The 10 Worst NBA Drafts in the Lottery Era

The calendar now reads June. In the NBA that means it’s time to crown an NBA Champion. However among the biggest of NBA nerds, it also means it’s time to get ready for the NBA draft. We’re only two weeks and a few hours away from the 2011 NBA Draft. This year, it’s preparing for the likes of Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter and Brandon Knight to join the greatest basketball league on the planet that has us basketball geeks totally psyched.

Wait, what?

By Peter Christian

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What the Toronto Raptors can do to improve this off-season

raptors dancers

Year two of the Toronto Raptors’ post-Chris Bosh re-building effort yielded a similar result as year one.  The Raps once again finished well out of the playoff picture and now enter the off-season in need of an influx in talent.  They will Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas, their 2011 first round pick, but what else can Toronto do to improve their roster and get themselves back as a relevant Eastern Conference team?

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Toronto Raptors’ Re-Building Effort Continues This Off-Season

Like we are currently seeing in the NFL, the 2011 NBA off-season is up in the air with a lockout looming.  Free agency could be delayed and completely restructured depending on the new agreement reached by the owners and players.  Still, The Sports Bank will break down all thirty NBA teams over the next six weeks to see what areas they need to address in the off-season.

The Toronto Raptors will continue their re-building, one summer after losing Chris Bosh which was a major hit on a franchise that struggles to attract marquee talent.

By: David Kay

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Turkoglu Bringing More Euro to Toronto

hedo_turkoglu

By: David Kay

In recent years, Toronto has become the “Euro” team of the NBA.  That transformation began in 2006 when the club hired former Benetton Treviso general manager Maurizi Gherardini as the first European to hold a senior management position in the league.  With his knowledge of overseas basketball, the Raptors began to stock their roster with unfamiliar names like Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Jorge Garbajosa, Carlos Delfino, and Roko Ukic.  Now, Hedo Turkoglu is continuing that trend by bringing his Turkish roots to the Raptors.

After he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Magic that would have paid him about $7.3 million, everybody expected Turkoglu to join the on-the-rise Portland Trailblazers this off-season since Orlando already moved on by trading for Vince Carter.  Once the free agency period began, Blazers head coach Nate McMillan wasted no time in courting the Turkish star and a deal between the two sides seemed imminent.  Instead, Turkoglu spurned an all but done deal with the Blazers and agreed to a five-year, $53 million with the Raptors.  This decision was reportedly made because Turkoglu and his wife preferred living in Toronto where there is a larger Turkish population.

This is a huge get for the Raptors who were desperate to land an impact wing player.  Turkoglu proved to be a go-to scorer with the Magic this past season, especially during their run to the NBA Finals.  His size and shooting ability make him a difficult match-up for opposing teams.  Combine his versatility with Bargnani’s capability to step out and knock down the three-pointer and Calderon’s three-point range, and Toronto should be one of the most dangerous outside teams in the league.

hedo-and-wife1His signing is even more crucial with the likely departure of Chris Bosh, who is entering the final year of his contract.  If the Raptors decide to trade Bosh during the season (which they are likely to do as to ensure they don’t lose him to free agency and get nothing in return), Turkoglu can help fill the massive void he would leave.  If somehow Bosh ends up staying in Toronto past this season, the Raptors suddenly have an effective one-two punch of Bosh and Turkoglu with productive players like Bargnani, Calderon, and first-round pick Demar DeRozan who is loaded with potential.

The one major down-size that results from this signing is how thin Toronto will be on their bench.  Assuming they trot out a starting five of Bargnani, Bosh, Turkoglu, DeRozan, and Calderon, their bench will consist of Reggie Evans, Patrick O’Bryant, Kris Humphries, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Nathan Jawai, Quincy Douby, Roko Ukic, and Marcus Banks.  None of those eight projected bench players averaged more than 6 points per game last season.  And by signing Turkoglu, Toronto’s cap space shrinks making it more difficult to land any other free agents to strengthen their depth.

By the way, if you are a Blazers fan, you mind as well start referring to Hedo’s wife, Banu, as Yoko Ono for breaking up what could have been the missing piece in launching Portland to contender status in the Western Conference.