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Behind the 8 ball
Once again the lottery doesn't pay off for the Raptors
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

The Raptors were looking for a four-leaf clover but once again stepped in poison ivy.

No one would have been surprised had Raptors centre Chris Bosh scratched himself boorishly as the NBA draft lottery unfolded last night in Secaucus, N.J.

The corporate sponsor for the affair -- remember, everything in the NBA has a corporate sponsor -- was Nokia, but a better choice might have been Noxema.

Actually, when it was announced that the Raptors had secured the eighth pick in the 2004 draft, someone in the TV studio clapped. Bosh smiled, not pausing to consider if the show of approval might have been sarcastic.

To be fair, you can't really say the Raptors got screwed. From their perspective, the percentages held true.

Had there been no draft lottery and if teams simply were awarded draft picks in reverse order of where they finished in the standings, the Raptors would have wound up at No. 8. They could have moved down to No. 9, 10 or 11. Then again, they could have moved up to No. 1, 2 or 3.

Isn't this cursed Toronto franchise overdue for some good luck? The Orlando Magic, which won the lottery last night, has done so three times in 13 years. Is that fair?

The Raptors had only a 3.7% chance of winning the lottery and getting the No. 1 pick. But at some point don't you figure the ghost of James Naismith might take his eyes off the big basketball game in the sky and rig things in favour of the only NBA team situated in his home country?

No. 8 isn't terrible, but it isn't No. 1, either.

There is no LeBron James or Tim Duncan in this year's draft, which will take place on June 24 in New York. Some have said this high-schooler-heavy affair will require NBA teams to do their homework more than ever.

That homework thing can't be great news for the Raptors, who currently don't have a general manager or a coaching staff. But they do have an interim GM -- Jack McCloskey -- and a full complement of scouts, so they're going to have to make the best of things if no new GM is in place.

Here are some of the players who likely will be in the Raptors' wheelhouse, barring a trade:

* Devin Harris, 6-foot-3 guard, Wisconsin: Can create his own shot and is a good distributor.

* Ben Gordon, 6-foot-2 guard, Connecticut: Is he a point man or a shooting guard? Either way, he may be gone by No. 8.

* Andre Iguodala, 6-foot-6 guard/forward, Arizona: A good rebounder, which is something the Raptors don't do well.

* Jameer Nelson, 6-foot guard, St. Joe's: A good leader, but size is an issue.

* Sebastian Telfair, 5-foot-11 guard, New York high school: Intriguing because of his youth and potential, but he's short.

* Josh Childress, 6-foot-7 forward, Stanford: Fairly versatile, but he doesn't address any of the Raptors' specific needs.

* Josh Smith, 6-foot-8 forward, Georgia high school: A questionable work ethic and inconsistency are concerns.

* J.R. Smith, 6-foot-5 guard, New Jersey high school. Very athletic and his height makes him even more attractive.

So let the in-depth evaluation begin.

This is the second year in a row the Raptors have taken part in the draft lottery, which is a grandiose consolation prize for teams that don't make the playoffs. Some clubs, like the Los Angeles Clippers, can set their watches by their annual springtime excursion to the home of Tony Soprano. Draft-lottery folks greet Clippers officials as if they were Norm from Cheers.

The Raptors obviously don't want to get that familiar with Secaucus. But the best way to avoid being back in the swamp next year is to make a great draft pick this year.

What are the chances of that happening?

Hopefully better than 3.7%.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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