Defining Moments in Toronto Raptors Draft History
The 2009 NBA Draft is coming up on June 25th, and some teams have better luck than others.
The San Antonio Spurs had the good fortune of winning the draft lottery twice and selecting two of the top fifty players ever in David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
On the other hand, there are teams like the Portland Trail Blazers or the Detroit Pistons.
The Blazers took Sam Bowie and Greg Oden over players like Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant, while the Pistons had a chance to become a dynasty when they held the second overall pick in 2003 and had the option of selecting from one of four young stars: Carmelo Anthony, Darko Milicic, Dwayne Wade, or Chris Bosh.
Detroit went the bold direction and selected the European talent in Milicic.
While Wade, Anthony, and Bosh have become All-Stars and gold medal winners, Milicic has been traded twice after spending his three-year Piston career on the bench.
The Raptors haven’t been great or awful in their drafting, but they do have some defining moments.
1995 Draft: Damon Stoudemire selected seventh overall
The first-ever Toronto draft pick was a special talent, and the perfect personality and player for the franchise.
Many people were surprised at the pick, thinking that Toronto would draft Ed O’Bannon from UCLA.
However, the newest Raptor was the right pick, as Stoudemire won Rookie of the Year in 1995-96.
The Arizona product was perfect, because he was a floor general and accepted being the face of the franchise during the first couple awkward years of the team.
Even though he only spent three years with the Raptors before being dealt, he is still one of the most beloved Raptors of all time.
2003 Draft: Chris Bosh selected fourth overall
In one of the best drafts of the modern era, the Raptors had the good fortune of selecting fourth overall.
Toronto knew one of the coveted players would fall to them, but they just were not certain which player it would be. Toronto ended up selecting a skinny, freshman from Georgia Tech.
Bosh has developed into a top fifteen talent player in the NBA, an All-Star, and a Team USA gold medal winner.
His intensity on the court has improved every year, and has made the red Raptors number four jersey a best-seller.
1998 Draft Day Trade for Vince Carter
One is a loyal soldier who developed into a solid role player, while the other destroyed a franchise and a fan base.
Guess which is which?
In 1998, the Raptors selected Antawn Jamison and then, in a North Carolina swap, immediately traded him to the Golden State Warriors for Vince Carter.
Vince Carter was great for Toronto. He catapulted the franchise to the forefront of the NBA by winning the dunk contest, taking the Raptors to the playoffs and getting them to the second round by beating the New York Knicks.
A short while later, Carter decided he no longer wanted to be a Raptor and was traded, and the Raptor family has never really recovered.
2001 and 2004 Draft Misses
The Raptors were coming off a good season in 2001, so they were drafting lower, at number seventeen.
A game-changing player wasn’t expected, but someone who could contribute in a positive fashion was.
The Raptors passed on UNC product Brandon Haywood and a young freshman from Michigan State in Zach Randolph.
However, neither player would have turned the 2001 Raptors into NBA Champions, but they would have definitly helped.
Rafeal Araujo. Oh Hoffa,as he was affectionately known in Toronto. The eighth pick in the 2004 draft came out of nowhere.
He wasn’t a threat to be drafted by any other team in the top twenty, and he didn’t play at a big college against any great competition.
A big body who had a great workout in Toronto tricked the Raptors into selecting him in the top ten.
The number of other players the Raptors could have chosen instead are staggering: Andre Iguodala, Andris Biedrins, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, and Jameer Nelson are just those that would have been available in the top twenty.
These are by far the two biggest first-round busts in Raptor draft history.
First Overall Picks
Twice in franchise history the Raptors have been fortunate enough to “win” the first overall pick.
The first time it occurred was in 1996. It was the second year of the franchise, and by getting this pick, it should have helped push the team into a contender much sooner.
However, the NBA had instituted a rule banning either expansion franchise from winning the lottery, so instead of drafting number one, the Raptors instead picked second.
Future NBA Hall of Famer, Allen Iverson was drafted first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Raptors selected Marcus Camby, who developed into a great defensive talent, but is nowhere near the talent of Iverson.
It isn’t certain that the Raptors would have taken the flashy point guard from Georgetown, since the previous year they selected Stoudamire, who had won Rookie of the Year.
Would they have still selected Camby at number one?
In 2006, the Raptors had another chance to choose number one overall, and this time there was no clear player that should be taken at the top of the draft.
General manager Bryan Colangelo chose Andrea Bargnani who, in his third season, has begun to develop into the player many thought he could be when he was selected at number one.
The player that would have had a bigger impact, given 20/20 hindsight, is Brandon Roy.
The shooting guard has developed into an All-Star and a dominating scoring threat that the Raptors could definitely use.