Let the mock drafts begin

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:41 PM ET

Draft boards across the NBA are beginning to get filled with names slotted and removed, with teams contemplating moving up or down now that the draft order has been established.

Mock drafts begin to take shape because names can now begin to get pegged into holes depending on a team’s need.

The NBA draft isn’t until June 24, but the build-up is in full swing in the wake of Tuesday night’s lottery.

This weekend, the league’s annual draft combine takes place in Chicago, where this year’s class gets measured and placed under a microscope before individual workouts get arranged.

The Raptors don’t plan on inviting any candidate to town until the first week in June, but the scouting continues as does the projecting.

Assuming they stay at the No. 13 hole, the Raptors are expected to acquire a rotation piece given the depth of this year’s draft.

At the same time, you have to expect anything because anything is possible with the Raptors this off-season with so many moving pieces.

What end game results with the Chris Bosh scenario won’t be known until July — what piece, if any, the Raptors will fetch in what is likely a sign and trade remains the big unknown.

But as of today, what is known is that the Raptors hold the No. 13 slot.

In terms of need, the most obvious is front-court size.

Rasho Nesterovic has served his time, but it’s time he move on and he’ll find employment somewhere.

It just won’t be in Toronto.

Patrick O’Bryant has gone from a one-time lottery pick to a soon-to-be one-time Raptor.

Amir Johnson is a free agent, a player the Raptors covet and need, but money is tight and unless the Raptors can free up some cash, Johnson will be with another team.

That leaves Andrea Bargnani and Reggie Evans under contract. Bargnani doesn’t play big and Evans’ foot sidelined him for most of the season.

Size, as they say, does matter, and it’s a glaring weakness that needs to be addressed.

The draft presents an opportunity to fill that void, but keep in mind that bigs take time to develop in the NBA.

Next to the point position, no position in basketball requires patience than a centre.

One of the many names to be linked with the Raptors is Donatas Motiejunas, a seven-footer from Lithuania who plays professionally with Benetton Treviso in Italy.

The word on Motiejunas is that he’s highly skilled, slightly built, athletic and aggressive.

Kentucky’s Daniel Orton is considered a beast in the paint, athletic and more than willing to bang in the post.

Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside will block shots.

A year ago, the draft was dotted with point guards, but the consensus first-overall pick was a big in Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin.

This year, there are plenty of bigs, but the consensus first-overall pick is Kentucky’s John Wall, a point guard with size and a huge upside whom many feel will be chosen by Washington.

Philly, which moved into the No. 2 slot, will take and should take Ohio State’s Evan Turner.

The Nets can use a power forward to play alongside Brook Lopez and Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors is the favoured pick.

Minnesota, which has multiple first-round picks, could go big by taking DeMarcus Cousins of Kentucky or opt for an athletic wing in Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson.

One of the draft’s best athletes is Wake Forest’s Al-Farouq Aminu.

One of the appeals of projecting picks and slotting names with a team is that so much can happen.

The possibilities are endless as are the options presented to the Raptors.


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