5 Worst Draft Picks in Toronto Raptors’ History
The 5 Worst Draft Picks in Toronto Raptors' History
There's no question that the Raptors have made some noise on selections during their existence. Tracy McGrady, Damon Stoudamire, and Antawn Jamison (later swapped for Vince Carter) immediately come to mind. Yet, equally as true is the fact that the Raptors have made even more horrendously awful selections.
Championship contributing role players, perennial All-Stars, and future Hall of Famers have all been passed up on for some big time scrubs during the dino's time. The ramifications on the franchise have been devastating as any steps forward the franchise may have made during certain periods of time were immediately retracted by these head scratching moves.
All too often this has led to key players leaving the franchise, distraught , confused, and frustrated with the managerial moves (see Carter era). Add the seemingly endless rebuilding phases that ensue from these events and it's reasonable to now know why Raptor nation can barely keep both eyes open during the drafts anymore.
In reviewing the Raptors' draft history, it appears as though only the Charlotte Bobcats can rival the dinos in terms of botched draft day selections. With Michael Jordan, the man infamously responsible for Kwame Brown going 1st overall in 2001, at the helm in Charlotte, Raptor fans can rest easy in knowing that the silver medal in draft day debacles will be theirs for the foreseeable future.
Here's a closer look at the top 5 worst draft picks in Raptors' history.
5. Raptors select Andrea Bargnani 1st overall (2006)
In 2006, Bryan Colangelo boldly drafted 7-foot shooting big man Andrea Bargnani with the No. 1 overall selection. Colangelo had high hopes for the Italian import as he envisioned Bargnani becoming a franchise changing player for the Raptors and mimicking the career path of the last great shooting big man, Dirk Nowitzki. Bargnani certainly never panned out to be that type of player during his tenure with the Raps. Yet, Bargnani still would go on to put up some numbers with the Raptors.
In seven seasons with the Raptors, Bargnani averaged 15.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.3 APG and 0.9 BPG, respectively. Those aren't bad numbers by any means. Yet, at the same time they certainly can't justify a first overall selection especially considering the 4.9 RPG and 0.9 BPG averages for a seven-footer. During Bargnani's tenure with the Raptors, he was constantly criticized as being lethargic, unmotivated, and soft. The fan base increasingly grew tired with Bargnani's affinity to jack up jump shots instead of taking it to the basket at such a large frame. Yet, Bargnani isn't necessarily a bad player. He is talented. He can score, and he is a matchup nightmare for many opposing centers in the league. Bargnani has put up some decent numbers so far in the league. But after seven seasons with the Raptors, it's clear that Bargnani wasn't worthy of the first overall selection as the Raptors never made any progress towards the playoffs under Bargnani's lead. Simply put, Bargnani is a solid role player on a contending team, but he is nowhere close to a first overall selection.
The pick of Bargnani became increasingly more scrutinized as the years went along and his fellow draft class peers, such as: Lamarcus Aldrige, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Roy and Paul Millsap would all blossom into league All-Stars.
4. Raptors select Joey Graham 16th overall (2005)
In the package for Carter, then General Manager, Rob Babcock received two first round picks amongst other items. Babcock then turned his highest draft pick into Oklahoma State University small forward Joey Graham with the No. 16 overall selection. Graham certainly looked the part coming out of college. At 6-foot-7 and 225-pounds, Graham possessed an NBA ready body from day one. Graham also put up some solid numbers in his senior season at OKSTATE, including 17.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 2.0 APG while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 47.3 percent from three. Unfortunately for Graham, because he was the byproduct of the Carter deal, a lot of expectations and hopes were vested within him (especially after Alonzo Mourning refused to show up to Toronto following the deal).
Graham quickly turned out to be yet another bust for the Raptors. Although hard working, Graham could never translate his college success to the professional game. In Graham's four seasons with the Raptors he averaged 6.4PPG and 3.1RPG. Graham has now been out of the league since the 2010-11 season as offers quickly dried up. That's not exactly what Raptor nation were hoping for from the guy who was suppose to be the centerpiece of the Carter deal. To make matters worse, by selecting Graham, Babcock passed up on future All-Stars Danny Granger and David Lee. Other solid and seasoned pros such as Nate Robinson, Monta Ellis (who should become an All-Star this season), Jarrett Jack, Jason Maxiell, Andray Blatche, and Louis Williams were all passed on as well. Imagine Chris Bosh paired with Granger or Ellis. It would have made for a dynamic 1-2 punch in T.O for some years.
3. Raptors select Aleksandra Radojevic 12th overall (1999)
In the 1999 Draft the Raptors selected Aleksandra Radojevic out of Barton County Community College. At a mammoth 7-foot-3, Radojevic was meant to be the defensive anchor that the Raptors had lacked since the trade of Marcus Camby just a couple of seasons prior. Then GM Glen Grunwald did a lot of good for the Raptor franchise, but this selection was a whole lot of bad, like really bad.
Radojevic would suit up for all of three games before his rookie campaign would end due to a season ending injury. In those three games, Radojevic put up 2.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG on 28.6 percent shooting. Radojevic would never suit up again for the franchise as he was unable to overcome his chronic injuries, eventually opting to play in Europe. The 12th pick gave the Raptors three games. Let that sink in. Three games. Radojevic resurfaced in the 2004-05 season with the Utah Jazz for 12 games, averaging 1.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG in 10.7 minutes per game. He hasn't been seen in the league since.
Although not a particularly star heavy draft class, Grunwald's mistake cost him a number of solid veterans in the process. In selecting for Radojevic, Grunwald missed out on the likes of Corey Maggette, Metta World Peace, James Posey, and Andrei Kirilenko. Maggette was selected 13th by the then Seattle Sonics. Maggette would go on to become a steady scorer in the league, averaging 16 PPG and 4.9 RPG for his career. Metta World Peace would go on to become one of the premier wing defenders in the league, as would Kirilenko. Posey would also have himself a solid career as he was an integral part of the championship success the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat experienced, respectively. Pairing any of these players alongside the youthful duo of McGrady and Carter would have been quite a scene for Raptor fans. Oh well.
2. Raptors select Michael Bradley 17th overall (2001)
In the 2001 draft, the Raptors selected Michael Bradley with the 17th overall selection. Don't feel bad Raptor Nation if you can't quite seem to recall Bradley. He appeared in only 98 contests with the dinos in the three seasons he was with the franchise. During that time, Bradley averaged 3.8 PPG and 4.5 RPG while playing 15 minutes per contest. It was actually quite surprising that Bradley didn't have any sort of NBA success as he dominated in his junior season at the renowned University of Villanova basketball program, averaging 20.8 PPG and 9.8 RPG.
In dropping the ball on the Bradley selection, Grunwald once again missed out on some serious talent. Tony Parker, Zach Randolph, Gilbert Arenas, Gerald Wallace, and Memhet Okur all would be selected after Bradley -- all would become eventual All-Stars in the league. Bradley was out of the league after eight seasons. Seriously, imagine if the Raptors had gotten this selection right. Raptor Nation could have been looking at a Parker, Carter, McGrady trio, or an Arenas, Carter, McGrady trio. If not that, then at the very least they could have had Z-Bo and Antonio Davis carving up space down low while still retaining Carter and McGrady on the wings.
The Bradley selection has to be a ahead of the Radojevic botch job just because of the sheer talent that was missed out on in this draft. The Radojevic draft class featured solid veterans, whereas this draft class featured future perennial All-Stars. The entire course of the Raptor franchise could have conceivably been altered had Parker, Arenas or Randolph come to town.
1. Raptors select Rafael Araujo 7th overall (2004)
His name sends a shudder down the spine of all loyal Raptor fans:Rafael Araujo (gasp) . Araujo's selection in the 2004 draft may have been the straw that broke the franchise's back. Araujo would play two seasons with the dinos averaging 2.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG on 40.3 percent shooting. He would then go to play with the Jazz the following season, averaging similar numbers and never returning to the league afterwards.
The Araujo selection isn't the worst pick in Raptors history because of the numbers he put up, which resemble Radojevic's and Bradley's mediocrity. Rather the Araujo pick is the worst pick because of the context of his selection. During this time, it was well known in Raptorland that Carter was openly questioning the franchise's direction. Carter wanted mentor and childhood hero Julius Erving to be brought in as the next GM for the franchise. Instead, the unheralded Babcock was brought in to revive the franchise. Any tiny bit of trust that Carter had left in the franchise was quickly shattered with this butchered selection. In selecting Araujo, Babcock essentially destroyed the franchise's fortune for years. One of the premier stars in the entire league was gone because of Babcock's ineptitude and in return the Raptors received essentially nothing. Check that, the Raptors received yet another draft bust and some more rebuilding. The franchise has never been close to recapturing the glory that Carter once brought them so this selection sticks out in particular. Of course, it didn't make Raptor fans feel any better when Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, J.R Smith, Jameer Nelson, Kevin Martin, and Anderson Varejao were all selected following Araujo, but I'll stop for the sake of Raptor Nation.