NBA Lockout Draft Order Could Screw With Toronto Raptors Rebuild

By Dan Levine

Some food for thought on a Friday afternoon…

Last season, it seemed like Bryan Colangelo finally understood that his team would need to hit rock bottom before it would have the chance to contend for anything that matters. That meant no trading for veterans just to squeeze into the playoffs as the 8th seed, and no more swinging for the fences by giving a good player star money (Hedo Turkoglu).

I actually think he’s done a pretty good job since then. Ed Davis turned out to be a very good draft pick, while Jonas Valanciunas certainly looks like the right selection (He’s also been playing real games in Europe while most rookies are playing in charity games across the US). Colangelo hired what looks to be the right coach for this team, and he resisted the urge to add salary during the season.

The Raptors were set up to have plenty of cap space in the coming summers, along with another very high draft pick in a loaded class next year. Because lets’ face it – The Raps weren’t going to finish outside of the bottom 5 without roster improvements this season (especially with Valanciunas playing in Europe).

Unfortunately, some of the NBA’s draft scenarios for next spring are far from ideal for Toronto, if there is no season this year. In general, the league will likely put together a draft order/lottery that factors in aggregate winning percentages over the past 3 to 5 seasons. If this happens, the Raps can kiss their potential top-5 pick goodbye.

With a 3-year aggregate, the team will pick at No. 7. That isn’t horrible, but it’s still not great. With a 5-year aggregate, the team will pick at No. 13. That, in my opinion, is BS. In that scenario, Toronto would pick behind the Knicks, Clippers and the Thunder, among others. But haven’t those teams already bottomed out and used their high picks to get better? Would it really help the league to pair Carmelo and Amare with the No. 7 pick, rather than giving it to teams that really need this?

Another scenario would replicate the most recent lottery, where Toronto had great odds at No. 3 but fell to No. 5. Raptors fans are surely hoping this will be the case. Finally, one of the aggregate options may happen, but with recent seasons weighted higher. That wouldn’t be so bad either.

Overall, you need stars to win in the NBA. And it’s really, really hard to get them without a top pick in the draft. Look how LeBron, Howard and Durant, among others, totally changed the direction of their respective franchises.

Hey, at least there are some teams that would get screwed even worse. Look at Cleveland – in the 5-year scenario, they would pick at No. 21… while the Miami Heat would pick at No. 15.  Makes sense, right?

What do you think about all this?

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