Yes, at first I was pretty upset that the Raptors didn’t move up in the lottery, even though I wasn’t really expecting them to. And yes, I am convinced that the draft lottery was rigged this year and last. I would like to see changes to the way the draft order is determined and/or have the lottery actually conducted live for everyone to see, rather than behind closed doors.
That being said, rather than complaining, we must now move on and remain positive. In reality, things are looking up for the Raptors, and here’s why.
First of all, the Raptors can still get a decent player with the eighth overall pick, as guys like Dion Waiters, Damian Lillard and possibly Harrison Barnes and Perry Jones III are expected to be available when the Raptors are on the clock. Furthermore, whomever they pick will be locked up for at least four years and will only cost half as much as if they picked first or second overall.
Yes, I understand this is not a huge consolation, but for a team like the Raptors—which has to continually overpay to bring in FAs and which could look to use its cap to improve the team via trade this offseason—that extra $2 million per year can make a pretty big difference.
Secondly, and perhaps most important, keep in mind that the Raptors have last year’s fifth overall pick, Jonas Valanciunas, coming over next season. If Valanciunas had opted to enter this year's draft instead, he undoubtedly would have been in the running for the second overall pick behind Anthony Davis.
So when you think about it, aside from New Orleans and Portland, which has two lottery picks this year, the Raptors stand to benefit the most from this year’s draft, assuming they hang on to the eighth-overall pick. What’s more, the Raptors also have two second-round picks at their disposal.
What should the Raptors do with their first round pick?
Finally, if the Raptors decide they don’t like the players that are or are likely to be available eighth overall, they can always package the pick with another player and make a trade. They could either bring in an established veteran, or they could trade down in the draft, which means they’d bring in a late lottery player and someone else.
No matter how you slice it, landing the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft is not the end of the world for the Toronto Raptors. We still have a lot to look forward to, and we should take pride in the fact that we have a team and a coach who aren’t going to lay down to anyone.
While other teams “tanked” this past season and purposely lost games, the Raptors were out there giving their all every night. Coming from a young team, this is certainly something we should take solace in. We know that no matter what the score is, our coach and our team are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to get the win.