My initial instinct was for Toronto to try and trade back in the draft, perhaps with the Los Angeles Lakers for the 27th and 34th picks (even though trades are not allowed in this mock draft, this was going to be my recommendation). But everything changed when Cameron Payne dropped to no. 20.
There could be significant roster turnover in Toronto this offseason. The only players under contract are Kyle Lowry, Greivis Vasquez, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, James Johnson, Bruno Caboclo, Patrick Patterson, Jonas Valanciunas and Lucas Nogueira.
They have a number of free agents (Lou Williams, Landry Fields, Amir Johnson, Chuck Hayes, Tyler Hansbrough and Greg Stiemsma) of which there is every chance none will return next season. Lou Williams may be too pricey after winning the 6th man of the year award and Amir Johnson, mostly due to the physical toll his body has acquired during his time in the NBA, appears to be a shell of his former self. Amir could still be a very serviceable PF if he would be willing to accept a lesser role at a reasonable salary. Most Toronto fans at their SB Nation site (TorontoHQ) are rather torn on what they should do with Amir.
With so much potential roster turnover there isn’t any single position of need for the Raptors so they could comfortably go for Best Player Available. Toronto already has two "projects" in Caboclo (SF) and Nogueira (C). It may be difficult to justify, at least to their fan base, drafting another "project" type player in either of these two positions. Where Toronto could use depth is at PF, especially if they don’t retain the services of Amir. Should depth be addressed through the draft or via free agency? I would lean towards the latter.
Even though they have Lowry and Vasquez at the point, they could use an infusion of young talent at the position and it would be short sighted, in my opinion, to pass up on the best player available simply because there is no immediate need at that position.
The players left in this mock draft that I could see Toronto taking a closer look at are point guards: Cameron Payne, George Lucas De Paola; Wings: R.J. Hunter, Rashad Vaughn, Rondae-Hollis Jefferson; Power forward Christian Wood and center Robert Upshaw. GLDP was arguably the player with the most upside prior to Payne’s fall in this mock draft. GLDP made sense for a number of reasons, not just his upside but now that the Raptors are getting their own D-League team he would fit well with their other two Brazilian projects. GLDP would make a lot more sense if Toronto were to trade back but at 20 he would be a reach… though Ujiri is certainly not afraid to reach on a player he believes has the highest upside.
It would be difficult to argue against Payne as being the BPA. Of the other players I mentioned, Christian Wood also has some upside but Cameron could be the PG of the future for the Raptors. Robert Upshaw would help Toronto’s defense/rebounding but with the recent discovery of a heart condition it might not be prudent to pick him so high until more is known, though this condition is likely not anything that should prevent him from playing basketball, he would be more of a role player on an NBA roster and not the BPA.
I could write a dissertation on Cameron’s abilities but I would probably be flaunting with plagiarism. Instead, I recommend reading the review at Draft Express (click here) as it does a thorough job of breaking down his strengths and weaknesses.
Needless to say, Cameron can score (though can be streaky), is very good in the P&R, a good passer with excellent court vision, able to run an offense and has the tools to be a solid defender (6’2" with a 6’7" wingspan).
*Masai Ujiri wanted to go with the relatively unknown Sri Lankan Basketball Superstar but decided his upside was WAY TOO HIGH!*
|1||T-wolves||Russscot||Karl Anthony Towns|
|2||Lakers||Rocky Mountain Way||D'Angelo Russel|
|9||Hornets||It's the LAW SON||Devin Booker|
|10||Heat||teenasty||Willie Caulie Stien|
|15||Hawks||George Karl Marx||Sam Dekker|
The_NGUYENNER and the Dallas Mavericks are on the clock.