Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Previewing the 2010 NBA Draft

Bryan Colangelo is preparing to embark on the most important off-season of his career. With Chris Bosh set to become a free agent in just 9 days, Colangelo must do whatever he can do keep his franchise player in Toronto and keep the Raptors relevant in an ever-so increasing NBA market. However, thanks to media reports and speculation, experts believe Chris Bosh will leave Toronto in a sign and trade deal. On the contrary, fans like myself are trying to be as optimistic as possible and pray every night that Bosh stays in Toronto. As far as I'm concerned, these media reports are nothing more then rumors, and Chris Bosh is the only person who truly knows what he'll do in free agency. Although I'm only 16 years old, Chris Bosh is someone who I've looked up to since he was drafted in 2003. It's going to be an extremely hard pill to sallow if Bosh leaves, and it's going to even harder to watch the Raptors fail next season without their all-star. These past three years have been stressful for me, because as a Raptors fan, it's disappointing to see my team underachieve year after year. Needless to say, this upcoming summer will determine Chris Bosh's fate. As of right now, Bosh will leave Toronto for another team--back when Bosh was giving his season ending press conference, he admitted changes need to be made in order for him to stay in Toronto. Unfortunately, as a fan, all I can do is sit back and wait for the pieces to fall in place. I can't dictate what Bosh and/or Colangelo do in the coming weeks, and I certainly can't control where other free agents sign.

The Raptors' off-season officially starts on Thursday, where the team will have the 13th pick in the NBA Draft. For fans of the NBA like myself, the NBA Draft is one of the biggest, most important days of the year. It's the first step in a very long off-season, and is a great opportunity for teams to improve or build their roster at an inexpensive cost. Granted, the 13th pick won't sway Bosh one way or the other, but it's the first step in a series of (hopefully) many more steps.

I've always been a believer that the Raptors should trade the pick for a veteran. In my opinion, adding a veteran would be more appealing to Bosh, compared to a unproven rookie. Although the Raptors probably couldn't get a significant stand out veteran by trading the pick, I believe by facilitating a package deal, a player deserving of attention would land in Toronto. However, media reports suggest the Raptors will indeed draft a rookie.

The Raptors have many presentable opportunities at the 13 pick. Since Colangelo has indicated he wants to trade either Jose Calderon or Jarrett Jack, the Raptors could go the point guard route, and draft a point guard who could fix the defensive issues in the backcourt.

NBA Insider Chad Ford has had the Raptors drafting Texas' guard Avery Bradley in several of his mock drafts. Bradley was #1 on ESPNU's Top 100 back in 2009 (which also included John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Xaiver Henry). Here's his scouting report, from ESPN.com:

Positives

Explosive scorer

Very quick

Long arms

Wiry strong

Big-time vertical leap

Terrific first step

Good midrange shooter

Lockdown defender

Negatives

Undersized for his position

Lacks NBA 3-point range on his jumper


Notice how he's a lockdown defender. He's defense would certainly fix the Raptors defensive issues. However, he is a 6'3 shooting guard, so the fact that he's undersized doesn't help his case. Bradley was scheduled to work out for a second time for the Raptors, but backed out because of an ankle sprain. The ankle sprain, according to reports, will end his workouts but should be healed in time for summer league. Chad Ford's newest mock draft, which released earlier today, has Avery Bradley going #17 to the Chicago Bulls. I'm guessing his stock has fallen because of the injury.

In today's mock draft, Chad Ford has the Raptors selecting Patrick Patterson from Kentucky. Although Patterson had a decent year at Kentucky, he flew under the radar because he played alongside guys like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Patterson, who is a 6'8 power forward averaged 14.3 points per game and 7.4 rebounds last year. Unlike Wall and Cousins, Patterson declared for the NBA Draft after his junior year. Here's his scouting report:

Positives

Long, athletic big man

NBA body and strength

Explosive leaper

Excellent shot-blocker and rebounder

Good finisher around the rim

Has range on his jump shot out to 15 feet

Plays physical in the paint

Negatives

Lacks ideal size at the 4

Needs to be in better shape

Still very raw with his low-post moves


Why does Chad Ford believe he'll land in Toronto?

"The Raptors could go in a number of different directions here. With Bosh likely out the door, Hedo Turkoglu pining for a trade and the team shopping Jose Calderon, you can expect the team to look radically different next season.

Finding a center is atop GM Bryan Colangelo's list. If Bosh leaves, he'd like to move Andrea Bargnani to the 4. But of the top big men left on the board -- Orton, Whiteside and Solomon Alabi -- none of them is close to being ready.

The Raptors have been looking closely at Avery Bradley, but their inability to find a trade for either Calderon or Jarrett Jack makes taking Bradley a risk. So look for them to focus on the best big man left on the board: Patterson. He may not be a flashy player or filled with upside, but he is tough, plays hard and will be solid at the next level. At pick No. 13, that's all you can ask for. Think of him as this year's Tyler Hansbrough".


Although I wouldn't mind Patterson, my ideal draft choice would be Cole Aldrich. Considering I'm a Kansas Jayhawks fan, I had the pleasure of watching Aldrich throughout the college basketball season, and I loved what I saw. Aldrich is a 230 pound, 6'10 center who can cause havoc in the paint. Aldrich averaged 11.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game in 27 minutes of play time last year. Here's his scouting report:


Positives

Very skilled big man with soft hands

Good basketball IQ, tough

Solid perimeter shot

Solid rebounder and excellent shot-blocker

Excellent passer for a big man

Soft touch on his jump shot

Shooting range extends all the way to the 3-point line

Better athlete than you think

Negatives

Questions about his motor

Not particularly explosive or quick

Not great in the transition game




I love Aldrich's game for a number of reasons. For one, he's a beast down low on both offense

and defense. He nearly averaged a double double. He averaged 3.5 blocks per game, thanks to his freakish 7'4 wingspan. He's NBA ready and could be an impact, whether coming off the bench or starting. Most importantly, he's a center. Last season, Bargnani and Bosh didn't have the defensive tools to cause problems in the paint--Aldrich would certainly fill that need.


Aldrich had his second workout today at the ACC, along with West Virginia's Devin Ebanks. Bryan Colangelo hinted today that he is pursuing a second first round pick.


Thursday marks the beginning, of a very long off-season for the Toronto Raptors. Buckle up folks, this is going to be one hell of a ride.

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