Raptors Eyeing Hometown Prize?

By Norm

Hey there folks. Quick intro, my name is Norm d’Entremont, I’m a 23 year old student at the College of Sports Media. I’ll be doing the basketball beat here. Like most people here, I’m deeply passionate about sports. Hope it shows.


The Toronto Raptors are embarking on one of the biggest off-seasons in franchise history. After a club-record 48 wins in the regular season, and a thrilling 7-game series in their first trip back to the playoffs since 2008, the Raptors are on the precipice of building a perennial contender. Not since the Vince Carter years has there been such a buzz surrounding the club, placing that much more importance on this summer’s activity, beginning Thursday night at the NBA Draft.

The Raptors reporters have all beat around the fact that GM Masai Ujiri has a handful of guys in mind at the 20th overall pick and certainly has needs to fill, notably a big small forward and a rim protector. At the same time, a lot of the writers are throwing around Brampton, Ontario point guard Tyler Ennis as a potential fit. This isn’t insane; Ennis had a great freshman year at Syracuse and is currently projected to go somewhere in the mid to late first round.

That being said, the Raptors shouldn’t just go after Ennis because he’s the hometown kid. Knowing Masai Ujiri’s track record, I doubt it would be the case, but you get the feeling that there’s a swell building around the fan base to draft the Syracuse standout. Even in the press, there’s not shortage of mentions of Ennis’ backgroud.

– Ryan Wolstat, Toronto Sun,  in his latest mock draft – “20. Toronto. Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse. Raptors finally claim a big win in Brooklyn, getting hometown star.”

– Doug Smith, Toronto Star, in his latest mock draft – “The hometown kid becomes the first local ever drafted by Raptors and gets picked entirely on merit. He may not be flashy but he is a solid leader and has many fans among Toronto’s brain trust.”

– Josh Lewenberg, TSN.ca, in his latest report – “When the Brampton-native auditioned in Toronto as part of the Raptors’ first workout crop this spring, it seemed like a pipe dream to think he could fall to his hometown team at 20.”

As Doug Smith points out, drafting Ennis would strictly be a basketball decision (one would hope). Kyle Lowry’s status is still up in the air, and although Ujiri says he’s putting all his chips on the table to sign him, there’s a possibility he could walk. That obviously leaves a hole at point guard, and Ennis looks to be an NBA-ready player.

But if guys like K.J. McDaniels, Adreian Payne, or Kyle Anderson are still on the board, maybe that’s the route the Raptors should go if they are truly in the market for a forward with size.  If point guard is a hole Ujiri is really eyeing, maybe Shabazz Napier is the guy; his stock has continued to rise since leading Connecticut to the NCAA title.

Above all else, it should be based on talent, obviously. If anything, it might be a sneaky move to not draft a Canadian. Toronto has been the Chicago O’Hare of the NBA in recent years – a temporary stop on the way to bigger and brighter things for guys like Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, and Chris Bosh – but maybe the reverse can be true with Canadians. Maybe they’re the ones that leave the Milwaukees and the Clevelands to come home.

Either way, don’t be surprised if Tyler Ennis isn’t the guy. It’s about filling needs, not seats, and he may or may not be the best option at 20. But if he is the best available, all the more power to him for getting the chance to play for his hometown.

Enjoy the draft!

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