June 28, 2012
Barnes clearly not meant to be Raptors' draft pick
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
Don’t like the Raptors selection at No. 8 in the NBA draft?
Blame Andre Drummond.
Oh and the coin flip too. Don’t forget that. The Raptors came within a successful coin flip of landing Harrison Barnes. Alas, the flip went the Golden State Warriors way as did Barnes and the Raptors had to settle for Plan B.
Plan B was a guy named Terrence Ross, the proverbial who dat guy.
But had someone, anyone taken Drummond, the University of Connecticut big man with the 12-foot wing span (OK, that was an exaggeration), Barnes would have been sitting there for them.
Twitter blew up with people questioning the Raptors sanity as soon as the pick was made.
But in the Raptors war room Ross was Plan B all along.
The Raptors knew there was a very real possibility Barnes, Damian Lillard (No. 6 to Portland) and Dion Waiters (No. 4 to Cleveland) would all be gone by the time they picked and in that event Ross was the pick.
“You have to take who is available and he was the next guy on our list,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “We are really high on him. Terrence is an excellent shooter, an excellent athlete, a great full-court runner and the one thing about him, he gets after it defensively for a young kid.”
Ross was among that group of six athletes who were in the first day the Raptors hosted workouts. He was overshadowed somewhat by North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall and then later in the day by Damian Lillard who conducted his workout solo.
But he caught Casey and GM Bryan Colangelo’s eye nonetheless.
First and foremost, Ross can shoot the rock and that’s what sold the Raptors on him.
“We need shooters. We need shooting wing-runners. His ability to defend fits into it a lot but I think we put a higher premium on his shooting ability. Out of all the guys who were still available on the board, he is a kid who can get his shot off.”
Sure Austin Rivers or Drummond would have been a much sexier pick. It might even have kept the a large portion of the Raptor fan base from that headache they got from the two minutes they spent shaking their heads after the pick.
There is no question this is not a popular pick, but according to Casey it was the right one for the Raptors as they are currently constructed.
“You can never get too many shooters,” Casey said. “I consider DeMar (DeRozan) a scorer. (Ross) is more a shooter. DeMar is one of our primary scorers and this will not affect him at all. This kid is a wing runner, get his shot up in transition, maybe a quick pin down, a different type of scorer than what we have. For me we can not get enough shooters this year for our team.”
And that shooting skill is NBA ready now. The Raptors will not have to wait on that part of his game.
“Would you start him in the NBA right now? No,” said Casey, “but you would feel comfortable running a pick ‘n roll, set up, catch and shoot (for him). He can make a shot so I feel very comfortable in that. Like most kids he has a lot to learn about the NBA game but he has one skill that transfers and carries over to all levels of basketball and that’s shooting.”
Addressing the decision to bypass Rivers, Casey said that was more one of fit.
“For what we have as far as with the basketball, he’s a point guard who has to have the ball in his hands,” Casey said. “We felt like we still needed shooters. Austin will be an excellent NBA player but his kid is more of an accomplished shooter than Austin right now.”
Bottom line, the Raptors made the pick they felt could help them most right. But it’s also going to be a pick they take a hit for from the public until Ross starts to make some shots for them.
The Boston Celtics had an opportunity to take the all injured, all sliding draft pick tandem with the 21st and 22nd picks in the draft. They started it out taking Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger but then with Perry Jones III still on the board, they opted for 7-foot centre Fab Melo out of Syracuse. Jones III was still on the board at 28 when the defending NBA finalist Oklahoma City Thunder snapped him up. Sullinger slid because of a back issue. Jones apparently had a knee issue red-flagged. But the look on Jones face as he took the stage was that of a man who is just dying to prove all the naysayers wrong ... Plenty of firsts in this draft beginning with two players from the same team going one-two overall (Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, both of Kentucky). It was also the first time in NBA draft history three freshman went in the first three picks ... Not sure how much he knows, but Chris Broussard of ESPN seemed rather confident in suggesting the Raptors would be willing to amnesty Jose Calderon to put themselves in a better financial situation to go after free agent Steve Nash.