In an offseason that should prove to be eventful, if not ugly with regard to the new collective bargaining agreement, this year's NBA Draft has already taken quite a hit.
Big-name prospects like Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes and many others appear to be taking a pass on the NBA, opting to return to school in light of rumors about a work stoppage.
Who stands to lose probably the most by this right now? The Toronto Raptors.
You may ask why do they stand to lose the most by this?
It's fairly simple. They own a top-three pick in the upcoming draft. While its not a very deep draft, the top-two players—Kyrie Irvin and Derrick Williams—have the potential to be like Chris Paul and David West, respectively.
After that, it appears that imports like Donatas Motiejunas, Enes Kanter, Jan Vesely and Jonas Valanciunas look to have lottery written all over them.
Does Toronto want to go the softer Euro route in a draft eerily similar to the Bargnani draft?
I believe it's in their best interest to trade the draft pick this time around, as opposed to holding onto to it and possibly picking the wrong player.
With the late-season play of Jerryd Bayless, who is growing by leaps and bounds as a starter, it looks like the club could afford to trade point guard Jose Calderon.
Would You Look to Trade the First Round Pick if its not a top two pick?
Calderon, who has seen his play improve with a healthier, more fit body of work, is currently Toronto's best trade asset.
Bryan Colangelo, or whoever takes over if he is not re-signed, has some work ahead of them, but the club is primed for a bounce-back season next year.
Armed with cap space to spare, a high draft pick and a few tradeable young assets, the Raptors are poised to make some noise this offseason.
The biggest position of need right now is obviously center and small forward. They'll need a big, bruising center to help alleviate the rebounding and defensive pressure currently on our favorite "Primo" donna Andrea Bargnani. They will also need a guard or two that can defend and create their own shot.
I believe all of thos needs can be solved with a trade or two, as well as a savvy free-agent signing.
Free agents like Tyson Chandler, Marc Gasol, Samuel Dalembert, Troy Murphy and even injury risks like Greg Oden and Yao Ming could be had for the right price. They all fit in with the idea of a center to compliment Bargnani.
Bargnani and Calderon appear to be on the trading block while Leandro Barbosa, who currently holds a player option, is still a trade possibility as well.
My vote is to include the third overall pick (if they don't receive a top-two pick) along with either Calderon or Bargnani and actually make some thunder with a blockbuster deal to shake up this dying franchise.
The Raptors have a good core of five young players to build around in Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Amir Johnson and, of course, Ed Davis, who really surprised many with his consistent play and ability to finish close to the rim.
The Raptors have the right pieces going forward, but should they look to trade the draft pick this year if they don't win the lottery?