the most intriguing prospects in my mind. In fact if you asked me prior to the last college season who was the best option of these four I would have said Pops hands-down based on his size and athletic ability. (Plus having Pape and Pops on the same team would have been interesting to say the least.) Bonsu actually came out for last year's draft but withdrew to return to school and perhaps work his way into the late first-round this year. Unfortunately he didn't really develop the other aspects of his game that much and now is in the same situation this year in terms of being drafted. The proof of this lack of development is really in his stats:
In 2004/05 he averaged 12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 1.5 blocks.
Last season? 12.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 0.8 asists and 1.7 blocks.
He also averaged 2.8 fouls, the same as the previous season, which almost makes these numbers scary in that they're so similar.
Slaughter is another player who returned to school after coming out last season. Unfortunately he probably should have returned again this year being only a Junior. Slaughter is a nice college player with good length and athletic ability however is your classic tweener. He played mostly inside at San Diego State but is too lean to be effective at the 4 in the NBA. And questions about his outside shooting and quickness make him a suspect option for the 3. In fact Slaughter is similar to Boston College's Craig Smith in this regard. Both are superior inside scorers and rebounders at the college level who may have trouble getting their games to translate to the next level. I don't see these two or any of the final four workout options coming into play for Toronto in the second round.
After all is said and done, there are still a few players who we would have liked to have seen get ACC invites. Among them, Hassan Adams, Leon Powe, Josh Boone and Mardy Collins however kudos are in order for the job the Raptors did for this year's workouts blending a nice mix of top prospects, potential sleepers, role players and even some Can-Con.
And now...our final mock draft.
Howland: Andrea Bargnani Franchise: Bargnani
Comment: Seems like after all is said and done, the big Italian is the choice. While we disagree here on who we'd LIKE to see taken to a certain degree, it seems now that Bargnani is the final choice.
2. Chicago (via New York):
Howland: Tyrus Thomas Franchise: Brandon Roy
Comment: It's interesting to note that if the Knicks actually had this pick, the draft would be a lot more predictable wouldn't it? We know how Isiah drafts and what his needs are. I think Tyrus Thomas would be Isiah's pick here for sure but with the Bulls, it's not so certain...hence our disagreement.
Howland: Rudy Gay Franchise: Gay
Comment: Jordan likes athletes. Gay is an athlete. Kwame Brown was an athlete...good luck Charlotte...
Howland: LaMarcus Aldridge Franchise: Morrison
Comment: I think this is a tough call here between these two. Logically Aldridge makes more sense maybe from a pure upside standpoint but Portland may just be desperate enough to get the local boy and save their fan base.
5. Atlanta Hawks
Howland: Brandon Roy Franchise: Shelden Williams
Comment: I'm a sucker and going with the rumors regarding the Landlord. He might not be on the board later so the rumoured deal with Houston may now be dead. Howland apparently is a big believer in Deja-vu as Billy Knight takes a combo guard/forward for the 18th draft in a row...or he still thinks the deal is still on.
Howland: Adam Morrison Franchise: Randy Foye
Comment: Minny is sitting pretty in this draft. They let the top five teams fight it out and simply take whoever's left. In Howland's case it's Morrison while in mine it's Foye, who ends up leap-frogging Tyrus Thomas. I just don't see Tyrus being a good fit with KG and co. who need to win sooner rather than later.
7. Boston Celtics
Howland: Randy Foye Franchise: Tyrus Thomas
Comment: Neither of us are convinced that Danny Ainge wants this pick at all so he's going to take the best player left after the top six and look at trades this summer.
8. Houston Rockets
Howland: Shelden Williams Franchise: Aldridge
Comment: Yep, I'm insane to think LaMarcus will fall this far right? Well if Shelden really goes at five, someone's gonna fall further than expected. I don't see Roy falling this far in any event. Howland sees Shelden here based on his pick at 5 with Atlanta and a trade to follow.
9. Golden State Warriors
Howland: Patrick Oâ€™Bryant. Franchise: O'Bryant
Comment: I really have no idea what Golden State is gonna do. Howland thinks the O'Bryant is the choice and I'm not gonna disagree. This is another team, like Boston, who has a ton of pieces that don't fit so will probably take whoever they feel is the best player now, and look to make trades later this summer.
10. Seattle SuperSonics
Howland: Rodney Carney Franchise: Carney
Comment: The Seattle papers are touting Carney and who are we to argue. With so many projects up front as is, we doubt Seattle goes big unless they take an four-year player ala Hilton Armstrong.
11. Orlando Magic
Howland: Ronnie Brewer Franchise: Brewer
Comment: Wow...Howland and I haven't been on the same page about things this much...well...ever! Brewer seems to be a perfect fit here for a currently undersized Orlando back-court.
12. NO/OK Hornets
Howland: Cedric Simmons Franchise: Simmons
Comment: Ok, this has to stop. Both of us think that Simmons could end up being one of the better players from this draft. He's a bit raw, but defensively could help sooner rather than later and is a nice piece beside Chris Paul.
13. Philadelphia 76ers
Howland: Marcus Williams Franchise: Williams
Comment: The caveat to our agreement is that the Answer is on his way out of town. Without Iverson, Philly needs a new point and Marcus is the best of the bunch.
14. Utah Jazz
Howland: J.J. Redick Franchise: Saer Sene
Comment: Finally, things are back to normal. I love Redick but don't think the Jazz take him here. While I think he'd be a great fit, I think Karl Malone and co. are too enamoured with Sene's "upside" to take JJ.
15. Hornets (via Bucks)
Howland: Thabo Sefolosha Franchise: JJ Redick
Comment: Interesting takes here. Howland sees an athletic wing as a need for the Hornets while I see outside shooting. Both are quite plausible options and Redick could be this year's Jameer Nelson and keep falling despite his proven college track record.
16. Chicago Bulls
Howland: Maurice Ager Franchise: Sefolosha
Comment: No agreement here. I think Chicago has enough undersized guards so Thabo is the choice. Howland however thinks that Ager fits some of the Bulls needs not to mention their coach's intensity.
17. Indiana Pacers
Howland: Rajon Rondo Franchise: Rondo
Comment: The Pacers will probably shake things up this offseason and the point guard is one of the "most needed to be shaken-up" areas. Could it be that my favourite player in the draft goes to Indiana two years in a row? (Granger last year.)
18. Washington Wizards
Howland: Saer Sene Franchise: Hilton Armstrong
Comment: Our thought processes are the same on this one. Washington needs another big who can alter shots and help on the defensive end. We'll just have to wait a few more hours to see who it will be.
19. Sacramento Kings
Howland: Olexsiy Pecherov Franchise: Kyle Lowry
Comment: Pecherov has been described as a "Keith Van Horn clone" and I'm not sure that's what the Kings need right now. Lowry would give them a solid backup and another tough defender to fit with their new coach and his system.
20. Knicks (via Nuggets)
Howland: Shawne Williams Franchise: Williams
Comment: This choice has Isiah all over it. Biggest possible bust of the first round perhaps, and also one of the most athletic and intriguing prospects. Good luck in NY Shawne...
21. Suns (via Lakers)
Howland: Shannon Brown Franchise: Sergio Rodriguez
Comment: Different takes here too. Brown makes sense as another athletic player to fit in the Suns run-and-gun system although I feel the Suns main need is a backup for Nash. Rodriguez would be great in this role.
22. Nets (via Clippers)
Howland: Hilton Armstrong Franchise: Alex Johnson
Comment: I don't see Hilton being around this long but if he is, it's the Nets dream scenario. Johson however is being called a "poor man's Kenyon Martin" and if he's still on the board and the Nets keep the pick, I think he goes here.
23. New Jersey Nets
Howland: Jordan Farmar Franchise: Farmar
Comment: Great scenario for New Jersey if it occurs. The Nets needs in this draft are all-around depth, especially at the 1 and 4. These two consecutive picks would give them that.
24. Memphis Grizzlies
Howland: Kyle Lowry Franchise: Shannon Brown
Comment: Lowry would be a great fit here but I'm not sure he'll still be around. The same could be said about Brown too though. Both though would help a depleted Grizz backcourt.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers
Howland: Sergio Rodriguez Franchise: Quincy Douby
Comment: The Cavs would love to nab one of the point guards here but I think most of the top options will be gone. Douby might be able to play both guard spots, especially next to Lebron who controls the offense.
26. L.A. Lakers (via Heat)
Howland: Alexander Johnson Franchise: James White
Comment: Johnson would be a solid fit for the Lakers if he falls this far. I think he'll be gone and like the White rumours. White's size and athletic abilities seem to be a good fit for the Lakers and the triangle.
27. Phoenix Suns
Howland: James White Franchise: Pecherov
Comment: White of course would be a great fit in Phoenix as well and if he's not taken by the Lakers, Howland thinks the Suns, if they keep the pick, will grab him. I think this is where Pecherov goes. He'll give Phoenix some more options in case they can't resign Diaw and/or Tim Thomas.
28. Dallas Mavericks
Howland: Quincy Douby Franchise: Maurice Ager
Comment: We both have the same idea here too...with the late pick the Mavs try and get a scorer who can fill it up and help out Stackhouse.
29. Knicks (via Spurs)
Howland: Josh Boone Franchise: Boone
Comment: We're secretly hoping Boone drops but it would make a lot of sense for the Knicks to take him hear. We're not sure we buy the Diaz rumours and Boone could be eased into Jerome James' spot after he's bought-out...
30. Blazers (via Pistons)
Howland: Guillermo Diaz Franchise: Paul Davis
Comment: Last pick of the first round. Diaz is probably the best player remaining and could be a decent trade chip. For me, Davis is the best big left and if you're going to make a mistake, make it on a big right? Right Hoffa?
Woah. So that concludes the pre-draft discussions for 2005/06. We're off to Harbour Sports Bar to get this thing crackin' so once again feel free to drop by. We're going to run our annual pick-by-pick analysis and draft diary tomorrow around noon when the smoke from tonight clears.
Let's go Raps!