Whole lottery questions for Raptors

Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency file photo)

Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency file photo)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:11 AM ET

NEW YORK - A year ago, from the very same No. 8 spot in the NBA draft lottery the Raptors head into this year’s lottery with, the Cleveland Cavaliers jumped all the way to No. 1.

Six years ago, Bryan Colangelo, his Raptors office not even remotely assembled yet, walked into the draft with the No. 5 spot and moved all the way up to No. 1.

So it’s not impossible that the Raptors could have one of the 35 combinations of ping pong balls assigned to them drawn and land the very first selection yet again.

Possible. Just not very probable.

It’s called a lottery for a reason. The odds of moving up are slim, in the Raptors’ case just a 3.5% chance of jumping from eighth to first overall and the opportunity to land can’t-miss Kentucky star Anthony Davis.

The Raptors have just over a 12% chance of jumping into the top three. If they don’t draft there the best they will do is remain at eighth (a 70.38% chance). If they slide, they can slide no more than three places, to 11th.

Clearly the odds suggest the Raptors will remain in that 8th slot.

Proceeding with that premise, the question becomes do the Raptors hold onto the pick?

Privately, members of the Raptors management have said bringing another rookie into the fold might not be in the team’s best interests.

Already young and getting younger with the addition of last year’s fifth overall pick, Jonas Valanciunas, the thinking is the pick could be better spent packaging it with a player already on the roster and addressing one of the club’s needs with a veteran NBA player.

That might not be too popular with the segment of the Raptors fan base that wants to see the team add to it’s young talent base in what is quite obviously a deep draft.

Even selecting eighth, the Raptors would get a good young player, the operative word there being young. Look at DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis. DeRozan is just now, after three years in the league, coming into his own. He’s still learning what it takes to score on a consistent basis. Davis, drafted the year after, is that much more raw.

Now consider Valanciunas’ arrival. He’s going to need his own time to learn the league, learn the skillset necessary to compete with men who have already learned all the tricks of the trade and aren’t likely to act too charitable with the new guy on the block.

Now double that with whomever the Raptors might select with the pick they get and ask yourself how many years you are willing to wait for this team to become an NBA playoff team? Then consider how much longer it will take those young guys to grow into the kind of players that can run with those playoff-hardened vets in the latter rounds of the playoffs.

The core of the team barring trades will be 26-year-old Andrea Bargnani, 22-year-old DeRozan, 22-year-old Davis and a 20-year-old Valanciunas.

Jose Calderon brings a solid dose of veteran savvy to the floor but even Calderon has only been to the playoffs twice in his career and never past the first round.

As much as another young gun would be great to add, the Raptors need some veteran leadership that can lead in the dressing room as well as on the floor. Rasual Butler, Anthony Carter and Jamaal Magloire all served a purpose but undeniably little of it came on game day.

Now obviously if the Raptors get extremely lucky and find themselves with one of the top three picks, all bets are off.

Trading a top three pick would be decidedly tougher than the eighth or ninth selection.

But keep in mind the Raptors have a better chance of falling to nine at the draft lottery (16.5 %) than they do landing in the top three (12.32%).

Were they to trade it, the pick alone would get the Raptors something in return but the kind of veteran presence that can still play today’s NBA schedule would likely require the pick and someone off the roster.

So consider the draft lottery tomorrow night just the first step in the process. Dealing the pick or identifying how they would use it would obviously follow.

And if they really were going to use it, wouldn’t you think they would be conducting workouts already as is the case with the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets, just to name a couple?


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