Should the Toronto Raptors Trade into the 2013 NBA Draft?

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Should the Toronto Raptors Trade into the 2013 NBA Draft?
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The Raptors could use some help at point guard and on the low post.

Currently, the Toronto Raptors will get nothing from the 2013 NBA draft. They gave up their first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for Kyle Lowry in 2012 and they dealt away their second-round pick to the Dallas Mavericks for Solomon Alabi in 2010.

However, the Raptors could make a quick trade in order to acquire a pick in the upcoming draft, which will take place Thursday, June 27. This may mean giving away a starter or a solid bench player, but it could also pay off for Toronto. In 2011, the Toronto Raptors selected center Jonas Valanciunas with the fifth overall pick, and the big man exhibited great improvement and talent this season.

The Raptors have a strong forward in Rudy Gay and a solid shooting guard in DeMar DeRozan, but they could use some help at point guard. Lowry had a mediocre season, and Toronto could potentially use him as a trading piece in order to grab a rookie point guard from the draft.

If they make the right trade, the Raptors could snag a late pick in the first round or one in the second round. If they’re looking for a point guard late in the first round, Shane Larkin is predicted to be taken as the 23rd pick. Larkin is a sophomore from Miami who averaged 14.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 36.4 minutes for the 2012-13 season.

In the second round, Lorenzo Brown of North Carolina State is projected to go at the eighth spot. Brown is a bit behind Larkin in terms of points but better in rebounds and assists; he averaged 12.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 7.2 assists in 34.2 minutes for 2012-13. Nate Wolters, a senior from South Dakota State, is predicted to go ninth in the second round of the draft. He averaged 22.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game last season.

Close behind Wolters is Ray McCallum of Detroit, who is believed to go at the 11th spot in the second round. The senior point guard averaged 18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 36.6 minutes last season. Another solid pick is Baylor’s Pierre Jackson at the 12th spot; Jackson averaged 19.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game for 2012-13.

All of these young options seem solid replacements for a mediocre Lowry, who averaged only 11.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 6.4 assists per 29.7 minutes last season with the Raptors. However, any rookie point guard will face a huge adjustment coming in to lead a team in the NBA. The Raptors would be taking a huge risk if they decided to go for a draft pick to replace Lowry.

The Raptors could also try to trade for a draft pick in order to get another low-post man, seeing as Andrea Bargnani proved himself basically useless last season. It would probably be difficult to get rid of Bargnani for a solid pick in the draft, though, because of his large contract.

However, there are some intriguing centers and power forwards in the second round of the draft that the Raptors could set their sights on if they made the right trade. Predicted to go at the fourth spot is Mike Muscala, a senior center from Bucknell University. Muscala averaged an impressive 18.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per 31.7 minutes last season.

Jackie Carmichael from Illinois State is believed to be picked at the seventh spot in the second round. The power forward averaged 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds each game during the 2012-13 season. Colton Iverson is another solid big man available in the draft. The center is projected to go at the 18th spot and averaged 14.2 points and 9.8 rebounds last season.

These big men are a few among the many talented low-post players available in the second round of the 2013 draft. Given Bargnani’s poor statistics and early exit last season due to injury, the Raptors could certainly use some backup for Amir Johnson and Valanciunas on the low post.

Though they could definitely grab some talent in the draft, the Toronto Raptors would need to trade for draft picks very carefully. They shouldn’t give up key players like Gay or DeRozan for a shot at a good pick in the 2013 draft; this would be too much of a gamble. However, should they organize the right trade, the Raptors could benefit from trading into this year’s draft.

Predictions for draft selections taken from DraftExpress' 2013 mock draft.

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