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Trading Down

Would Lester Hudson be a player the Raps would want to grab by trading down?

Would Lester Hudson be a player the Raps would want to grab by trading down?

In my last article, I examined just how unlikely it would be to see Toronto jump into the lottery or higher in this coming draft. Recently, the New York papers have been buzzing about "TJ Ford for New York’s sixth pick" ideas but it’s still very early to get a read on what each team is thinking.

In fact as evidence of this, after Derrick Rose’s Memphis teammate Joey Dorsey indicated that he knew the Bulls were going to pass on his former running-mate for Michael Beasley, an incensed John Paxon cut off all interviews stating that he had not made a choice at this point in time.

And what about the Raptors?

Well, workouts aside, the official draft process is in full swing thanks to the start of the Orlando pre-draft camp. Do the Raptors have their eye on anyone? No word yet but this year there is some serious talent on display for a change in Florida (mostly due to the depth of this draft class) and Bryan Colangelo and co. will have a number of enticing players to examine.

Are any worthy of the 17th pick?

Probably not. But what if the Raptors don’t see anyone they like at 17? Could the team move down?

I think that’s entirely possible this year, mostly because of the depth of talent prevalent later in the first round and even into the second.

Say for example the Raptors have their sights set on someone like a Chris Douglas-Roberts. But maybe through their own intel realize that he’ll still be around when Seattle picks at 24. Well considering the Sonics have an incredible six selections this year, two in the first round and four in the second, maybe Toronto deals its 17th pick for Seatle’s picks 24 and 32? Would that land a slashing 3 and a banging post-player like Joey Dorsey?

And of course the pick could also be used as an enticement to a team to take on one of the Raptors’ unwanted contracts.

Trying to get rid of Joey Graham?

Hey New Jersey, you have two picks in the first round. How about in exchange for taking Joey, we give you the 17th pick and take pick number 21 from you?

On top of this, there could be a number of permutations to deals like this. And considering the depth of this draft class, and the increased frequency of finding value in the second round, Bryan Colangelo has vast array of options. Just last year for example, players like Carl Landry, Glen Davis, Jermareo Davidson, Dominic McGuire, Aaron Gray, Ramon Sessions and DJ Strawberry, all played significant minutes for their respective clubs. And all were second round picks.

Add in other names like Marc Gasol, Sammy Mejia, and Gabe Pruitt that were stashed overseas or in the D League, and while we’re not talking All-Stars here, these guys are proof that there is plenty of opportunity to find some value late in the draft.

And of course this means lots of choice for Bryan Colangelo, and why it’s not impossible that he sets his sights on some of the players currently playing in Orlando as second round options. Yes, even though Toronto lacks a pick in the second half of the draft, you have to think that teams with multiple picks like Seattle (4 in the second round), Portland (4), Dallas (3), and even Boston and Orlando (both with 2 but neither of whom seem to need projects on their respective rosters) will look to move one or more of their selections.

In fact with all of the options that may present themselves later in the draft, and the amount of talent on display this year, BC might find himself in sort of a draft version of Temptation Island!

I never really got into the whole "reality TV" thing.

I mean, yeah, I got through a season or two of the apprentice.

And I’ll watch Gordon Ramsay chew out some beleaguered sous-chef anytime…

…but American Idol? I think I saw one episode when it first debuted in North America.

And forget Fear Factor, Big Brother, Bachelor/Bachelorette and all the others. I think the only memory I have of Survivor, perhaps the most renowned of the genre, is that of my roommate in University dressing up in a grass skirt and war paint for the finale.

(Yeah…we didn’t live together for that long after that…)

But Temptation Island was a different story. It was perhaps the most ridiculous "reality television" concept of all time representing 45 minutes of pure mindless entertainment.

For those not familiar with the show, which lasted only a few seasons, it essentially involved three or four couples traveling to some paradise island, whereupon they would be separated and then tempted by a bevy of attractive individuals of the opposite sex. There was no real prize involved at the end of the show. There was only the anticipation of whether or not the couples would reunite and continue their romance when all was said and done…or conversely, pair up with one of the "tempters" from the island and end things with their significant others.

I guess "the moral" of the show, if you can say that considering it came from the honchos at Fox TV, was that it was tough for the couples to make correct choices based on the endless amount of temptation in front of them.

Um…Orlando pre-draft camp anyone??

Is the upcoming draft akin to an NBA version of Temptation Island?

Is the upcoming draft akin to an NBA version of Temptation Island?

I think after reading about the talent involved in Orlando this year, and the sheer volume of prospects up for perusal, you have to wonder if Bryan Colangelo and his GM peers aren’t facing the same issues so to speak. It must be quite easy to become enamored with a certain player if he stands out in these type of environments. And then if this happens enough, as it has with certain GM’s in the past, then do you end up with a situation where trading down becomes an even more realistic option as you look to grab more than one potential diamond in the rough?

Does the GM then start to look unknowingly at a situation where he’s taking quantity over quality?

Portland’s draft in 2004 is a great example of this. The team decided to keep all four of its draft picks to help rebuild and chose future All-Stars, Sebastian Telfair, Viktor Khryapa, Sergei Monia and Ha Seung-Jin. Right. Only two years later, all four were either dealt to other clubs, or were out of the league. Until Boston converted a number of its four picks from that same year into KG, it looked to have done the same thing. Albeit the C’s choices developed into better players than Portland’s gruesome quartet, the fact remains that it can become quite easy for GM’s to fall into this "stockpiling for the sake of stockpiling" mentality, and it’s often seen when teams trade down in the draft.

However in Bryan Colangelo’s case this year, I do think there is some merit in moving down a few spots. Toronto is no Boston or Portland in that they only have one pick at present, and simply don’t have the roster space barring a trade to take on three or four new prospects.

But picking up an early second round pick or another late first rounder in exchange for pick 17 makes a lot of sense, especially if the player they are targeting can be had later, as previously discussed. And as evidenced by the team’s play to end the season, they do need help in a number of areas.

Is the draft however the best way of addressing these needs?

Perhaps not, but trading down in a draft like this year’s may be a no-lose situation, considering how similar in talent and "upside" many of the late first round or early first round prospects are. And with that in mind, here are five players I’m hoping get invites to the Raptors pre-draft workouts, and who might represent some potential second round, or late first round options for Toronto:

1) Joey Dorsey – Not much to say about Dorsey that we haven’t already said. He’s a Ben Wallace type bruiser, who is perhaps even more athletic than young Ben in early Detroit days.

2) Lester Hudson – My real sleeper of the draft. I only got to see him play once last season but he’s a hard-nosed scorer ala Rodney Stuckey with a bulldog mentality. If TJ goes, he might be the perfect change-of pace back-up for Jose.

3) Devon Hardin – Another raw big who might be worth taking a flyer on, even after a so-so season at Cal last year.

4) Jason Thompson – Playing in the MAAC he didn’t get the exposure of many other prospects but his game reminds me of Juwan Howard at Michigan and could become a nice role player for a club.

5) Davon Jefferson – Has drawn comparisons to Gerald Wallace and might be one of those raw second rounders who develops into a real gem of a player. Jefferson has apparently showed up to camp in Orlando out of shape and looking ill-prepared but his length and athletic abilities are still quite intriguing.

And even if Toronto doesn’t trade down with their pick, there will be numerous Temptation Island type questions for the Raptors’ brain-trust at 17. For instance, do you decide to take a proven winner like Brandon Rush or are you tempted by the tremendous upside of a Donte Green?

Welcome to Draft Temptation Island, where teams who play it safe lose out (the Raptors with Hoffa), and just as many who look at potential, can themselves back years (Washington with Kwame Brown.)