The NBA season wrapped up earlier this week and now the only thing people are talking about is the draft. It’s that time of year when the possibilities are endless and we get a major overdose of the words “upside”, “potential” and “athletic”. Workouts and interviews, teams want to know what the prospects can bring to the team on and off the court.
Every team wants to improve and most go the best player available (BPA) route, but I am convinced that the Raptors rank towards the bottom of the list when it comes to draft success. I have been following the team closely since 1997 and each year I cringe when the commissioner reads out the selection. Things started off well for the franchise with solid picks including Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby, Tracy McGrady and Antawn Jamison (that became Vince Carter). You can knock Isiah Thomas for a lot of things he did while GM of the Raptors, but drafting players is not one of them. Since then it has been more of a hit and miss affair. When Glen Grunwald came on board as the GM, he brought along Jim Kelly as the head scout. Fans of the team often express their rage on draft picks and all fingers point to Jim Kelly who remains employed by the Raptors to date under the title of Senior Director, Player Personnel.
1st round picks since inception (1995): 15
Isiah Thomas Era (1995 – 1997): Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby, Tracy McGrady
Glen Grunwald Era (1998 – 2002): Antwan Jamison (Traded-> Vince Carter*), Jonathan Bender (Traded), Aleksander Radojevic, Morris Peterson, Michael Bradley, Kareem Rush (Traded-> Chris Jefferies*) Chris Bosh
Rob Babcock Era (2003 – 2005): Rafael Araujo, Charlie Villanueva, Joey Graham
Bryan Colangelo Era (2006 – 2008): Andrea Bargnani, Roy Hibbert (Traded)
The Raptors have never picked lower than 21st in the Draft and 9 of their 1st round picks have been of the top 10 variety. All that said, the names in the list above are far from stellar and there have definitely been some questionable picks along the way. I question why the team loves to draft based on a position they need to fill rather than the BPA. I question why the team is so caught up in character they overlook the pure talent of the player. I question the method to their madness! Of their 15 picks, the Raptors have pretty much blown 5 of them…
– Jonathan Bender was traded for Antonio Davis and that worked out better for the Raptors as Bender never lived up to the hype.
– Aleksander Radojevic played all of 12 NBA games and was the first of many big man busts to don the Raptor uniform.
– Michael Bradley managed to stay in the NBA 5 years but totaled only 173 games due to perpetually being on the injured list.
– Chris Jefferies had TMac’s sleepy look with no skill to go along with it. He made it through 2 years and a total of 72 NBA games
– Rafael Araujo somehow managed to suit up for 139 NBA games but to date this pick brings out the most rage from Raptor fans.
Every single one of these picks were made when Jim Kelly has had a major role in the scouting/draft process. I know its not fair to pick him out from what is probably a team but he has been the only constant during the time in question.
2nd round picks since inception (1995): 11
Isiah Thomas Era (1995 – 1997): Jimmy King
Glen Grunwald Era (1998 – 2002): Tyson Wheeler, DeeAndre Hulett
Rob Babcock Era (2003 – 2005): Remon Van de Hare, Albert Miralles (Traded-> Pape Sow*), Roko Ukic, Uros Slokar
Bryan Colangelo Era (2006 – 2008): P.J. Tucker, Edin Bavcic (Traded), Giorgos Printezis, Nathan Jawai
Looking at these names, there is not a single player drafted in the second round who has played at least 82 games in the NBA. That in itself is pretty telling number, because even though it’s not uncommon for players drafted in the 2nd round to never make it, a 0% success rate is sad. This information on its own may not mean much, but when you look at the percentages compared to overall draft results it gives you a clearer picture.
# of 2nd round picks – not including the Raptors (1995-2008): 400
# of 2nd round picks who have played** in the NBA – not including the Raptors (1995-2008): 136
This shows that 34% of players picked since ’95 have played at least 82 games in the NBA. The second round of the draft is where teams take that stab in the dark and the players picked are raw experiments, or as of late, cap decisions. Bleacher Report and Hoop Doctors have covered the topic of some of the best players to come out of the 2nd round.
This information may seem like a loose end but I will be back later in the week with part 2 of this series to tie it in with players who were passed on by the Raptors. Part 3 of this series will involve comparing the draft success of teams who have enjoyed a similar level of success to the Raptors over the past 15 years.
(*) Statistics of player acquired were used for this analysis
(**) Must have played at least 82 games to qualify
All data was collected from NBA & Basketball-Reference