NBA Draft 2011 : The 5 at 5 for the Toronto Raptors
For the Toronto Raptors, the NBA draft is a place where they can begin to build around the young talent they already have in hopes of returning to the postseason. With the likes of Demar DeRozan, Andrea Bargnani, and Ed Davis already penciled in as the core of Toronto's young nucleus, draft day should provide fans a glimpse of what their future holds. New Raptor coach Dwane Casey will be looking for a player who share his defensive principles, while ownership will no doubt be looking for leadership for their young squad. Here are the five likeliest picks for the Toronto Raptors at #5, and what we can expect from them at the helm of Canada's lone NBA franchise.
Best Possible Outcome: Brandon Knight
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Brandon Knight: 6'3", PG, Kentucky
What Brandon Knight can bring to the Raptors is a leader at the point-guard position who has the tools to become a very good two-way player.
He has the physical tools to be a great defender, and the high-IQ needed to man an NBA franchise. He also craves the ball in last-minute scenarios, and he has the ability to create his own shot.
He could become the complete all-around player the Raptors have been waiting for, and matching him with Demar DeRozan would give the Raptors the most athletic back-court in the Atlantic Division.
Next Best Thing: Kemba Walker
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Kemba Walker: 6'1", PG, UConn
Kemba Walker knows how to win.
Can the Raptors afford to pass on a winner? My gut feeling says no.
Many executives believe that Walker can be just as solid a pro as Knight, and realistically he has done nothing to show us any reason to doubt him.
After a truly fantastic junior season, Kemba Walker could inject some winning attitude in a franchise that has sorely lacked it in the recent past.
He is a terrific worker who will leave it all on the floor.
I get the feeling he could be a version of Allen Iverson with more of a work ethic. He just exudes that kind of confidence. It's hard to see if he will measure up in the NBA, but he is undoubtedly the toughest leader of the point guard group.
The Safe Bet: Kawhi Leonard
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Kawhi Leonard: 6'8", SF, San Diego State
If the Raptors are looking to fill a need instead of drafting the best player available, Leonard could be just the fit they are looking for.
He has solid size for the small-forward position, and has the athletic ability to complement DeMar DeRozan on the wings.
He can shoot a little bit, but his high energy should be an asset to new coach Dwane Casey and his defensive mindset.
He could flourish in Toronto as it would provide a great atmosphere with a strong coach at the helm of a young team.
The Big Risk: Bismack Biyombo
Bismack Biyombo: 6'9", PF, Congo
Bismack Biyombo is the big mystery surrounding the draft.
While his age is suspect, there is no doubt about his talents, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Few are expecting Biyombo to be an offensive powerhouse, but his defensive ability has executives drooling at the potential.
He has drawn comparisons to Ben Wallace, and would be a perfect complement to the defensive schemes that are to be implemented in Toronto this upcoming season.
I just worry about taking a player in the top five who can only offer defense.
If Biyombo is indeed the pick, at least trade down a few spots and nab him later.
The Prospect: Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas: 6'11", PF, Lithuania
Valanciunas could very well be the most talented player in the draft this year.
He is also likely to sit out at least a year due to buyout issues with his European team.
Regardless, he is an extraordinary talent, capable of playing either the forward or center position.
He has an amazing touch around the rim, and he is even considered to be a fairly strong defensive presence, bucking the trend that big Europeans can't play defensive.
At only 19 years old, the sky is the limit for young Jonas, and while the Raptors are in the rebuilding process, it's not like they need an immediate fix next year.
Perhaps waiting a year for Valanciunas, as well as pairing him with a likely lottery pick next year, could be the best possible scenario for the Raptors organization to take in the hopes of turning the franchise around.