Complaining about a top-10 draft pick that used to be Andrea freaking Bargnani is a terribly obnoxious thing to do. Even in a weak year for top-tier prospects, plenty of teams would love to be in the Raptors' position. This pick is a bonus; a tasty dollop of whipped cream garnishing a franchise-best season that ended less than four weeks ago.
From a Raptors fan's perspective, though, it's understandable to be a little miffed at where Toronto ended up in the lottery. With just hours to go until the 76ers are officially on the clock, the Raptors are set to pick ninth in a draft widely considered to drop off significantly after the top eight players. The space the Raptors occupy in mock drafts is littered with unsexy options and boom or bust players whose long-term outlooks vary greatly depending on which draft expert you happen to be reading.
None of the guys expected to be around when the Raptors pick can reasonably be expected to contribute to Toronto's urgent 2016-17, in which it will try to replicate this past season's unprecedented success. Trading the pick doesn't seem all that likely either. Rival front offices are surely looking at the number nine slot the same way everybody else is. Masai Ujiri is a masterful trader, but it's tough to sell another general manager on a draft choice you're eagerly looking to offload. Not to mention, the salary cap stress the team is under make it tricky to pair the ninth pick with a player the team is likely open to trading, like Terrence Ross, for example.
Toronto will probably end up closing the book on the Bargnani deal by making a selection at nine and banking the asset. Who that player will ultimately be is much harder to pinpoint.
Over the last couple weeks, the Raptors HQ crew has been previewing some of the players that could get the call to come north. The profiles of said players are all over the map. In the category of "high upside with flame-out potential" are guys like Skal Labissiere, Deyonta Davis and Marquese Chriss -- the latter of whom seems destined for a richer rookie scale deal than being the ninth choice would net him. Swimming next to those guys in the pool of undesirability are slightly safer, but way less-exciting options like Henry Ellenson and Jakob Poeltl. And there are also some names that float somewhere in between those two distinctions, including Domantas Sabonis and Timothé Luwawu.
No one in that collection of potential Raptors moves the needle, especially in year one, but the Raptors will probably select one of them barring a slide down the board by one of the marquee names in the projected top eight.
Our question to you is: Who do you think the Raptors should pick ninth overall?