I really do want to get as excited for the NBA Draft as I do for its NFL counterpart. There really is no reason not to, as an impact player on the court has to have more of an impact on a team than an impact player on a field with far more participants, right? That should make sense.
But I’m just not as excited, and I never seem to be able to ramp up the enthusiasm either. Maybe that comes from the realization that my hometown Twolves can’t get a stroke of luck to save their lives in the lottery or make picks like Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn over Stephen Curry or take Derrick Williams at No. 2. Fixating on that can really bring a man down.
The Toronto Raptors have the 20th pick. Normally that pick in the first round would be little more than a side note. It would be the kind of thing that sounds good when you acquire it in February but far less appetizing when you actually get to check out the mocks closer to the actual draft.
That is an interesting view into how mid-first round picks are viewed in the NBA compared to the NFL. It takes a star in to get a first-round pick in a trade in the NFL. That should probably explain such dichotomy in my excitement.
But this is a strong draft. At least that’s what we have been told from the beginning of the season. It was the reason that I surmised, more than once, that trading a draft picks was going to be non-existent at the deadline this season.
The major story of the summer for the Raptors isn’t going to be about who they get at No. 20.
Kyle Lowry’s status is the story, and the Raptors’ plans in the draft may give a window of insight into what they expect to happen with Lowry. A majority of mocks over the past month or so have the Raptors going with a guard, either serving as a hedge or just a value grab at that point. I tend to think the latter, and I think the Raptors have to be feeling better about Lowry’s status now than they were in the winter months.
So with a strong draft and seemingly no glaring holes to fill, it appears to be a paradigm shift in approach. Now they are supplementing a good, young team with a direction instead of trying to hit on a lottery ticket that could give the franchise a reason for optimism.
On Tuesday, Raptors scouting director Dan Tolzman answered some questions about the draft and the Raptors position after working out a number of players that would be second-round candidates for their two picks, Nos. 37 and 59. He did mention point guards specifically at picks No. 20 and No. 37 and said that it was an impressive workout and generally lauded the talent throughout the draft, saying that it is a great year to have three picks.
Tolzman says that being a playoff team does change the approach a little bit, in that getting immediate contributors can be more difficult because there may not be a lot of available playing time. He says the ability to a high-ceiling guy and nurture him slowly is also a realistic possibility for a team in the Raptors position.
It’s a journey, but Tolzman says they want to bring in the most talented players available. I’m keeping my eye on Canadian point guard Tyler Ennis of Syracuse. Would the Raptors feel the need to bring in a Canadian if he were there, perhaps even if he were not the highest on their board? I’ll admit, in previous years I would have expected such a contrived PR dance, but I’m not so sure now.
It’s still the 20th pick in the NBA Draft, after all, there’s no need to get too worked up.