With the NBA’s draft lottery taking place at 8 PM EST tonight, the Toronto Raptors will be looking to the lottery Gods in order to vault up into one of the top 3 spots.
It happened in 1996 of course when Toronto grabbed Andrea Bargnani after having only an 8.8 per cent chance of winning it all, however this year the odds look much more insurmountable.
The Raptors have less than a 2.5 per cent chance of getting into the top 3 spots (1.7, 2.0 and 2.4 per cent respectively) and as the Arsenalist from Raptors Republic points out:
"only four times (in lottery history) has a team which is slotted to select 9th or lower actually advanced into the top three…a failure rate of 83%."
That should tell you all you need to know about tonight and I expect when all is said and done that Toronto will be picking from the nine spot.
Stranger things have happened of course, the Bulls jumped to the very top last year to nab Derrick Rose while having the ninth-worst record, but statistically, I’m not getting my hopes up. Instead, I think tonight is extremely important for Colangelo and co. so they can start to piece other teams’ situations together.
For instance, say the Knicks land the top pick? Does that suddenly make David Lee expendable? Or should a team like Golden State land in the top 3, does their glut of swingmen suddenly become even more available via trade? Maybe they’re willing to move from that spot if Griffin and Rubio are gone and Toronto covets someone like James Harden? If the Jay Triano hiring was the first proverbial domino to fall, getting the draft order set tonight is that second tile.
If Toronto does hear its name called at nine, then fans can start up the party-wagon as after the top 3 selections are made, the draft proceeds in the inverse order of the way teams finished in last year’s standings. Therefore Toronto can’t pick from 4 to 8. They can however pick lower than nine, which in my opinion, wouldn’t be the end of the world either. My fear is that a number of the names that would make the most sense for the Dinos at 9 will be long gone by then so in a draft with a very similar talent base after the top few picks, perhaps grabbing more of a proven winner at say 11 or 12 would be better.
In fact, the argument could be make that picking from a lower spot makes more sense as the financial commitments to that player would be less, and considering that this draft hardly looks like one in which Toronto is going to be able to grab a superstar, this leaves more money to go after some serious help via free agency.
Or conversely, with the state of the NBA economy, maybe a lower pick gives Toronto some more loot with which to purchase a second first-round pick from a team that’s struggling financially. Teams that fit this mould include Sacramento at 23 and Memphis at 27.
And is a club like the Cavs or Lakers really going to want their 29th or 30th selection? Picks like these might be in play as well.
Things kick off at 8:30 PM EST tonight on The Score and we’ll be in full discussion mode post-lottery. Toronto obviously has numerous needs that need to be addressed this off-season so nailing down the spot they’ll be picking from is step 1 in this process. Step 2 is making the actual pick and certainly there will be much rumour and innuendo before next month’s actual draft.
It would admittedly be nice though if much of that dialogue centers on what the Raptors will do with the top overall pick, but for now I’ll just take some solace in watching the team with the worst overall record (Sacramento) again fail to land the top spot.