Late last week I updated our poll question to see what key attribute readers thought the Raptors should be looking for in this upcoming draft.
The early returns have "slashing ability" out ahead of the others, my own personal vote, and after watching the first five games of the NBA conference finals, I’m not sure there’s another option frankly.
Let me ask you this – what trait do all four of the remaining playoff teams have in common? Yes, all have a big man who at times can dominate based on his physique or skill-set, and all (even Denver now) play defense at a fairly high level.
However there’s something else that has struck me smack in the face.
Each team has a dominant scorer who can get to the rim and with the game on the line, it’s always that player that decides his team’s fate.
Maybe the former is no surprise but think about the latter for a second.
The Cavs have been living and dying with Lebron James’ ability to make clutch shots with the clock winding down.
Last night Kobe Bryant took control in the game’s final minutes to ensure that LA would go up 2-1 in the series. The Lakers only loss has come when Los Angeles elected to have Fisher, not Bryant, make his team’s final play.
And Denver, well Carmello Anthony had been huge up to last night, and even Chauncey Billups has proven able to deliver in the clutch.
In fact each of the first five games of the conference finals has been so close that essentially, you could not watch the first three quarters, tune in for the final two minutes of the fourth, and then see the game in a nutshell, when respective coaches are putting the ball in the hands of their slasher and saying "go to work."
This is today’s NBA.
With the way the game is called, even dominant inside forces like Nene and Dwight Howard aren’t given a shot as a first option in these situations. In Orlando’s case, Hedo Turkoglu is hardly Kobe Bryant, but again, this is a player with the ability to create off the bounce, and use his size to get to the rim. Sometimes it ain’t pretty, but it’s the best option the Magic usually have.
It’s been well documented of course that Toronto lacks said "shot creator" and needs to find such a player this offseason; either via the draft, or free-agency. These players don’t just fall off trees off course but there are some options available to the Raptors this year, and possibly for a reasonable price.
BC obviously has other needs to address as well so it will be interesting to see how he decides to allocate his limited resources.
But hopefully he’s been watching the playoffs closely and is drawing similar conclusions.