Toronto had a great year. They made the playoffs and look to be a team on the rise (or are they?). For the Usenet Draft, their GM is Butch Carter... make that Mike Andrews. Toronto received this pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Toronto selects:
This season was a break out season for the Raptors in many ways. Tracy McGrady finally broke into the starting lineup. Vince Carter rose to NBA prominence, hitting big shot after big shot in route to becoming a first team All-star. And all this lead up to the biggest break through of all, the franchises first playoff series. Despite all these strides the future for Toronto isn't that of a team on the rise. McGrady is set to leave through free agency. Head coach Butch Carter was fired. And the NBA has done little to hide the fact that they want Vince Carter in the US. All this means the Raptors could find themselves rebuilding for the second time in the 5 year existence of the franchise.
Team Draft History
CenterA true big man is one of the Raptors biggest needs, second only to a Point Guard. Michael Stewart was supposed to be the answer when Toronto signed him in 97. Stewart has struggled since joining the team. Minutes have been limited and he has yet to show the defensive skills that made him an All-Rookie second team. Antonio Davis spent much of the time at Center and played well, but at 6'9 he is best suited as a power forward. Kevin Willis also made a contribution at center but his 15 years in the league have taken there toll and retirement is a possibility. Aleksandar Radojevic is a wild card here. He missed all but three games his rookie year with a bulging disk and torn medial meniscus. If healthy Radojevic might be the answer, but I don't see it.
The Raptors have depth and toughness at this position but little in dynamic talent. Charles Oakley started every game here and brings defense, rebounding, and leadership, but little offensively. Antonio Davis is more suited to this position then center and brings all the same things Oak does plus a little more athleticism. John Thomas was an adequate back up but his contract is up this year. The Raptors would be wise to bring him back, but only if he doesn't demand big money. Sean Marks is a free agent and should be let free.
Tracy McGrady finally broke into the starting line-up last year and showed the skills that made him so highly touted out of High School. Unfortunately it may be to much to late as he's free to test the free agent waters this year and has made it clear that he doesn't intend on returning to the Raptors. This means Vince will move back to the SF position, where he belongs. But even his future in Toronto is strained. His contract expires in '02 and the NBA clearly wants Vince in a major US city. That and the loss of McGrady could mean the times of Vinsanity in Toronto could end prematurely. Toronto needs depth here as after Vince they don't have a true SF to play.
Shooting GuardWith the addition of McGrady to the lineup Vince Carter slid down to the 2 spot and proceeded to take the league over. Elected as a member of the All-NBA third team and a starting All-star. With the impending departure of McGrady, Vince will move back to the small forward spot, with Doug Christie switching back to the 2. Christie's defense and shooting are always top notch and the combination of him and a young PG could help ease the pain of loosing Tracy. Dee Brown will return as the back up here and brings veteran smarts and athleticism. Dell Curry also comes off the bench with his shooting skills and can still stretch a defense.
Point GuardClearly the teams biggest weakness. Mugsy Bogues is penciled in as the starter for next year, the key word being penciled. A journey man during the twilight of his career the 5'3 Bogues played well for the Raptors during the latter part of the season. He pesky defense and deft ball handling was more form the point then Toronto has seen since shipping Damon Stoudamire out. In today's NBA Mugsy's size is just to much of a detriment defensively for a team of Toronto's caliber to have as a starter. The Raptors should resign Bogues as he is a good back up and would make a great tutor for any young point guard they may bring in through the draft. Haywood Workman was picked up off waivers form the Bucks and played his way into a back up role, even starting two games. Haywood is a free agent this year and if the Raptors fail to draft a point then he should be back and may be the starter by the end of the year. Alvin Williams was the incumbent starter here before losing his job early on. His scoring persona may make him more suited as a shooting guard.
Head CoachThe Raptors fired head coach Butch Carter despite the fact they made there first post season. The common thought is that the Raptors brass thought this would sway McGrady to stay aboard but it doesn't look to be working. The Raptors made a great move however in signing Ex-Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens. Wilkens is a great coach and had to take the fall for the poor decision to trade for J.R Rider last year.
RC Rookie Contract t-opt Team Option P-opt Player Option
The Raptors now have there point guard. While undersized for most NBA points "Speedy" Claxton has Iverson-esque quickness and leaping ability, 40 inch vertical. He went out and proved himself in the pre-draft camps, attending everyone. He showed great decision making as well as his ability to attack the rack, twice he displayed his leaping ability with loud dunks. Not a great outside shooter but good enough to keep teams honest. Has the foot speed and hands to be a top notch defender and apply big time pressure on opposing points. His small collage experience is a question but his performance against competition in camp makes me feel he can come in and start for Toronto right away. He should help make up for the loss of McGrady's offense while providing a steady floor general.
Eric Barkley, Mateen Cleaves, Keyon Dooling - I had these three rated over Claxton but all were off the board by the time of my selection. Jamal Crawford was left off the list because he problems at Michigan worry me.
Mamadou N'Diaye - Had all the above point guards and Claxton been off the board I would have take N'Diaye to shore up the Raptors middle.
Toronto will almost certainly take whatever point guard falls to them. This then leaves center as a position they need filled. I see John Ameachi as a possible pick up via free agency. He's the low post scorer the Raptors need to go with Vince's slashing. His defensive and rebounding set backs would be lessened by the tandem of Oakley and Davis at the power forward spot. They might also want to look into moving Oakley through a trade. Oak to LA for Derek Fisher would seem to work well. LA wanted Oak a few years ago and Fisher doesn't fit Phil Jackson's system of big guards. This would allow Toronto to go after a big guy in the draft, like a Mamadou N'Diaye or Ernest Brown. A sign and trade deal involving McGrady would be great but is unlikely.
|Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner|
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