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Old 05-20-2011, 12:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Arrow Chisholm: Who will the Raptors be looking for at the draft?

If the Toronto Raptors choice to re-sign Bryan Colangelo seemed inevitable on Tuesday afternoon, it looked necessary by Tuesday night. While the team had the third-worst record in the NBA this season, they wound up dropping in the draft lottery to fifth, essentially removing two (as yet unknown) players from their available pool to choose from on draft night. Colangelo was philosophical about the drop after the lottery went down, pointing out that not only does the fifth pick have a smaller cap hold than the third pick (relevant in terms of available cap space for free agent pursuit this summer), but that taking certain players that the team in interested in fifth is a lot more palatable than reaching for them at three. Who will the team be looking at in anticipation of the draft? Here's an early look.


ENES KANTER - C - 6-11 - Turkey

While it's reasonable to assume that Utah will take a serious look at Kanter at three, and he likely won't fall below Cleveland at four, Toronto would no doubt love to see him be available when they pick. While he's missed nearly two years of competitive play for a variety of eligibility reasons, he's a beast of a centre with strong low-post instincts, rebounding acumen and stellar passing. He'd slide in perfectly alongside either Andrea Bargnani or Ed Davis in Toronto's front court by bringing a toughness to the position that the Raptors desperately need. Given the unlikelihood that he'll be on the board at five, though, combined with the strong free agent market for centres this summer, Toronto probably won't be able to fill their big-man need in the draft. If they can, however, it is a safe assumption that they would seriously consider doing so with Kanter.

BRANDON KNIGHT - G - 6-3 - Kentucky

Of all the players in the draft that may be available to the Raptors, Knight would seem to possess the greatest breadth of skills the club needs. He's a big, defensively-minded scoring guard that can create shots going to the basket while also hitting a decent percentage from behind the arc. He's not a natural playmaker, though, which means that he'll take some time to develop as an NBA-grade point guard (think Jrue Holiday) and at just 18 years old he'll have his growing pains out on the court early on, which may limit the team's ability to be competitive if they commit to starting him on day one. However, on the basis of his size, defence and three-point shooting alone he'll get a long look if he's available, and may well top the Raptors' board by the time the draft comes along.

KEMBA WALKER - G - 6-1 - UConn

If the Raptors want Walker, he'll almost assuredly be on the board when they pick. He's a strong scoring guard that oozes leadership, which is a desperately needed commodity in the Raptors locker room. Like Knight, he's not a pure point guard, but his incredible speed and ability to create his own shot shifts defences with ease and he'll be able to make plays for others on the basis of that skill. While be lucked out at the Chicago pre-draft camp this week by measuring a legit 6'1" in shoes (some feared he may be closer to 5'10"), he's still small in a league that is trending bigger at the point with guys like Derrick Rose and John Wall, and that may place him below Brandon Knight on Toronto's draft board. Nonetheless, he possess strengths that the Raptors need, especially as it pertains to leadership and scoring acumen, and that may be enough to get him to Toronto regardless of his physical stature.
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