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Colangelo Identifies Five Potential Picks For Raptors

Draft Central 09 | Raptors Prepare For Unpredictable Draft | News Conference Video: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Mike Ulmer - raptors.com
June 23, 2009

Toronto Raptors president Bryan Colangelo is confident of landing one of his five favourites at Thursday’s NBA Draft.

The Raptors draft ninth and are looking at two point guards, a pair of swingmen and a small forward.

“The names at the point position are a Jrue Holiday and Jonny Flynn,” Colangelo said.

“At the wing or two guard position would be a DeMar DeRozan or a Gerald Henderson. Maybe in the same category but a little bigger would be James Johnson who has been rising on our draft board. I think it’s safe to say one of those players is going to be a Toronto Raptor unless something crazy happens.”

Holiday is a six-foot-three inch 18-year-old coming off his freshman season at UCLA. He has potential to be a lock down defensive player.

Flynn is a dynamic 19-year-old attacker who spent two years at Syracuse. DeRozan is a spectacularly athletic swingman. Just 19 and in the draft after his freshman year at USC, he is a player frequently linked to the Raptors who lack just that kind of explosiveness. Henderson played for three years at Duke and is a polished 21-year-old offensive player while 23-year-old Wake Forest star James Johnson would provide length and lift at forward.

The 2009 draft has been called a middling one with little depth after the first half dozen prospects but Colangelo feels pundits will look back and find as many as a dozen impact players.

A handful of players are generally conceded to be at the top of the group. The Los Angeles Clippers will take forward Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin. Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio may go in the top four or five or even as high as three. Hasheem Thabeet, a seven-foot-two shotblocker from Georgetown will go in the top group as will slick Arizona State forward James Harden. Anticipating that these players will be gone before the ninth pick, the Raptors have already picked the player they want. The problem iswhat if someone picks him first?

“We think there’s going to be like seven guys (on the Raptors extended list) that are going to be gone before us, but as the draft nears names starts to creep in,” Colangelo said.

There is also the matter of the Washington Wizards, holders of the fifth choice and a team widely expected to raffle away its pick.

“That’s a scenario that could change the flow of the top ten,” Colangelo said. “That’s why I think we’re going to get one of those players but it’s which one and how we are going to prioritize.”

Prioritizing was one of the themes of Colangelo’s news conference.

Colangelo said he had already had one player back for a visit and another would be coming to town prior to the draft. He said he knew who he wanted but to no one’s surprise, held the name back.

“That will remain inside,” he said. “You can even take a subset of three guys. It’s literally up in the air and it may be down to the last minute and there is a raging debate in the conference room.”

The club, he said, has about $21 million left to spend. With part of that, the Raptors are trying to sign Carlos Delfino, for whom they have already submitted a qualifying offer, and veteran Anthony Parker.

Colangelo is hopeful the Raps can continue to polish seven-footer Patrick O’Bryant and he would welcome Greek forward Giorgios Printezis, a player whose NBA rights the club owns.

“I think he would be a great piece at the right price” Colangelo said before adding that Printezis as a Greek national might garner an offer the Raptors would not be wise to match.

Colangelo has not been dissuaded since the season ended that free agent forward Shawn Marion might return.

“The indications are that he wants to be here,” Colangelo said. “The most we can really talk about is our intent to negotiate. He fits this roster and we’ll try to make it happen.”