NBA Draft 2012: Why the Toronto Raptors Must Draft a Small Forward

Patrick BrittonAnalyst IMay 22, 2012

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 25:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels gets set to attempt a shot against Kansas Jayhawks during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional Final at Edward Jones Dome on March 25, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri. Kansas won 80-67.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

For years, the small forward position has been a glaring weakness for the Toronto Raptors. It seems every year the Raptors have a new player at the position. James Johnson, Sonny Weems, Hedo Turkoglu, Jamario Moon, Jason Kapono, the list goes on. While the majority of these names are respectable players, they haven’t had a player at small forward they can rely on to play quality basketball for a full season.

The Raptors clearly lacked scoring last year. Drafting a small forward can help that. Calderon is not a great scorer and Bargnani and DeRozan are not good enough to be go-to-scorers on good teams. Getting a small forward who’s a gifted scorer such as North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes will help the Raptors offense tremendously going forward.  

By not having a talented small forward on their roster, the Raptors put themselves at a big disadvantage compared to the rest of the teams in the Atlantic Division. Boston has Paul Pierce, Philly has Andre Iguodala and New York has Carmelo Anthony. Those are three all-star players. If the Raptors don’t manage to get a small forward with All-Star potential, they will put themselves in a deep hole, every time they step court against their division rivals.

Thankfully for Toronto, there are plenty of options this year. Harrison Barnes, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones III and Michael Kidd Gilchrist all have the potential to be stars in the NBA within the next five years. The Raptors finished eighth last this season and will have a good chance of having one of those four players fall to them in the draft on June 28.

With Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Andrea Bargnani, Jonas Valanciunas and their new small forward, the Raptors have a good chance at challenging for a playoff position next season. The Magic may trade Dwight Howard, the Knicks may lose Jeremy Lin and the Celtics are one year older. There will be opportunity for the Raptors to make the playoffs, and the best chance they have of making it is if they are smart and draft a small forward this summer.