NBA franchises are usually successful thanks to one of two philosophies, and the Toronto Raptors have been no exception to these rules. Teams have either moved assets for quality talent to win now, as Toronto did in 2018 to acquire Kawhi Leonard leading to immediate success in 2019, or built through the ranks of the NBA Draft.
The Hawks were an ECF participant this season by adhering to this, and the Suns made the Finals on the back of their own young core.
This year, for the third time in history, the Raptors will select fourth overall at the NBA Draft, potentially adding a generational, franchise-improving talent.
Since 2011, when Jonas Valanciunas was drafted and then the 2013 arrival of Masai Ujiri as general manager, the Raptors have gotten it right more often than not at the NBA Draft. Still, Toronto’s management team has had some classic and monumental failures over the years that hurt the team’s on-court development.
The Raptors have gotten it right a number of times, like when they drafted a future Hall of Famer and franchise player in Chris Bosh in 2003. Still, the franchise has also gotten it wrong at the NBA Draft plenty of times.
5 times the Toronto Raptors took a bust over a star at the NBA Draft.
5. The drafting of Aleksandar Radojevic in 1999
Glen Grunwald was the Raptors’ second general manager from 1997-2003. He was responsible for overseeing some great selections by the Raptors at the NBA Draft and the team’s first three playoff appearances from 2000-2002 with head coach Butch Carter.
While he gets credit for drafting Antawn Jamison and trading him for Vince Carter at the 1998 draft, he is also responsible for the bust that was Aleksandar Radojevic. Radojevic was acquired with the 12th pick at the 1999 NBA Draft.
At picks No. 13, 16, and 24, Toronto missed out on Corey Maggette, the man formerly known as Ron Artest, and Andrei Kirilenko. Manu Ginobili went in the second round.
Aleksandar Radojevic is one of the worst picks in Toronto Raptors history.
Radojevic only played three games in a Raptors uniform, averaging 2.3 points per game. After some injuries, he would spend the next four years playing basketball in Europe in Slovenia, Germany, and Greece before the Jazz gave him another shot in the NBA. That second stint lasted just 12 games.
Even then, some 22 years ago, the management for Toronto has struggled to figure out what to do adding talent in the center position.
A quick review of the Raptors’ roster in 1998/99, right before drafting Radojevic, reveals they had four centers under contract: William Cunningham, John Thomas, Michael “Yogi” Stewart, and an aging 36-year-old Kevin Willis.