Toronto Raptors Need To Take a Chance in a Ho-Hum Draft

Sang NguyenCorrespondent IMay 12, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 15:  Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts with teammate Wayne Ellington #22 after Hansbrough made the game-winning shot with .8 seconds left against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the semifinals of the 2008 Men's ACC Basketball Tournament at Bobcats Arena on March 15, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

As I’m sure you noticed the Toronto Raptors are out of the playoffs.

This was the exact scenario I previously laid out when I found out the team had picked up Jermaine O'Neal in a trade. Despite putting forth the doomsday scenario, even I didn't really think it would come to pass. But O'Neal stunk it up and here we are.

Yet, the team was worse than just being plain bad. They actually weren’t bad enough.

Because of the late season push when it was meaningless, the Raptors are currently positioned to get the ninth or 10th spot in this season's draft. A draft that is so ludicrously mediocre that anything outside the top three is essentially meaningless.

Even if they had somehow gotten in the top three, anyone not named Blake Griffin would be considered a loss.

 I'm not sold on PG Ricky Rubio. He was a non-factor at the Olympics, and whatever international games I've seen him play, he's played poorly. Toronto already has the dominant Spaniard point guard in Calderon anyways.

So where does this leave the Raptors? Let's just say they're not expecting Chris Bosh's replacement from this batch. So why should the team play it safe? Why do what the scouts say and choose the projected ninth picks like Gerald Henderson or DeMar Derozen?

I say take a crapshoot, roll those die and go against the grain.

Who am I talking about? I'm talking about Tyler Hansbrough, projected by every mock draft to come at the tail end of the first round, if not the beginning of the second.

Is he the best scorer? No, he isn't. Is he the most athletic? Let's see the footage...nope. Is he the most dominating physical player? I'm going to have to say no.

So why should Toronto pick him up with the 9th pick?

Look at David Lee, probably Hansbrough closest proxy currently in the NBA. I'm positive every single GM in the league is salivating the prospect of getting Lee onto their rosters next season.

Like Lee, Hansbrough is 6"9 and 240-245 lbs. Like Lee, he's projected to be taken deep in the first round. Like Lee, he's a slightly undersized power forward that brings one very crucial factor to any successful team: guts.

The grit, intensity, leadership and desire to win above all else. Lee's a perennial double-double machine not because of any inherent advantage genetically, but because he plays smart and crashes the board every single play.

Hansbrough plays very much the same game and, coming off the bench, can bring the spark that Toronto's current bench absolutely lacks.

So, with a terrible draft looming I really can't see a downside in taking the chance and getting Hansbrough. If the scouts are right, no other team will want him that early. If it turns out to be a bad decision, he'll just be another underachiever in a draft that looks to be full of them.

And if it pays out? Toronto will have an average man's David Lee at a fraction of the price.

And you should definitely salivate at that prospect.