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High Pick The Gain After A Season Of Pain

Related: Watch All Of Colangelo's News Conference | Ulmer: Colangelo Addresses Media With Uncertain Future Ahead | Players/Coach News Conference Video | Ulmer: Triano Hopes To Keep Teaching, Learning
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Jay Satur - raptors.com
April 18, 2011

TORONTO -- In his season-ending news conference on Monday, Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo spoke of the painful decision to fully embrace a demolition and subsequent reconstruction of his roster back in November.

"I knew at the time Jay Triano and I would be looking at a situation where we would have to check our respective egos, desires, etcetera, at the door and put the best interest of the franchise, both long-term and short-term, ahead of our own," said Colangelo. "But it was an important thing to do as we embark upon a rebuilding."

Colangelo spoke at length on Monday about the impressive strides his younger players made in terms of development and the future cap flexibility he's created with his moves since that point. But it's the addition of top-flight talent from somewhere near the top of this year's draft board that could have the most significant impact on this team's long-term fortunes. By virtue of their 22-60 record this season, that could mean a top three pick.

Based on the odds, Toronto now has a 15.6 per cent chance of landing the first pick overall, a 15.7 per cent possibility of grabbing second and roughly the same odds of standing pat in the third spot. There's also the very real possibility that a lower-lottery team jumps up and pushes the Raptors down to fourth (22.6 per cent chance), fifth (26.5 per cent) or even sixth (four per cent).

That's the good news. The bad? This draft appears to be getting shallower in terms of potential star power based on several underclassmen electing to return to their college programs. For now, it's a wait-and-see approach for Colangelo and his staff until an actual list of draft-eligible players is available.

"When the dust settles on April 28th, when we have that list of early entry candidates, I'll be able to say more [about] what's the value of that third pick," Colangelo said. "Then subsequent to that, that May 8th date, where players can still pull out and retain NCAA eligibility, that will be probably even more clear at that point what the value of the pick is."

But regardless of where the Raptors land, Colangelo isn't going to rule out anything in an attempt to leverage the pick as an asset. He was quick to cite a need for a defensive-minded centre, but doesn't feel the draft is necessarily the way to address it directly.

"I've made the point that depending on where we end up, regardless of what we have on the current roster and how we're built with ongoing commitments, I think we need to take the best available talent and let the dust settle from there," Colangelo said. "When I say that, talent equals assets. Assets equal other possibilities, whether it's improving the team, whether it's moving forward with subsequent transactions."

If Colangelo decides to keep the pick and add another rookie to the mix, Raptors fans should feel fairly confident about the addition. His track record with first-round selections has been more hit than miss, with his last two -- DeMar DeRozan (ninth in 2009) and Ed Davis (13th in 2010) -- representing two of the team's best players.