Raptors Should Target Earl Clark at 2009 NBA Draft

Miikeee D.Correspondent IApril 18, 2009

Today is the first day of ethe NBA playoffs, and while the Raptors are not included, the Raptor brass should still be hard at work in figuring out ways to improve the team. The first order of business for Bryan Colangelo, Maurizio Gherardini, Wayne Embry, et al. is to discuss an extension for soon-to-be free agent, Chris Bosh.

Bosh is the present and the future of this organization. He is great on the court, and even better in the community. He is the exact foundational player any team can build around.

The next order of business is the draft. The draft is very important this year because the Raptors actually have a pick in the first round! Since drafting Andrea Barganani with the first overall pick in 2006, the Raptors have only had a single pick in the entire draft (2008 - No. 41, Nathan Jawai).

While Colangelo got good value from this pick, the second round is not a great place to be when making your team’s first selection.

This year, the Raptors can address a gaping hole that is the difference between a good team and a great team. The Raptors desperately need a combo guard. As much as I would hate to admit it, I miss Morris Peterson.

Anthony Parker was a nice fill in last year, but was inconsistent this year. I like Parker’s game, but he is more suited for bench minutes and defensive matchups. The Raptors need a long, projectable body, who can create his own shot, and consistently make jumpers.

We missed out on this player in 2005, when I screamed for Danny Granger at the number sixteen spot. Instead, the pre-Colangelo Raptors took Joey Graham, and Granger went a pick later. Graham has turned out to be a serviceable player, but Granger has a taller frame and a longer wingspan, that the Raptors desperately needed.

This is why the Raptors should target Earl Clark on June 25th. Clark, a 6′10″ junior from the University of Louisville is exactly what the Raptors need. He is long, he has size (220 lbs) he is athletic and he is explosive.

He led his Cardinals team to the Big East regular season title and the number overall seed going into the NCAA tournament. He averaged 14.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Coincidentally, NBADraft.net compares his game to Danny Granger’s.

It is not about what Clark has done in school, but what he could do in the NBA. His body is very projectable and athletic. Coaches and scouts love this body type because it has so much potential. Clark may need a little work on his jump shot, but like Vince Carter, he could develop that when he is in the majors.

Depending on who you talk to, Clark is projected to go around the seventh to tenth pick. The Raptors currently sit at the ninth spot, but could fluctuate depending on the lottery. Nonetheless, Colangelo may need to work the phones in order to move up to grab Clark.

If the Raptors fail to get Clark, there are a few consolation prizes.

Chase Budinger, University of Arizona. Budinger is a poor man’s Clark, with a better jump shot. He is 6′7″/220 lbs, but is equally, if not more athletic than Clark. He can fit into that 2-3 position in the NBA.

Budinger is an explosive jumper, stemming from his days as a high school standout volleyball player. He could have went to any school for volleyball, but chose to join Lute Olsen at Arizona, when Olsen was still the coach. The main difference between Budinger and Clark is a more consistent jump shot.

Gerald Henderson, Duke University. As much as I love Duke and Henderson, I think Henderson is a little undersized to play the shooting guard position. However, at 6′5″, he is explosive, athletic and has a great shot. He has good make up (his father played in the NBA) and is a student of Coach K. What’s not to like?

Wayne Ellington, University of North Carolina. Very similar to Henderson, except less explosive, but a better jump shot. Again, at 6′5″, he is a little undersized, but can make up for it with his spot up shooting ability. Coached well at UNC, won a national championship, and players out of the UNC program usually turn out to be great NBA players.

James Johnson, Wake Forest. Another ACC guy. Johnson is slated to go a little further in the draft, so if the Raptors’ ping pong ball doesn’t come up when it’s supposed to, Johnson could be their man. Johnson has size (6′8″/235) but is a little raw. He loses focus at times, but has a good mid range shot. He will need to develop a 3-point shot, if he wants to take the next step.


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