The Toronto Raptors' 2010 Draft Options

Stephen Brotherston@@ProBballNBAAnalyst IJune 10, 2010

NEW YORK - JUNE 25:  NBA Commissioner David Stern speaks prior to the start of the 2009 NBA Draft at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden June 25, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Many Toronto fans are hoping the Raptors are planning to either move up in the 2010 NBA Draft or at least acquire another pick. Either or both are possible. It’s even possible the Raptors trade out of the draft altogether.

As it stands now, the Raptors are picking thirteenth overall in the draft and that seems to remain the case when the draft rolls around in two weeks time.

As exciting as every draft is from the first pick through the second round, every pick has some risks attached and the risk increases dramatically as one moves away from the first overall. By the time they are calling names at the end of the lottery, every pick has some significant issue attached.

There is no reason not to be excited by the thirteenth pick as long as that excitement is tempered by a full measure of realism.

Over the past month nearly every pick has has been on the move. It is actually getting tough to keep up with the divergent and inconsistent positions of the various draft boards. Not to mention the movement created after each of the prospects goes through the numerous group and individual workouts.

If the Raptors want a big man to add to their roster, there is going to be one available that someone, at some time, thought was going to be a sure top ten pick or better. There should even be some interesting small forwards available.

And in what must be a first for the Raptors, this draft doesn’t appear to have too many lottery bound guards at a time when the Raptors have as many six players on their roster clogging up those spots. Drafting for need shouldn’t cause too much of a dilemma.

While everyone would like to know what Bryan Colangelo has in the works for Chris Bosh—a sign and trade, new contract, or just gone could all have direct implications as to what Toronto should be leaning towards.  At this time, one should just be expecting the Raptors to draft the best available player.

Some draft boards are currently projecting Xavier Henry as the Raptors pick and Henry looks like he would be a solid pick at the end of the lottery.  But the 6′ 6″ wing seems so much like DeMar DeRozan that unless the Raptors are planning to trade last year’s pick, there is no logical reason to put Henry on the Raptors roster.

And there is no shortage of comparable talent at other positions in this draft. Some of the draftees that might have captured the imagination of the Raptors brass who could be available include:

  1. Cole Aldrich , Center, Junior, Kansas. Featured anywhere from seven to 13 on draft boards. Aldrich measured out at 6′ 9″ without shoes but he has a 7′ 5″ wingspan and at 250 lbs can play in the post.  Considered a defensive role player at the next level, Aldrich was a 10 points, 10 boards and 3.5 blocks kind of guy in college. The future “Joel Przybilla” label doesn’t seem out of line.
  2. Paul George , Sophomore, Fesno State. This 6′ 8″ small forward is considered to be super-athletic. So of course his NBA pre-draft athletic test results are MIA (What doesn’t his agent want us to know?). On draft boards anywhere from 11 to 23, the news seems to be George has been impressive in workouts and will end up in the lottery.  Last season, George was good for 16.8 points, 7.2 boards, 2.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks. George could be one of the sleepers in this year’s draft?  Or not.
  3. Gordon Hayward , Sophomore, Butler. This 6′ 8″ forward led the Bulldogs to an impressive run in the NCAA tournament. Anyone who watched him had to be impressed by his basketball IQ at the college level. But the knocks on Hayward are his small school background and a lack of athleticism. His 34.5″ vertical and other test scores were typical of other draft prospects. If Hayward’s game translates to small forward at the next level, he is definitely worth a late lottery selection. Look for him on draft boards anywhere between 10 and 19.
  4. Hassan Whiteside , Freshman, Marshall. A seven footer in shoes with a 7′ 7″ wingspan and 9′ 5″ standing reach, this prospect has a freakish body that could translate into the next “Marcus Camby”.  Whiteside averaged 5.4 blocks per game in college. Still susceptible to being pushed around and holding onto a “raw” label, someone will take a chance on this big man’s potential. Most often seen at the tail of the lottery or a couple of spots later on draft boards.
  5. Daniel Orton , Freshman, Kentucky. This center is showing up on draft boards anywhere from 13 to 30. Orton is hard to rank.  He played behind DeMarcus Cousins last season and was limited to about 13 minutes per game. At 6′ 9″ without shoes and 260 lbs, Orton is physically big enough to play center at the next level. Concerns about his weight probably are not serious enough to hold him back. But all the positive comments about Orton can’t cover up one thing. He really didn’t play that much during his only college season.
  6. Luke Babbitt , Sophomore, Nevada. Another 6′ 8″ small forward, Babbitt is considered highly skilled as is obvious from the 21.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 0.8 blocks. But Babbitt is another player all over the draft boards from 12 to 25. A 6′ 11″ wingspan and a 37.5″ vertical is offset by below average speed and questionable first step.  There is some concern about whether Babbitt’s game translates to the NBA, but some think he could be the next “Keith Van Horn”.
  7. Ekpe Udoh , Junior, Baylor. This power forward/center is another long armed 6′ 10″ prospect who could become an effective inside presence. At 23, Udoh is significantly older than his peers and unless that translates into more NBA ready, this will impact his draft position.  Udoh changed schools and took a year off basketball but came back for his best season ever. There are a lot of positives from last year but the 3.7 blocks and 2.7 assists stand out. Currently showing up on draft boards at eight to 16, Udoh is a legitimate lottery prospect.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the draft prospects the Raptors are likely looking at but it does illustrate some of the issues surrounding mid first round picks.

Each of these picks should be able to make an NBA roster and eventually stick, but each of the players are not in the top five for good reasons. Either the potential upside is expected to be limited to that of a role player. Maybe their skills are “raw” and will never fully develop, or those amazing college skills may not translate well to the next level.

But any of these fine college players should generate at least some excitement on draft day for Raptors fans.

And if you have seen a draft board where one of these players is ranked significantly higher or lower send me the link.

And for those fans hoping for an Avery Bradley sighting on draft day, Bradley is currently ranked anywhere from 14 to 20. Maybe if the Raptors move a point guard, they would consider this freakish athlete.