As the NBA and NCAA basketball seasons get underway in just over a month, it’s perhaps time to start looking at potential draft prospects for the Toronto Raptors. With their projected lineup in place, a glaring hole has opened up at the power forward position.
Analysts throughout the industry are tipping the 2014 NBA Draft to be the deepest since 2003, the year that saw LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all drafted in the top five. With that in mind, Raptors’ General Manager Masai Ujiri, is after a superstar.
Who the Raptors draft all depends on how they perform this season. Initial optimism earlier in the summer has slowly declined over recent weeks, and ESPN’s Joe Kaiser expects the Raptors to win just 33 games — one less than last year. He predicts that the Canadian club will have to hurdle Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons, all of which finished below the Raptors a year ago.
Boston Celtic’s offseason moves have left the playoff door wide open for the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee Bucks found themselves in the playoffs last year by mistake, which means a group of around six franchises will be chasing two berths.
Let’s say for instance, the Raptors end up with a top-ten pick. The likelihood is that the Raptors end up without a superstar, with the best available prospects being Dario Saric and Montrezl Harrell.
This pair of nineteen-year-olds would fill the number four gap nicely for coach Dwyane Casey, performing as part of a solid combination alongside Jonas Valanciunas.
However, what Ujiri will be looking for, will belong higher up in the round. Early evaluations suggest a pick inside the top seven will net a star, with the superstars coming inside the top four.
As the season goes on, the draft rankings will likely change multiple times. Come draft day, the wealth of star talent may even stretch to the number ten pick.
The Raptors’ chances of pinning a franchise player will all rest on the first couple months of their schedule. If they start well and push for the playoffs, then a 10-15 pick may be all they can hope for. However, if they start bad and end bad, then who knows, they may even have a certain Andrew Wiggins lining up for them next year.