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Behold the Intra-squad Raptors All-Star Draft 2018 Spectacular

The 2018 NBA All-Stars have been selected (in secret), so let’s do a very public draft for a Raptors-only squad.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

Despite the NBA’s silly decision not to broadcast the selection process for the 2018 All-Star teams, it is indeed a fun concept. Get 24 players together, assign two captains, and then go nuts picking who is going where. Does LeBron James take Kyrie Irving with his first pick? How about Steph Curry, should he take James Harden or Russell Westbrook?

And, most importantly, who will get picked last?

We have most of those answers now, but in truth, we’ll never quite know how it all went down. (Assuming it does actually go down, and isn’t like the moon landing hoax — just kidding!) We now have two teams ready to go on February 18th in the All-Star Game, and that’s what really matters.

Well, that and now we’re going to do the same exact thing for these Toronto Raptors. That’s right, let’s take the full 16-man roster (14 full-timers plus two 2-way contract players) and split them down the middle — two rosters of eight, picked back-and-forth. We’re drafting to make the best, most entertaining squads imaginable, while providing a little explanation as to our reasoning. (You won’t get that from the normal All-Star Draft.)

How will things work out? Who goes first? Last? (Will Bruno Caboclo even get to be involved?) Mysteries abound! I’m joined now by our man Jay Rosales, the originator of this idea, to make the first pick.

Take it away, Jay...

Pick No. 1: DeMar DeRozan

If you had told me before the season started that by the midway point, the Raptors’ best player would lead the team in Win Shares, Steals, and PER, I’d probably first wonder why you cherry-picked those stats. I also would not have guessed Compton’s finest, Mr. DeRozan. He’s truly answered the call this season, leading the charge for #TeamCultureChange by averaging career-highs in 3pt, 3pt%, 2pt%, rebounds, assists, eFG%, TS%, and Win Shares/48, all while playing in his lowest minutes per game since his rookie season. Did I miss anything?

Pick No. 2: Kyle Lowry

Fine. If you’re going to take the Raptors’ scoring leader and the man with the fanciest footwork in the NBA, I’ll have to satisfy myself with — ahem — Kyle freakin’ Lowry. Did you know Lowry is one of three players in the league averaging over 17, 6, and 6? It’s true, and, uh, need I say more?

Pick No. 3: Delon Wright

Those are some nice figures, but the Raps have another outstanding point guard, and he is closing in on hollowed ground. Delon Wright is a few percentage points away from joining the elusive 50/40/90 club (48.6/37.7/90.8). He’s a menace on defense, looming larger (6’5”) than your average PG, and a Euro-stepping savant on offense — especially in the pick-and-roll. Wright also ranks first in and-one frequency and second in FT frequency. He leads the charge for the NBA’s 3rd-best bench unit and will be called upon more post-All-Star as the Raps get ready for another deep playoff run.

Pick No. 4: OG Anunoby

Yeah, sure, but can Delon Wright incite coach riots with his dunks?

Because OG certainly can.

Pick No. 5: Serge Ibaka

I see your 2019 Kawhi and raise you 2014 Serge Ibaka. Oh, that’s not how this works? That’s fine because Ibaka will fit in quite nicely on my squad. He’ll clear the lane for DeRozan drives, provide weakside help for anyone lucky enough to get by Wright, and spot up for mid-range buckets. Ibaka’s among the league leaders in FG% for shots in the paint (non-restricted area). Is this the part where we start drafting frontcourt guys?

Pick No. 6: Pascal Siakam

It sure is! And with that, let me say: there’s fast, there’s very fast, and then there’s Pascal Siakam. Look, I’ll give it you straight here, Jay. We know Siakam’s not much of a shooter, but when he’s running the floor it is simply breathtaking to watch. Toss in Pascal’s underrated ability to make nifty little passes in traffic, and his (sometimes foolhardy) creativity with the ball, and we’ve got a live-wire All-Star act ready to go.

Pick No. 7: Jakob Poeltl

If live-wire act is what you’re going for, then looking no further than the Austrian Hammer.

For the statheads, Poeltl Power ranks 4th in the NBA in eFG%, 7th in TS%, 10th in Offensive Rebound %, t-4th in Contested Twos/36, and 7th in Contested Shots/36. He’s answered any doubters who questioned why he was drafted when the team already had an established centre.

Pick No. 8: Jonas Valanciunas

I’ll take your fleet-of-foot centre, and raise you a big goofy one who is currently playing some of the best basketball of his life, upping his prop comedy game, and actually making a go of shooting threes. Yes, we’ve arrived: Jonas Valanciunas is now an entertaining player on the Raptors. His 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game averages aren’t exactly All-Star calibre number (though they aren’t far off from his trainer Jamaal Magloire’s when he made the ASG), but Valanciunas is fun now. Also, I don’t want to get the JVHive after me.

Pick No. 9: C.J. Miles

I need a shooter to round out my starting five. Despite the mixed results so far, keep in mind that Miles has missed games for several reasons — illness, sore left shoulder, dental work. Throw in the birth of his first child and getting acclimated with a new team that’s going through its own culture change, I’m willing to cut him some slack. Miles is averaging a career-high in three-pointers made (2.4/game), while other shooting percentages (3pt, eFG, FT) are above his career averages.

Pick No. 10: Lucas Nogueira

Having a shooter sounds cool, but why not double-down at centre? That’s my move. And if you were to ask Bebe if he could shoot, I’m willing to bet he’d tell you: yes, of course. Nogueira’s had a mostly quiet season with the Raptors this year, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t finish some amazing alley-oops, set up some wild plays with his passing, block a shot or two, and then laugh, smile, and hug everyone afterwards. What a guy!

Pick No. 11: Fred VanVleet

Have I mentioned yet how much I’m loving my squad? Steady Freddy has been a revelation this season. He’s among the league leaders in Defensive Rating and Net Rating. On the other end, VanVleet ranks 3rd among bench players this month in 3pt FG% (at least two 3ptm/game). He’s classified as our third-string PG, but he leads all Raptor bench players in Plus/Minus. Alright, I’m done with the stat drop. Two more picks from a mic drop!

Pick No. 12: Norman Powell

I will admit, this trade-off here feels like a step down now. Who would have thought we’d be saying that about FVV and Norm in January 2018? Still, though Powell hasn’t quite been himself this year — we don’t need to get into it — he can still dunk the holy hell out of the ball. That has to count for something right?

Pick No. 13: Bruno Caboclo

Every October when I start prepping for Fantasy Basketball season, one of my favourite stats in searching for fantasy gems is the 1.5/1.5 player. That’s 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Whether it be Josh Smith or, more recently, Draymond Green, fantasy glory normally followed. Bruno is the only player in the G League currently averaging 1.5/1.5. He is supposed to be one year away, but he’s leading the charge for the defending G League champs, and the future’s never looked closer.

Pick No. 14: Lorenzo Brown

Have you seen Lorenzo Brown in the G League? The man is a human triple-double machine. He often plays with much trepidation with the Raptors, and to be honest, that’s fine. But under the auspices of the anything goes All-Star game, we’d have to assume he’d cut loose. Watch the opening seconds of this clip — a one handed alley-oop pass on the move from the logo? Hello!

Pick No. 15: Alfonzo McKinnie

Maybe it’s because he’s a small forward who averages more than eight rebounds a game. Maybe it’s because he’s had a DeRozan-esque rise in 3pt attempts and 3pt FG%. Maybe it’s because he’s apparently the Vince-Carter-Team-USA version of Team USA’s 3-on-3 team. Put me down as a McKinnie fan. He can fly of my squad’s bench any day.

Pick No. 16: Malcolm Miller

Oof, my guy Big Mac gets the ignoble distinction of last pick. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Since Miller is still finding his way in the G League after an injury-induced layoff, it’s not a surprise to see him at no. 16. Maybe we’ve just given him a chip on his shoulder? Here’s hoping.

********

There you have it. The full rosters are:

Team Jay

DeMar DeRozan

Delon Wright

Serge Ibaka

Jakob Poeltl

C.J. Miles

Fred VanVleet

Bruno Caboclo

Alfonzo McKinnie

Team Daniel

Kyle Lowry

OG Anunoby

Pascal Siakam

Jonas Valanciunas

Lucas Nogueira

Norman Powell

Lorenzo Brown

Malcolm Miller

So, now we ask: which team is better? Who would win? Who would put on a better show? Just close your eyes and dream on it. And let us know in the comments.