Before starting with Part V of Drafting a Centre, or, How the Raptors Ended up a Donut Team, or, How Much Can I Get For This Alek Radojevic Rookie Card on eBay?, e-mailer Greg sends along the latest "Raptors Insider" promotional offer -- "Guys Night Out", including 4 upper bowl tickets, 4 hot dogs, 4 "Guys Night Out" T-shirts or toques and "4 pop" -- and has a question:
"Why is Miller Genuine Draft offering 4 pop and not 4 beers?"
Good question Greg. Because it's a "lite" promotion?, geddit? Because "4 pop" refers to everyone getting a whack over the head with a 2-by-4 -- a bit stronger than beer, for sure, but just the right kind of sedative to accompany watching these Raptors? Heck, I'd settle at game's end for four of those memory machines that Will Smith waves at Tommy Lee Jones at the end of Men in Black.
Feel free to play along at home here -- what would you offer 4 of to complete the Raptors Guys Night Out? You can't scalp the tickets, remember.
Okay, back to Drafting a Centre. First some numbers: Through the Raptors' first eight drafts, 53 centres were taken in the first round and 24 of them became starters. The ratio in the second round, where bigs are pretty much a flyer if taken at all, three starters emerged out of 57 taken. Almost twice as many never-made-its (50) than starters (27) were selected.
Now the final roll, with some threads to ponder at the bottom -- I'll pass on 2005 just gone by, because it's almost impossible to make any judgment calls at this point going back a couple of years, let alone last summer. Besides, 2004 gives us a neat end point from the Raptors standpoint.
2 Darko Milicic (Detroit) … Two years of nothing, but has upped his scoring average to 2.0 this season. Megabust, but still has believers.
6 Chris Kaman (LA Clippers) … He’s starting, and looks okay, but it is the Clippers so you never know.
27 Kendrick Perkins (Boston) … Deep backup, still young (21), maybe getting better.
Second rounders: 39 Slavko Vranes (New York -- 7-foot-6, plays in Europe); 42 Zaza Pachulia (Orlando – 15-minute guy with Hawks); 48 James Lang (New Orleans); 52 Remon Van de Hare (Toronto); 54 Nedzad Sinanovic (Portland); 57 Xue Yuyang (Dallas); 58 Andreas Gliniadakis (Detroit).
Notes: Raptors got Chris Bosh here, a pick that was preordained really at No. 4, with LeBron James, Milicic and Carmelo Anthony the clear consensus top 3. Took 7-foot-3 Remon Van de Hare – he’s on the end of the bench in Slovenia, and at 23 is one of those second-round flyers that’s going nowhere.
Scorecard: Just eight listed centres if you throw out the 7-footer Milicic, who's really a PF. It’s hard to get a read after just two seasons in the league, with Kaman the only starter among them. The second-rounders look like suspects all, but Vranes’ height means he’ll probably be over here at some point. Most notable element: just one centre (Okafor) drafted out of U.S. college ball this year.
1 Emeka Okafor (Charlotte) … Starter in Charlotte and rookie of the year
8 Rafael Araujo (Toronto) … Starter in Toronto, but only by default
12 Robert Swift (Seattle) … High schooler hardly played last year, may end up in NBDL with Araujo this year
21 Pavel Podkolzin (Dallas) … 7-foot-5 Siberian underwent brain surgery for a life-threatening pituitary tumour last year, and is out with a stress fracture this year
29 David Harrison (Indiana) … Started 14 games last year
Second rounders: 31 Jackson Vroman (Phoenix – Hornets backup now); 32 Peter John Ramos (Washington -- inactive); 46 Ha-Seung Jin (Portland -- inactive); 57 Sergei Karaulov (San Antonio).
Notes: New GM Rob Babcock decided he was going to draft for need, even if it goes against the conventional wisdom. He took Araujo as the banger to watch Chris Bosh’s back and do the dirty work. But Araujo is not quick enough for the NBA, physically or mentally and at 25 years old, he's probably not going to get better. It's a bad time to go looking for a centre, and an even worse time to be drafting one higher than anyone’s slotting him.
Scorecard: Okafor is good with Charlotte. Only nine centres taken – the NBA has changed, from a league of centres, forwards and guards to a world of “bigs” and “smalls”. What kind of a big you want or need depends on the smalls around them – take a look at the Nets, for instance, with their three all-star players and a trio of hardworking manual labourers in the middle. And if you don’t have one, you convert a PF – Stoudamire in Phoenix and Bosh here in Toronto the ’04 season’s more glaring examples. And you know Bosh will be back at centre soon.