What If Week: Reviewing Toronto’s picks in the Great Re-Draft Experiment of the mid-2010s

0
42


When you think about it, it’s amazing the NBA Draft tends to run as smoothly as it does. There are so many moving parts, so many temperaments to consider, so much stuff going on. In that light, it seems well and truly insane to consider the latest SB Nation NBA What If Week idea to run three NBA Drafts — at the same time. Why would we do such a thing? What would it accomplish? What would we even learn?

Well, we here at Raptors HQ can answer that last question. We learned that NBA drafts are hard to do.

So here’s what happened. While the great war of three concurrent NBA re-drafts from the years 2014 to 2016 was being waged in our inbox, the tracking spreadsheet that was organizing it all kept being updated to include picks made on behalf of the Toronto Raptors — by Raptors HQ. As you can see on the byline, both Daniel and Sean were interested in being involved in the events of these three re-drafts. But here’s what happened instead: after (in our defense: apparently) cajoling us to take our turn, SB Nation’s NBA Manager Seth Pollack stepped in to make Toronto’s picks, the tracking sheet got updated accordingly, Daniel assumed Sean was making said picks, and Sean figured someone would eventually tell him when it was indeed his turn to — you guessed it — make the picks. In short: no one was happy with the outcome.

Nevertheless, here we are. The 2014, 2015, and 2016 NBA Drafts have been torn up and re-drafted. Everyone involved looks like a genius — except we here at Raptors HQ. In that spirit, we’re re-drafting the results of the re-draft with another re-draft undertaken by both Daniel and Sean.

Here are those results — of the drafts, the re-drafts, the re-re-drafts, and, as you’ll see, the re-re-re-drafts. Enjoy.

2014 Re-Draft

Actual Pick: Bruno Caboclo. A swing-and-miss pick by Masai Ujiri, and one of the few selections the Raptors would probably take back if they could.

HQ’s Pick: Elfrid Payton. Given how the re-draft went, we understand some of the thinking here. Other names available at no. 20: Dante Exum, Maxi Kleber, Kyle Anderson. If nothing else, Payton has better hair than all of them — a point in his favour.

Reynolds’ Pick: Doug McDermott. The reason for this choice is obvious. An NBA team in the modern era can never have enough shooting. And if Doug McBuckets is in Toronto, then we don’t have to spend the next six years being tortured by his random domination of the Raptors.

Woodley’s Pick: Thanasis Antetokounmpo. A year removed from failing to trade up to draft Giannis, Masai tried to get the next Giannis in Bruno. On the re-do, I can see Ujiri sowing seeds of tampering seven years out from the better Antetokounmpo’s free agency. “Thanasis, be sure to tell your brother how much you enjoyed Anestis Taverna,” he’d say.

2015 Re-Draft

Actual Pick: Delon Wright. A much-loved Raptor who topped out as a steady rotation piece and something of an 82-game player (rather than a 16-game stand-out).

HQ’s Pick: Willie Cauley-Stein. Even knowing Delon’s ceiling in retrospect, this pick feels egregious. Maybe WCS finds himself under the tutelage of Toronto’s player development system. But also, uh, he probably doesn’t.

Reynolds’ Pick: Delon Wright. The safe pick, but come on, we all love Delon!

Woodley’s Pick: Delon Wright. You might say simply choosing the same guy the Raptors picked at the time, Delon Wright, is a boring way to approach this exercise. Counterpoint: Delon Wright is one of the least boring players in the whole league. I don’t want to be too mean to the folks who opted for humps like Frank Kaminsky or Bobby Portis in lieu of taking Wright higher up in the re-draft, because those people have already been mean to themselves. Is he the most talented or consistent Raptor ever? Absolutely not. He was, however, the dude who most often made you say things like “Whoa” and “That was tight” and “How the hell did he do that?” Wright was the correct selection here in 2015, and he was in this re-do as well.

2016 Re-Draft

Actual Pick: Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam. Best friends for life — oh, and Siakam now plays at the level of a top three pick. Hard to replace that real-life success story.

HQ’s Pick: Caris LaVert and Skal Labissiere. LaVert has some big-time ability and is cut from a similar cloth as Toronto’s current guards. Skal, meanwhile, sure is big. (Remind us to ask Seth why he was hellbent on sticking the Raptors with the Kings’ overall draft strategy.)

Reynolds’ Pick: Fred VanVleet and… Patrick McCaw? We don’t have to replace VanVleet with LaVert when, hey, VanVleet is still available to take with the ninth pick. Let’s just go with VanVleet. He rocks. As for the second pick, well, let’s just say: it really is wild the Raptors got Siakam at number 27.

Woodley’s Pick: Fred VanVleet and Timothé Luwawu Cabarrot. LeVert is certainly talented, and with improved health may be the better player than VanVleet over the next five years. But with the knowledge that VanVleet’s absurd heater in the back half of last year’s playoffs is a thing that happens, how do you not take VanVleet here?

Luwawu-Cabarrot always felt like a Raps guy to me. Playing for the extremely cool mercenary squad Mega Leks in Serbia before coming to the league, TLC profiled as a bouncy three-and-D wing. Getting drafted into a chaotic Sixers situation did him no favours. His next teams, OKC and Chicago, aren’t exactly renowned for their development of toolsy-but-raw prospects. Given room to incubate in Toronto’s system, it feels likely that TLC would have become something much more intriguing than a soon-to-be league washout.