The Raptors are stuck… where, is a good question. The Raptors are still recovering from Chris Bosh’s escape and do not have a whole ton to show for it.
DeMarr DeRozan is a nice player, but likely not a guy you build around. Andrea Bargnani is a former number one overall pick who has not quite panned out into the next coming of Dirk Nowitzki. He is good, but not great. He does not rebound and does not defend. And he apparently wants out.
Few answers are going to come in this draft for Brian Colangelo and new head coach Dwane Casey.
Defense is going to be the new calling card for this team, and it is going to be a long road to get where the Raptors want to go. The fifth pick is going to have to be step one.
There are options here.
Jonas Valanciunas might be the best foreign prospect in the Draft but a buyout is going to keep him overseas for at least another year. Toronto wants help now. Bismack Biyombo could be an interesting pick, although it would be way to early to pick him, his defensive presence in the middle would be nice. He is just so raw, taking him this high would not be advisable.
On the guard front, Kemba Walker might fit. Although he is more of a scoring guard and does not help with the defense problem Casey is going to want to solve.
So which direction should Toronto go?
How about Jan Vesely?
Vesely is an interesting prospect and should be someone who can come in and contribute different skills to the Raptors while developing. He does not solve all of Toronto’s problems, but he might be the best player available.
Vesely is a small forward/stretch-4 who could take some minutes from Bargnani, whom the Raptors are trying to move anyway. He possesses more athleticism than the typical Europpean athlete, drawing comparisons to Andrei Kirilenko and Mike Dunleavy. His offense is still a work in progress, but there is plenty of time to improve on that and his athleticism could surprise some defenders.
He has the chance to develop into a very solid player if his offense can catch up with his athleticism. The Raptors are going to be something of an up-tempo team with all the youth on the roster, and Vesely fits in nicely. He averaged 10.3 points per game on 61.1 percent shooting, although his range does not extend out to the 3-point line. That is something he will have to develop.
Still his thunderous dunks show off how athletic he really is.
But the best part is, in Toronto, Vesely will be able to make some mistakes and learn. And he has the chance to use that athleticism to turn into a decent defensive player.
Of course, like Bargnani, he is still not a great rebounder (just 4.4 rebounds per game in the Adriatic League for Partizan Belgrade) and likely fits in at the three.
Vesely might be the best player left on the board that fits the new direction Toronto wants to go. So that is the way they will go.
Washington is on the clock with the number six pick…
Photo via DayLife.com.