A Look Back at the Raptors Draft History
The Toronto Raptors will select 23rd in the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday night. It's easy to say that DeMar DeRozan's selection at ninth overall in the 2009 Draft is the moment that sticks out most in Toronto's recent draft history, but there have been plenty of enjoyable moments along the way to the team the Raptors have assembled. Player moment is part of professional sports. Still, each of the players drafted by the Raptors — including those who are no longer with the team — are a piece of the puzzle leading to the roster the team has built today.
Below, a look back at some of Toronto's recent draft night moments:
1 - With the ninth pick in the 2009 draft, the Raptors selected DeMar DeRozan out of USC. A freshman, DeRozan was considered one of the prospects with the highest upside in his draft class. Eight years later, DeRozan is the longest-tenured player on Toronto's roster, spending much of this past season breaking franchise records and getting his name to the top of the record books.
The moment when Toronto drafted DeRozan:
Shortly after the pick was announced, DeRozan took to twitter to address the Raptors fanbase:
Toronto here I come. Air Canadas back.— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) June 26, 2009
It took just two days for DeRozan to begin understanding the support of Raptors fans:
I feel like I already been with Toronto forrever thanks to the Rapters fans. I love y'all.— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) June 27, 2009
Here, a longer look back at the 24 hours following the draft for DeRozan as he came to Toronto as a Raptors player for the first time:
2 - In 2010, the Raptors found themselves on the clock with a prospect available that they had expected to be off the draft boards. Despite not coming to Toronto for a pre-draft workout, Toronto selected Ed Davis with the 13th overall pick. When he was drafted Davis didn't have a passport.
Here's the moment where Davis was selected:
3 - The 2011 draft saw Toronto selecting Jonas Valanciunas with the fifth overall pick. Because Valanciunas was under contact in Lithuania, he didn't join the Raptors until the 2011-2012 NBA season where he joined fellow rookies Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy in getting adjusted to the NBA game:
4 - The Raptors drafted two players in the 2012 draft: Terrence Ross with the eighth overall pick, and Quincy Acy with the 37th overall pick. Ross, drafted out of Washington, was selected higher in the lottery than many had projected. He spent his first four-and-a-half seasons with Toronto being being traded to Orlando earlier this season in exchange for Serge Ibaka. Acy, a four-year senior from Baylor, spent just a season and a half with the Raptors before being sent to the Kings in a three-team trade that brought Rudy Gay to the Raptors, but made a mark with his hustle and passion. The duo joined Jonas Valanciunas to as a rookie trio in the 2012-13 season.
Acy, a second-round pick, was in the crowd with his family when the selection was made:
An interview with Ross following his selection captured the emotion not only for Ross, but for his family as well:
5 - After going without a pick in 2013 as a result of the trade that sent Kyle Lowry to Toronto, the Raptors were back on the board in 2014 with the 20th pick. The team shocked everyone when they selected little known forward Bruno Caboclo from Brazil because of a tremendous amount of upside. Though Caboclo did not attend the draft, he has one of the best draft night stories, finding out he had been selected while in the backseat of a New York City cab as his agent scrolled through Twitter:
6 - The 2015 Draft was a win for seniors. In the first round, Toronto selected Delon Wright, a senior point guard out of Utah. After a draft night trade that sent Greivis Vasquez to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Bucks selected four-year senior Norman Powell out of UCLA with the 46th pick for Toronto.
Rather than being in New York for the draft, Wright attended a party hosted by his family, including his older brother, former NBAer Dorell Wright:
Dorell tweeted following the pick:
Aaayyyyy TDot.— Dorell Wright (@DWRIGHTWAY1) June 26, 2015
Dorell's former teammate, Dwyane Wade tweeted and posted a photo of Delon from draft night and Gabrielle Union tweeted shortly before he was picked.
Like Wright, Powell spent the night with his family. Heading into the draft, Powell worked out for the Raptors and impressed everyone in attendance. He spoke with the media about his pre-draft experience following the workout where he made his mark on the Raptors front office and coaching staff:
Following Toronto's selection, Powell quickly took to Twitter to express his happiness over his dream coming true:
A day later, the sentiment was the same:
Still can't believe it. Truly blessed to have the opportunity with the Toronto Raptors. Can't wait real work begins. #MakeThemBelieve— norman powell (@npowell2404) June 26, 2015
7 - In 2016, Toronto drafted a pair of rookies with both upside and the ability to contribute almost immediately. With their lottery pick, the team selected Jakob Poeltl ninth overall, making him the first Austrian player to be selected in the draft. Poeltl was drafted out of Utah, where he was a sophomore, and had played with Wright before the team selected Wright a year earlier.
With the team's second pick, also in the first round at 27th overall, the team selected Pascal Siakam out of New Mexico State where he was a 22-year-old sophomore:
Siakam opened the season starting for the Raptors after Jared Sullinger underwent offseason surgery before eventually moving back to the bench. Both he and Poeltl worked their way into the rotation at various times of the season, a testament to both their work ethic and coach ability.
Siakam's tweet following the selection was short and sweet:
Poeltl's Instagram was much of the same:
With the 20th pick in this year's draft, what the Raptors do will be largely dependent upon what happens before it's their time to pick Masai Ujiri spoke with Toronto media on Tuesday morning, saying that the team will concentrate on finding the best possible player available at 23 when the Raptors make their selection. The most exciting part of draft night is that no one knows who that will be until the team is on the clock.