2014 NBA Draft: 5 Players Toronto Raptors Should Target
Toronto Raptors: 5 Targets For the 2014 NBA Draft
The comeback of Toronto basketball has hit its stride, and NBA enthusiasts across the globe are standing at attention. Not only is this franchise on the verge of locking up the Eastern Conference No. 3seed, but the Toronto Raptors are building one of the most entertaining brands of hoops around. To all League Pass subscribers, it's in your best interest to add the Raps to your nightly fix.
As the playoff push nears, so does the draft process, one that has not been kind to fans in the past. For every Terrence Ross, you get remote control-tossing selections of Charlie Villanueva and Joey Graham over the likes of David Lee, Monta Ellis, Danny Granger, Gerald Green and Marcin Gortat.
It's safe to assume that the city has escaped its previous instability with new GM Masai Ujiri in place. The 2014 NBA Draft is next on the exam and all eyes will be watching.
Residents of Toronto, I ask you, are there still drivers of the "should have tanked for Andrew Wiggins" bandwagon out there? I sincerely hope not. Let his arrival happen in due course, if and when it does. Right now, enjoy the fact that nobody wants to see the Raps in Round 1. There will be no Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle or Marcus Smart. However, there is still plenty of value to help fill the 2014-15 ranks.
The following five slides are full of impact players.
5. Mitch McGary PF/C - Michigan Wolverines
Make no mistake, Mitch McGary is ready to contribute at the NBA level. However, with such a propensity for injuries, his basketball IQ would be better served staying one more season in Ann Arbor. When the 6-foot-10, 255-pound sophomore was actually healthy this season, he was elite, averaging 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds in just 24.6 minutes a game. Toronto fans have come to depend on Tyler Hansbrough's military-like persona, well, what do you get when you mix that with the skill-set of David Lee? The potential future of the Raptors' front line.
4. Chris Walker PF - Florida Gators
The No.1 ranked Florida Gators recently got a lot richer as freshman Chris Walker was cleared in late-January to join the already-dominant squad. One of the top power forwards in every recruiter's book now has a chance to improve his fallen draft stock with a positive showing in the Final Four. If Billy Donovan unlocks his handcuffs of playing-time that is. He's a lottery-pick talent who could be had in the second round due to "character issues".
3. Nik Stauskas SG/SF - Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Wolverines' new team leader Nik Stauskas has taken the reigns from NBA breakout rookie Trey Burke. A stat jump from last season in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks is impressive, but it's the climb in both PPG (11.0 to 17.1) and FG% (.463 to .481) that has scouts taking notice.
A rotation of Ross and Stauskas would prove to be lethal, allowing Lowry and Demar Derozan to pound the lane with limited pressure. Toronto might have been previously demanding Wiggins, but kid Canada from Mississauga, Ontario, would suit a Raptors uniform just fine.
2. Elfrid Payton PG - Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
Greivis Vasquez has turned the ball over at the most critical junctures one occasion too many. Don't let his latest mini-run fool you, Greivis Island has become an unwatchable sitcom.
Enter Elfrid Payton, one of the most unheralded point guards in college basketball, the hidden gem of the NCAA who could thrive in the Raptors' system with a run-and-gun mindset combined and a body-sacrificing mentality on defence. Owning back-to-back years of 2.4 SPG, 5.6-plus RPG and 5.5-plus APG, he is scoring 19.5 PPG with 9.1 free-throw attempts per outing.
He is the perfect understudy to Kyle Lowry, and class will soon be in session.
1. Doug McDermott SF - Creighton Bluejays
Talk about putting a team on your back. Doug McDermott has single-handedly brought the Creighton Bluejays to the top 10. Averaging 26.0 PPG (NCAA leader) while no other teammate cracks the 11.2 mark, pulling-down 7.0 boards with zero Bluejays sniffing the 4.0 level, coupled with a FG% of .520, a 3PT% of .441 and a FT% of .887, Creighton can go on a dangerous March Madness run if McDermott ever gets into early foul-trouble.
If the the opportunity of drafting the college senior presents itself, Toronto must pounce. A small forward with an all-around game is a rare commodity.