Looking back on the NBA Draft night it was a night of a lot of emotions if you consider yourself a fan of both the Raptors and basketball in this country in general. Those emotions got flowing early in the night. Everyone in basketball has almost conceded that Andrew Wiggins will have his name called first at this time next year after a season at Kansas. That is in stark contrast to Anthony Bennett who some were claiming was falling in the draft got taken number one by the Cleveland Cavs. This is the second time in the past few years the Cavs have shocked Canada. Many were surprised to see Tristan Thompson now Bennett’s team-mate goes at number 4. At that point the highest a Canadian has ever been selected before last night.
Unlike Thompson it seems Bennett was as legitimately surprised as everyone else was last night. It all seems so crazy that thirty minutes or so I was complaining that women’s golf seemed to have been more important to TSN than basketball as the draft coverage was delayed by it. That fact along with the fact that the draft was relegated to TSN 2 in the first place might be part of the reason why a lot of basketball fans took so much pride in what happened with Bennett. Basketball has always been fighting for the attention it deserves in this country from the media. Times hopeful are changing as the generation that grew up on the Raptors and watching Vince Carter and others are getting old enough to make their own mark in the NBA.
The Raptors entered the night with no pick and despite the Raptors saying they would be fighting hard to get back in this draft did not. What might have made it more frustrating is another Toronto product remained on in the form of Myck Kabongo. He ended up going undrafted and many Raptors fans wanted to see the Raptors go get him in the second round. He now becomes a free agent and it would be a real slap in the face to Raptors fans if we did not see him get an invite to Summer League for the Raptors.
As most of you know I have got to know Myck through doing interviews here in the blog over the years. I fully admit to my bias towards a young man that I think the world of as a basketball player and a person. This fact laid on the table it is pretty clear the Raptors have a need at the position of point guard. When you combine that with what Raptors have been saying about wanting to be Canada’s team and that Masai Ujiri has talked about wanting to have younger players in the 12-15 spots in the rotation. It doesn’t add up and I fail to see what the Raptors lose by jumping into the late second round to select Kobongo. The price for a pick that late is extremely low. If they now go on and we do not see Kabongo with Raptors in Las Vegas it is a really blow to the creditability of this new group to me.
When you look around the Atlantic Division while the Raptors roster remains for the moment status quo it can’t be said Philadelphia or Boston. The Sixers traded Jrue Holiday to New Orleans while Boston has seen Doc Rivers move on the Clippers and now Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce heading to the Division rival Brooklyn Nets. Bottom line the first to entries in the tank fro Wiggins race have been established. The Raptors true direction remains a bit of a mystery at this point.
Speaking of the Celtics that is where the second Canadian drafted in the lottery would end up after being part of his own draft night trade. Kelly Olynck will trade in his Zags colours for some green and white and the traditional uniform of the Boston Celtics.
All this and we did not even get into the comedy that was David Stern last night as he celebrated his last NBA Draft by toying with the live audience in Brooklyn all night long as they booed him majority of the night. In a scene that was strange to anyone who is not a wrestling fan when Stern came out for his final pick to announce at the end of the first round he was cheered. There is a lot of complaining and bitching about Stern on social media but nobody can deny how he has built this league since 1984. He has done a solid job with the NBA and as he prepares to leave in February of 2014 it should be noted how much good he has truly done.
So in conclusion it was one hell of a night for Canada Basketball while it seemed a typical night for the Toronto Raptors. Don’t get me wrong the Raptors not getting a first round pick is something I consider a positive despite the fact a few players in this down draft year should have some success. The issues I have about Kabongo and the Raptors is that the risk is taking someone in the second round is far less without guaranteed contracts to worry about.
I am happy for Canada and basketball fans, Sad for a great young man in form of Myck and as always remain more than a little puzzled with the Toronto Raptors. Oh yeah and still not happy with TSN so it was a pretty typical night. Well except for the fact that Anthony Bennett becomes the answer to a question of where were you when the first Canadian to go number one was selected. If you missed it you should get the chance to say I was there to see Andrew Wiggins get drafted who may well be the best Canadian ever when it is all said and done.