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Toronto Raptors

Jason Able is the Net GM for the Toronto Raptors.  Jason selects:

Pavel Podkolzin, C, 7'4" Russia

I - Season Recap

One word sums up the entire 2002-03 season for the Toronto Raptors: INJURIES. The revolving door leading to the Raptors sick bay never stopped moving as almost every player on the team missed a significant amount of time on the court due to injury and the team set a league season record for the number of combined games missed due to injury.

Only Mo Peterson somehow managed to avoid visiting the IR. The league even allowed the team to carry an extra 3 players on the roster for a few games so they could fulfill the minimum roster requirement for each game. To say the season was one to forget would be an understatement. The only silver lining in this dark cloud of a season was the Raptors' hope that they would land one of the top 3 "franchise" picks in this year's draft. True to form, their luck did not improve much at the lottery and they dropped one slot and now likely have no shot at selecting one of the supposed "sure things" in this year's draft class. Looking at the bright side, at least they aren't the Clippers, and it seems that things can only get better from here. If you believe in karma, something good has to happen to this team eventually!

II - Salaries and Contracts






2002-03 salary

Total contract

Signed through

Antonio Davis


5-yr: 60.00M


Vince Carter


6-yr; 79.3M

2006-07 (p)

Alvin Williams


7-yr; 42.0M

2004-05 (p)

Jerome Williams


7-yr; 40.8M

2006-07 (p)

Lamond Murray


7-yr; 25.0M


Lindsey Hunter


7-yr; 19.0M


Eric Montross


11-yr; 17.0M


Michael Bradley


4-yr; 5.60M

2003-04 (t)

Morris Peterson


4-yr; 4.54M

2003-04 (t)

Chris Jefferies


4-yr; 5.10M

2004-05 (t)

Voshon Lenard


1-yr; 824,935M

Free agent

Mamadou N'diaye


3-yr; 2.38M

Free agent

Jelani McCoy


1-yr; 637,435

Free agent

Rafer Alston


1-yr; 612,435

Free agent

Maceo Baston


1-yr; 349,458

Free agent










III - Roster / Player Analysis

Michael Bradley F 6-10 230 Villanova '01

Improved tremendously this past season with increased playing time and therefore increased confidence. Became a real force on the boards and showed a nice touch around the basket. He is a good passer, but must work hard in the off-season to improve his shooting (especially free throws!). Has good fundamentals, but still lacks the aggressive "killer instinct" he'll need to succeed as an above average power forward in the NBA for the next 10 or so years.

Vince Carter G/F 6-6 225 North Carolina '99

Still considered the "franchise" player. Injuries have knocked him off the list of top 10 players in the league, but he still has the ability to get back to the top...all it will take is some determination and a couple of healthy knees. He showed last year that he is ready to take on a greater leadership role, which is definitely a positive as he looks to get his career back on track.

Antonio Davis F/C 6-9 230 Texas-El Paso '90

Another player that had a disappointing year due to injuries. He is the heart and soul of this current Raptors team, and he still regularly contributes his 12-15 points and 10-12 boards a night. If the Raptors fall out of the race early next season, look for him to possibly be traded to a playoff team willing to take on his huge salary.

Eric Montross C 7-0 270 North Carolina '94

The season was a complete write-off for him and his career could be in jeopardy if his foot doesn't heal soon. Solid contributor when healthy, but he has already reached his peak as an NBA player.

Lamond Murray SF 6-7 235 California '94

Like Montross, Murray never even touched the floor for one regular season game last season. He was coming off his best year as a Cav before being traded to the Raptors and there is no reason to believe he can't get back to producing 15 to 20 points per game while providing a solid 2nd scoring option to take some pressure off Vince. His defense is weak and he apparently has an attitude problem (he was stuck in Clipper land for a few years, and moving to the Cavs wasn't much of an improvement) but he might finally shake that rep if he manages to find himself in a winning atmosphere.

Morris Peterson F/G 6-7 218 Michigan State '00

Mo's has not improved his game much over the past couple of seasons and it looks like he might have already hit his peak. He doesn't always have the smartest shot selection, but his defense has improved a lot and he can still be counted on to provide solid scoring numbers on most nights, although he is still wildly inconsistent. A prime candidate for an off-season trade for some help at either C or PG (depending on who the Raps draft).

Alvin Williams G 6-5 185 Villanova '97

The Raptors starting PG is a real warrior and also the best perimeter defender on the team. Not a true PG, but he does manage to get the job done and never gives anything less than 100% effort. Will never be a star, but he can always be counted on to play his role effectively and he is not afraid to take the big shot when it is needed.

Jerome Williams F 6-9 225 Georgetown '96

Last season was his best with the Raptors. Thrives more as an energetic player off the bench, but he had to be used extensively as a starter for most of the year to compensate for the various injuries on the team. Life Alvin, always gives 100% and is always a crowd favorite.

Linsey Hunter G 6-2 195 Jackson State '93

Backup PG that is winding down his injury prone career as a good long range shooter and solid defender, but with a questionable ability to run a team effectively. He is not the answer for this team and the Raps will look to get a younger cheaper replacement as soon as they can.

Chris Jefferies GF 6-8 225 Fresno State '02

Showed enough promise as a rookie to get increased playing time this year, but he must show more heart and intensity to really succeed in this league. A potentially great defender with enough offensive skill to be a solid scorer if he continues to work on his game.

IV - Coaching/Management

Lenny Wilkens was given the golden handshake and was shown the door (leaving with $5 million of the Raptors money still owed to him). There is currently no coach for this team, but rumor is that Kevin O'Neill (former Pistons assistant), Dwayne Casey (Sonics assistant) and Mike Woodson (former Sixers assistant) are the frontrunners.

Glen Grunwald's job is still safe for now, but this will be a make or break year for him. He has to come up with a potential star in the draft and his hand-picked coach will have to get the team back on the right track or Glen could be the one with his head on the chopping block around this time next year.

V - Previous draft picks

  • 1995 Damon Stoudamire
  • 1996 Marcus Camby
  • 1997 Tracy McGrady
  • 1998 Antawn Jamison - Traded to GS for Vince Carter
  • 1999 Jonathan Bender - Traded to Indiana for Antonio Davis
  • 1999 Aleksander Radojevic
  • 2000 Morris Peterson
  • 2001 Michael Bradley
  • 2002 Kareem Rush - Traded to Los Angeles for Chris Jefferies and Linsey Hunter

VI - Team Needs

Other than someone that is durable enough to stay off of IR for more than 5 games, I would say this team's biggest needs are still a true PG or C. Antonio is more of a PF, so getting a future star in the middle might almost make this disaster of a season seem worth it in the long run. There has never been a true all-star caliber center in this franchise's history (Camby never lived up to expectations and the Olajuwon experiment was a huge flop), but expecting that type of player out of the #4 is not unreasonable. The Raps other pressing need is for a tough defender out on the perimeter, and a floor general to run their offense effectively. They are overloaded with SG/SFs so unless a potential franchise player falls into their lap (ie. Anthony) I don't see them wasting this pick on those positions. Another strong possibility is trading this pick for some immediate help.

VII - My draft selection

Pavel Podkolzin, C, 7'4" Russia

The big question (literally) is whether you risk the 4th pick on someone that has about a 50% chance of being either the next Arvydas Sabonis or the next Gheorghe Muresan. The bottom line is that you just don't find very many skilled players over 7 feet tall, so getting a 7'5" 18 year old that already has pretty good skills and the potential for much more is worth the risk. With good coaching and time to slowly develop his game in the NBA, Pavel Podkolzin could materialize into the dominant big man this team has been waiting for since its inception. Even though he has only displayed his skills in one workout session, he apparently has shown enough to make the scouts drool just a little. I think a lot will depend on his private workout with the Raptors, but it seems that they are content with him and are willing to take on the challenge of molding him into an all-star.

He is the definition of "project", but he has a bigger upside than any of the remaining players and therefore is worth the risk.

VIII - Other Players considered

TJ Ford - Great playmaker with blazing speed and a potentially great fit for this team. His size is a negative (but that didn't hold back players like Allen Iverson or Isaiah Thomas) and his shooting is questionable. He will probably turn out to be a very solid NBA player, but he is not a sure thing (which is what the big 3 at the top are expected to be). Again, a lot will be determined during his private workout with the team, and if he blows them away he might have a chance of being selected at #4. The Raps already have a similar player in Rafer Alston, so he might have less appeal than Pavel for that reason too.

Chris Bosh - Rapidly sliding down the draft charts with an apparently poor showing during in his workouts with teams. The Raps have already failed once with a kid of similar size and skills (Camby) so they might not be willing to take that chance again. He is more likely to be the next Rashard Lewis than the next Kevin Garnett.

Chris Kaman - Fundamentally sound big man with decent athletic ability, but not as much potential as Podkolzin. Could easily turn into the next Chris Mihm (i.e. great college player that turns into an NBA role player).

Kirk Hinrich - Will likely be a very good NBA player (his skills have been compared to Steve Nash) but the #4 selection is definitely too high for him. He could be a strong possibility if the Raps trade down and end up with a pick in the 7 - 10 range instead.