At some point teams are going to learn not to tank aren’t they?
Or, at least not seemingly put all their eggs in one basket.
Because when Sacramento dealt Brad Miller and John Salmons for tickets to Oprah, you can’t tell me the Maloof troop wasn’t betting on at least bringing Ricky Rubio to Vegas if not Blake Griffin.
Now, even if the Kings don’t move from Sacramento this year, it doesn’t appear they’ll even be bringing Hasheem Thabeet.
Last night’s NBA Draft lottery was a comical affair as Sacramento, the team with the best chance at Griffin, fell to fourth while the Washington Wizards, the team with the second-worst record last year, fell to fifth. The fall of those two clubs was funny enough for Howland, the HQ Associate and myself, all gathered to watch the affair, but seeing the Clippers, arguably the worst franchise in NBA history, win the lottery process rose the unintentional comedy factor even higher. As Clippers president Andy Roeser awkwardly accepted thanks from the gathered crew of GM’s and players, all that seemed to be missing was Will Farrell playing the role of Alex Trebec and Tom Hanks shouting out "South Hampshire!"
Yes, the NBA lottery never fails to entertain does it?
Seemingly year after year, teams like the Grizzlies, Clippers, and Timberwolves trudge out new good luck charms in hopes of changing their clubs’ fortunes; be they current players, alumni, trinkets designed by family members, or something else entirely. In fact the whole process does have some eerie similarities to Saturday Night Live’s take on the classic television game show Jeopardy and its panel of reprobates.
As for the Toronto Raptors?
Well they didn’t fall past nine (something I thought was in the cards) but they didn’t make the leap either. They’ll be picking at nine when all is said and done, a position that I worry won’t allow them to grab one of the players they desperately need. A quick look around the early mock drafts confirms this too.
From ESPN.com, Chad Ford has immediately launched into his first mock draft and has an HQ favourite sitting at nine for the Raptors’ taking. Ford has Tyreke Evans being the Dinos’ selection, something that would sit well with us at the HQ considering we’ve had him sitting third in our prospects watch on our home page since he declared. The problem is, a lot of things have to go right in order for this scenario to unfold.
First and foremost, this "Knicks taking Stephen Curry" rumour has to be bang-on. It’s been floating around for a while now but I’m admittedly skeptical. I’m just not sure I see D’Antoni and co. passing up on players with the upside of Evans. As well, while I do feel that Griffin, Rubio and Thabeet will go in the top 3, after that it’s still wide open and there’s no guarantee a player like Hill or Jennings doesn’t tumble so that prospects like Evans or DeRozan go in the top four or five. As the HQ Associate said last night, "after Blake, Hasheem and Rubio, workouts are going to determine the rest of the order."
I’d have to agree as while GM’s always say that their prior scouting dictates eventual selections, every year one or two players jumps way up on GM wish lists suddenly because of their respective workout performances. Sometimes this is warranted (Russell Westbrook) and sometimes it looks like a poor decision in the end (Joe Alexander.)
This year, two players who look to me like they could make such a jump are Jrue Holiday, and Jonny Flynn. Ford has both three slated for the lottery but even a month ago, neither even looked like they would be declaring let alone be lottery picks. Holiday is especially interesting because for perhaps the top incoming freshman in college ball last year, he was extremely under whelming as a Bruin. However he’s being compared to Rajon Rondo’s situation coming out of Kentucky in that both were extremely talented but were forced to play in a system that did not showcase their strengths.
To me, having these two players and potentially others increase their stock through individual workouts is key for Toronto. Because while Ford has these workout wonders sitting pretty in the lottery, other sites such as Draftexpress.com, have things positioned differently and unfortunately have the likes of DeRozan and Evans gone by the time the Raptors’ are on the clock at nine. I spoke all year of Toronto’s need to get into the top seven or eight to gain an impact player and right now, I’m not holding my breath.
There’s still over a month to go before the draft of course, but based on early returns, I think a lot has to go right for the Raptors in order for a player of Evans, DeRozan or Harden’s talent and potential to fall to them. Of course that doesn’t mean Bryan Colangelo doesn’t have a few tricks up his sleeve and perhaps if there is a player he really covets come draft day, he makes a move up the ladder to get said prospect.
Last night put the first draft pieces in place, now it’s up to BC and co. to arrange them in Toronto’s favour.