Happy Draft Day everyone!
It seems like we've been building towards this day for a very long time this year and the day is finally upon us. The Toronto Raptors of course have the eighth pick in tonight's selection process, and with about 12 hours to go, are still connected to a litany of names.
Austin Rivers was the prevailing favourite yesterday, being slotted to the Dinos by both Draftexpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com. The logic was that Toronto's top three options, Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard and Dion Waiters were off the board, leaving Rivers as the next best option for TO.
I don't have to tell you how much I loathe this choice as I touched on it yesterday, and will do so in more detail this afternoon. Essentially though, of most of the 10 or more options at 8, Rivers would be the last name I'd choose.
That was yesterday of course and in the world of NBA draft speculation, 24 hours can seem like an eternity.
Today's favourite may be UNC forward Harrison Barnes.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford has Barnes, falling to the Toronto Raptors in his latest mock draft, something that should have most Raptors' fans dancing on the ceiling. (Not to mention Bryan Colangelo.)
While I'm not a huge Barnes fan and would prefer names like Lillard and Waiters, there's no question I'd prefer him to Rivers. Ford's logic here is that Lillard and Waiters are snatched up at the 6 and 7 spots, and with Andre Drummond going to the Kings at 5, it's paved the way for Barnes' slide.
Drummond though is the key tonight.
Much like the NBA draft lottery, where as a fan you're watching the envelopes open to see if one of the lower ranked teams' logo doesn't pop out where it's supposed to, indicating a move into the top three, hearing Drummond's name called in the first seven picks is huge for TO.
With the top four picks almost guaranteed to be Anthony Davis and then some order of Thomas Robinson, Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, that leaves three spots for the three players on Bryan Colangelo's wish list (Barnes, Lillard and Waiters) to fall prior to his own team drafting. If one of those spots is filled by Mr. Drummond, that means one of the "wishlist three" will be available for TO.
Trades of course could throw a wrench into things, but as of now, it's all about Drummond. There doesn't seem to be another prospect (say a Rivers or Jeremy Lamb) that threatens to be picked in that top seven so where Drummond gets picked should dictate Toronto's course of action.
Of course if Barnes, Lillard and Waiters DO get picked before Toronto is on the board, then, as we noted yesterday, the Raps will have a very difficult decision to make.
Do they take Drummond due to his upside and trade value?
Do they take Rivers or Lamb, both players I'm guessing are in their next tier outside of the "wishlist three?"
Or do they choose a dark-horse, someone out of left field that they've been shielding from draft insiders?
It seems like we'll get a better idea which way the team is leaning as the day unfolds...