Unlucky seven for Raptors

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

When it was announced last night that the Raptors had secured the No. 7 pick in the NBA draft, Matt Bonner pumped his fist in celebration.

Uh, perhaps someone should have explained to Bonner that his team, the Raptors, had not moved up.

But then again, they didn't move down, either.

Lady Luck once again gave the Raptors an indifferent shrug at the annual draft lottery in Secaucus, N.J. The Raptors came out of the proceedings exactly where they would have been slotted had there been no lottery at all.

Raptors general manager Rob Babcock had sent some Holy Water to New Jersey along with Bonner, a rookie forward who had volunteered to represent the club. But despite the result, Babcock said he is not planning to switch religions any time soon.

"I think it was successful -- we didn't drop to No. 10, which we could have done," Babcock said. "We got what we deserved, which is good."

The big winners were the Milwaukee Bucks, who parlayed a 6.3% chance into a lottery victory, moving up to No. 1 from No. 6. The Portland Trail Blazers were the only other team to move up, to No. 3 from No. 5.

At least Babcock was happy for his brother, Dave, who is the director of scouting for the Bucks.

"Maybe he'll take me to dinner during the pre-draft camp in Chicago next month," Rob Babcock said.

The Raptors have another pick in the first round, 16th overall, and two picks in the second round, at No. 41 and No. 58.

Babcock had not been hired when the Raptors took part in the lottery last year, but he was on the job for the draft. His selection of Rafael Araujo at No. 8 was controversial at the time and the scrutiny did not decrease as the Brazilian centre struggled through his rookie campaign.

Had the Raptors sent Araujo instead of Bonner to Secaucus last night, Araujo might have become the first man ever to pick up two quick fouls and have to sit out the lottery. But that's an issue for another day.

The 2005 draft will take place on June 28 and most pundits agree on the top three picks, though the order is up for debate: Andrew Bogut, a 7-foot centre from Utah; Marvin Williams, a 6-foot-9 forward from North Carolina; and Chris Paul, a 6-foot point guard from Wake Forest.

Other possible top-10 picks include Deron Williams, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Illinois; Raymond Felton, a 6-foot point guard from North Carolina; 7-foot-3 Lithuanian centre Martynas Andriuskevicius; Chris Taft, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Pittsburgh; Channing Frye, a 7-foot centre from Arizona; 6-foot-10 Spanish power forward Fran Vazquez; 6-foot-11 Brazilian power forward Tiago Splitter; and Gerald Green, a 6-foot-8 high school forward from Texas.

The Raptors will work out a series of draft-eligible players this week, with a couple of Canadians included.

On Thursday, Odessa, Ont., native Nate Doornekamp of Boston College will be one of four centres at the Air Canada Centre. On Friday Montreal's Juan Mendez, who led Niagara University to the NCAA tournament this year, will be one of four forwards on hand.

"When you're coming off a 33-win season like we are, you have needs across the board," Babcock said. "We're most likely going to be looking at the most talented player available, and hopefully at the same time we'll get someone who will address one of our needs."

Luck comes in many forms. Sometimes it smiles upon you. Sometimes you have to make your own.

The Raptors are in the latter category. As usual.


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