This has been a season with a lot of low points. One of the lowest came on December 19th. Sam Mitchell was still the coach of the Raptors. They would roll into Oklahoma City for the start of a 6 game road trip that would extend through the Christmas Holidays. Raptors needed to get their road trip off to a good start after blowing a game to the Celtics and coming off a lose to the Mavs. We all know what happened. The Thunder who at the time had just 2 wins would defeat the Raptors. It was a loss that many felt was based on a total lack of effort on behalf of the Raptors. Sam Mitchell would no survive that road trip as another awful lose to Denver later in that same road trip would mark the end of his coaching run in Toronto.
Future Prospects For Raptors
Press the fast forward button and the Thunder although still struggling have what most experts would agree a solid young core and perhaps a bright future. Kevin Durant I had said should have been the number 1 pick in his draft year. I was total at the time that was crazy as Greg Oden was the choice of many. But look at it now. Durant is looking on the verge of being a break out star. Some even thought he deserved a trip to the All Star Game this year. I am not one of those who thought that. But it is clear that the Sonics now the Thunder can thank Portland for Kevin Durant. Westbrook is another talented kid. You add in a former Big East player of the year in Jeff Green it is an impressive young core. The point is Thunder fan have a lot of reasons to be optimistic when they look to the future. It makes you think what exactly do Raptor Fans have to look forward too? Andrea Bargnani has developed a bit that is something. However I would be much more excited about the prospects of a Durant or a Westbrook. You have a Superstar in Chris Bosh that many feel is on his way out the door in Chris Bosh. The Raptors just don't have a lot of young talent that people are excited about. I was very excited about Nathan Jawai and still am to a point. However his first season in the NBA has been not what anyone would have expected. If Jawai is going to develop into something or not is a real question mark. Roko Ukic has talent and shown signs of perhaps being something when all is said and done. But again still you can not be sold on him to any great degree. I am not thinking anyone would lay money Roko or Nathan becoming great NBA players. They are both second round picks and you rarely see a second rounder turn into any kind of star.
Draft Is Full Of Questions...Raptors Need An Answer
That is why in the upcoming draft which is full of question marks. Blake Griffin the number one pick projected by most is even not a lock to be a star. The Raptors need to find that young star in this draft. Some may question if there will be that guy in this draft class at all. A couple names that people have been high on fizzled in the NCAA Tournament. James Harden was a train wreck for ASU. While Gerald Henderson who I liked a lot, he was a non-factor as Duke was taken out by Villanova. Obama had it nailed. But the issue is who can you believe in when it comes to this draft? I believe in Haseem Thabeet. he is 7 foot 3 and is a great shoot blocker and rebounder. His offense has a long way to go. However what does this Raptor team need most? Defense and rebounding would be at the top of the list. However with UConn on a run in the tournament. In addition to the fact that they could face NCAA actions based on recruiting violations. Thabeet seems a lock to enter the draft and to be selected at the very least in the top 5. That would mean the Raptors would need some ping pong ball help to get him. You are probably saying the Raptors don't need a big. They need a wing man. Well at this point the Raptors need a lot of things. So no matter where they pick it should not matter, they need to take the best player on the board regardless of position. Besides if Bosh is truly to go, Bargnani could slide into the 4 spot and you have a young Thabeet as you center at a legit 7 foot 3. I truly hope Bosh remains mind you. However Bosh or no Bosh the Raptors need to get this draft right in a year where the potential to be wrong is very high.
So with that said bring on the Thunder. They may have a bright future ahead of them. The Raptors future on the other hand is very much a question mark. That is the real story beyond if the Raptors can extract revenge for an awful lose that was pretty much their own fault. Win or lose it really doesn't matter. It would be a 3 game winning streak and that has only happened 2 other times that I can recall this season. However people have moved beyond the game to game, wins and loses and are now thinking about the big picture. That big picture is a scary uncompleted mess at the moment. Can Colangelo turn it into fine art by the time he is done this off-season? That will be a question that is answered over the coming months.