The last 96 hours in the NBA have been as wild a time as I can remember in the lead up to the Draft, as the Celtics and Sixers have altered their immediate futures by swapping the 1st and 3rd picks, the Nets and Lakers have kinda solved each of their problems with the Russell-Lopez trade, and the Dwight Howard irrelevancy tour moves onto Charlotte.
All of those concrete deals have been dwarfed by the trade rumours circulating about All-Star level players around the league, including DeAndre Jordan, Kristaps Porzingis, and most notably, Paul George.
Always take Amico with a grain of salt, but out of the some of the offers that had trickled out earlier in the week (Randle + pick 27/28 as the best?), Masai Ujiri and co. are extremely well positioned to be aggressive in putting together a package to acquire George and mount one last shot at LeBron in the East, even if it turns out to be a one year rental.
On this site and many others, you’ve seen the highlights and analysis of the guys potentially on the Raptors board at 23, and I’m here to tell you that absolutely none of them are worth keeping the pick if you have a legitimate chance to make a deal for the two-way superstar level player that is Paul George.
Yes, there’s potential you grab a guy who’s definitely got lottery talent but has slipped because of injury concerns like Harry Giles, or lack of exposure due to playing in Serbia like Jonah Bolden. Or you could make the argument that there’s guys like Sterling Brown, Semi Ojeleye, or “Dollar Store Draymond” Jordan Bell, who could seemingly jump into the rotation and contribute right away. And of course there’s the chance the Raptors select TJ Leaf or Tyler Lydon and leave us all with a sour taste in our mouths.
With the roster as its currently constructed, drafting one of these guys to potentially fill the role of a departed Patrick Patterson or P.J. Tucker seems nearsighted, when there’s more than enough in house candidates to step up and fill the roles. Pascal Siakam, Delon Wright, and Jakob Poeltl should each make a jump in development, and if Bruno can’t play at the NBA level now, will he ever be able to?
As Kyle Lowry poaching threats like San Antonio and Houston clear cap space with plans to woo the All-Star point guard into heading south, the Raptors need to take one last big swing before deciding if this core needs to be blown up.
No player in the Eastern Conference has come as close to wrestling the Eastern Conference crown from LeBron James during his run of dominance then George just a few short seasons ago, and a team that could run out Lowry-DeRozan-George immediately vaults to the second best club in the conference, regardless of who the supporting cast ends up being.
With the way the trade winds are swirling, George could seemingly be had for a package of the 23rd pick, Cory Joseph, Norman Powell (put his playoff saviour role aside, and he remains a good, not great, young player) and next year’s 2nd round Lakers or Magic pick (the Raps receive the less favourable selection). I don’t know about you, but in my eyes that’s a steal for a borderline top ten NBA player, even if he chooses to chase his Hollywood dreams after next season. Is it enough? Maybe, maybe not, but the Raptors need to make the call.
So, as the draft inches closer and closer by the minute, don’t be married to the mock, and hope the Raptors take one more swing at de-throning the King.