2011 NBA Playoffs and Draft Lottery: With an Eye of a (European) Raptor

Konstantinos CharitopoulosContributor IMay 18, 2011

The 2011 season is approaching its final part. Dallas, OKC in the West, and Miami, Chicago in the East are fighting for the two spots of the NBA Finals, which will give us the new 2011 NBA champion.

Besides the NBA Playoffs, the 2012 season started (even if we don't know when it will start due to the possible and undesirable lockout) on the 17th of May with the NBA lottery when the Raptors didn't get so lucky, or maybe not?

Firstly, let me start with the current season. These playoffs are not going as well as the Raptors expected. Why am I saying that? Because NBA West finalists (and prospective NBA finalists) Dallas, and Western Conference semifinalists Memphis have two of the Raptors' potential targets: Marc Gasol and Tyson Chandler. And if a player belongs to a team that almost reached the NBA Finals, or is trying to reach them, we will have second thoughts of leaving it and going to another, which is in a "rebuilding" mode. Of course, money matters, but basketball isn't always about money.

If the Raptors had the chance of acquiring one of these two centers, my opinion is that they should chose Chandler. Statistically, Marc Gasol is better; that's why in another article I said that Gasol may be better. I didn't have the opportunity to watch them play, as I had earlier during these playoffs.

What I've seen? Two big bodies, a slower and less energetic (even a little bit chubby) Spanish one, and a more athletic, strong and energetic American one.

They are both good defenders, but I liked Chandler's play more.

To be honest, when I first looked at Gasol's stats I was surprised. That's why in Europe, Marc was a mediocre, fat and slow player. In Europe, there is always one "good" Gasol, and that's Pau. This kid must be working hard to improve, and this is a positive sign, even if his body isn't translating this workload. His numbers, though, show a very good center (much better than the Raptors' ones) who had the opportunity to get experience, while playing so many minutes per game with the Grizzlies. This year his numbers were slightly decreased, but so was his playing time as well.

On the other hand, the more experienced Chandler (who was almost a Raptor at the beginning of this season) was traded to Dallas and ameliorated his numbers, while increasing his play time by five minutes.

Even now, the statistics comparison will say Gasol. I prefer Chandler.

Now, let's go to the 2012 season and this year's draft lottery.

The Raps didn't get so lucky. They started at the third place slot and they lost two places. Third place would haven meant that they had the chance to select Kanter, the Turk center who has the potential to dominate, but right now we don't know much about him. Surely, the third place doesn't give the opportunity of selecting Kyle Irving nor Derrick Williams.

So fifth it is. In fifth place there is no Irving, Williams or even Kanter. But there are some potential targets such as Kemba Walker, Brandon Knight and the Europeans Valaciunas and Vesely.

My opinion? Let the Europeans go. They are very good talents, but they're not ready to compete at a NBA level. My preferable selection is Kemba Walker.

Walker and Knight have some similarities (they're both scorers and clutch players), but there are many differences as well.

Walker has more experience than Knight, so he's more NBA ready. He was the leader of the 2011 NCAA Champion UCONN Huskies team, so he's a proven winner. His major drawback is his size (6'0"). But Allen Iverson is 6'0", too. So was Nick Gallis (never heard of him? He was the best Greek player of all time).

From the start, I have been wishing that, somehow, Kemba Walker would be a Raptor. That's why I don't know if the Raptors were unlucky at losing two spots (of course, Irving would be superb).

Finally, I believe that the Raptors must acquire a free-agent center, or even trade one, and get a PG draft pick.

Thank you for reading! And sorry again for my mistakes.