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Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 at 10:00 am  |  24 responses

Damian Lillard, No. 8 (Mock)

The Toronto Raptors obtain the #LicensetoLillard.

by Ryne Nelson / @slaman10

After four losing seasons, everyone in Toronto wants nothing less than a Playoff team.

The Raps are coming off a 23-43 season that saw some positive steps forward, but not enough to avoid missing the postseason for another year. Future centerpieces DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and even Andrea Bargnani (who had, by a spate of injuries, a spoiled breakout ’11-12 campaign) still have a lot of growing to do.

The Raptors are no doubt looking for multiple opportunities heading into the Draft, with significant upgrades at small forward and point guard as first priorities.

It’s no secret that the Raptors are willing to part with the No. 8 pick in order to acquire Andre Iguodala or Rudy Gay. Fan favorite Jose Calderon (and his expiring $10.5 million contract) is at the center of most trade speculation. A package involving Numero Ocho, the No. 8 pick and Ed Davis could possibly land an impact wing.

That said, players on rookie-scale contracts are valuable in the NBA, especially with the League’s punitive luxury tax. Trading the No. 8 pick—especially with so many NBA-ready, character guys still available—would be a crime.

Syracuse SG Dion Waiters and UConn SG Jeremy Lamb can light it up, and the Raptors need a scorer. Both talented scoring guards are certainly on the radar, but the team is still far from making promises.

Both Lamb and Waiters made questionable moves at the Pre-Draft Combine. Waiters blew off the combine altogether, as well as his interview with the Raptors. Lamb bailed on the on-court portion, and his passivity carried over to the interviews as well.

Perry Jones III is another consideration with his length and athleticism, but he’s a project who needs time to develop. Toronto needs more of an immediate impact.

Austin Rivers is a skilled 2-guard and a deadly scorer, but his average decision-making and sometimes poor attitude aren’t qualities that fit the team.

All of which leads us to a humble and hungry Oakland point guard who has been on Toronto’s radar from the jump.

With the eighth pick in the 2012 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Toronto Raptors select…

Damian Lillard from Weber State.

First featured on SLAMonline in February, the Weber State PG finished his redshirt junior campaign second in the NCAA in scoring at 24.5 ppg. He’s an extremely efficient shooter, who connected on 41 percent of his attempts from the beyond the arc.

He’s also a terrific rebounder (5 rpg) for his size and takes care of the ball well—ranking first among point guard prospects in turnovers per possession. Lillard is extremely explosive (40-inch vertical) and drives well in either direction, which helped him get to the free-throw line (where he knocked down the second most FTs in NCAA at a 90 percent clip).

The two-time Big Sky POY says he hears the question often: “Do you think you’re a 2-guard?”

His answer: “No,” adding that he wants to run an offense—not “just to push the ball up the floor, but run NBA sets.”

But Lillard’s work ethic is possibly his the most impressive quality. It’s hard to get him out of the gym and was incredible shape at the Pre-Draft Combine.

“I’m from Oakland. Gary Payton was that kind of person, really competitive,” the 6-2, 190-pound Lillard said. “Jason Kidd, Brian Shaw. I feel I have to bring that same thing to the table as an Oakland point guard. I want to compete and I feel I still have to prove myself playing against higher lever guys and I’m happy to have the opportunity.”

Lillard may not be a Gary Payton or Jason Kidd, but some see an athletic Chauncey Billups as a best-case NBA comparison.

The Raptors are looking for a PG of the future. It’s clear that player is neither Calderon nor Jerryd Bayless (he missed over half the season due to injury and failed to prove much when healthy). Lillard could down hold the starting position for the next decade.

Regardless of how his potential plays out, Lillard’s excited about the possibility of becoming Toronto’s only first-round PG selection since Mighty Mouse, tweeting, “Heard toronto is a nice place. We shall see!”

2012 SLAMonline Mock Draft
Pick Team Player Pick Team Player
1 Hornets Anthony Davis 16 Rockets  
2 Bobcats Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 17 Mavs  
3 Wizards Brad Beal 18 TWolves  
4 Cavs Thomas Robinson 19 Magic  
5 Kings Jared Sullinger 20 Nuggets  
6 Blazers Andre Drummond 21 Celtics  
7 Warriors Harrison Barnes 22 Celtics  
8 Raptors Damian Lillard 23 Hawks  
9 Pistons   24 Cavs  
10 Hornets   25 Grizzlies  
11 Blazers   26 Pacers  
12 Bucks   27 Heat  
13 Suns   28 Thunder  
14 Rockets   29 Bulls  
15 Sixers   30 Warriors  
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  • timbo slice

    being from toronto i can tell you that jose calderone is NOT a fan favourite…at least not with the hoop heads…

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    Never saw any of his games last season but a lot of people on here are very high on his game. Looking ahead I have a feeling that the Hornets will pick a PG probably the kid from UNC or Jeremy Lamb.

  • cbb_fanatic

    Please don’t make this projection. The Hornets need Lillard to go with Davis. Even though I KNOW Lillard is worthy of a high ranking, to see him paired with Davis would be phenomenal!

  • http://www.slamonline.com spit hot fiyah

    ^agreed, he would be a good fit there, specially if they can bring back gordon, that would be a potent back court. if toronto picks waiter he could be available. ryne nelson caught lamb’s interview lol

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    Haven’t seen the interview but I heard it was funny lol btw it’s crazy that he was the PG and finished second in scoring in the NCAA.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    ^ Yeah. It was tough finding weaknesses in his game.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    Hey Ryne who do I have to speak to and what do I have to do if I want to be a blogger on here? I asked Allenp but I forgot who he said I had to talk to lol

  • Ctk

    what makes him better than Bayless?…a wasted pick

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    i really think Lillard is going to be a good player in the league. idk if he’s a long term starter, but i definitely think he’ll have a long successful career.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Showtime

    Ctk the kid is far 4rm wasted pick, kid shoot @ 49% and 43% from the arch. kid is hella explosive and actually almost identically measured the same as Drose as in height/weight, wing spand and vertical jump. This type of talent just doesn’t come around often, to me he should be picked ahead of all gaurds selected including beal.

  • Ctk

    Bayless was just as dominated n Arizona …he still young ..they both combo guards with alittle point guard skills

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    @T-Ray Check your email.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    @Ctk Bayless would fit better at off-guard. Lillard is a PG who had to also be the primary scorer at Weber State.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    Thanks Ryne sent you a little sample of my writing.

  • Ctk

    u cant play Bayless at the 2 n the league n expect to win ..Raptors need a wing player who can stretch the D or a more physical post player(this is with me knowin nothing bout the kid who aint came yet from last yr)…than they need another combo guard ..love or hate Calderon he do his job for the most part

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    They can still draft Lillard and trade for a wing. Let Bayless walk or keep him as a backup.

  • Captain

    Bayless is only 23 years old. I’d like to see the Raptors try to develop him a little more before they give up. I don’t see him being a long-term solution though. They should try to develop him as a back-up or a borderline starter and trade him when his value gets high.

  • JB

    Whomever Toronto takes at this pick will leave after their first contract anyway.

  • Jamaal87

    @JB

    Douche.

  • Mack

    Calderon should be coming off the bench leading the second-unit… Anyone remember when we had TJ Ford starting and we won the division??? Start either Bayless or Lillard and watch the wins pile up, Calderon hasn’t helped the team win since he got into the starting line-up and it’s amazing that no one’s noticed this. I swear Colangelo thinks he’s John Stockton!

  • Mack

    Don’t get me wrong Jose is a great shooter and a good team leader but he’s not a starting caliber point guard if you’re looking at the playoffs. Bring him off the bench, he’d be a perfect 6th or 7th man.

  • andreanglais

    hard to deny that Oakland PG pedigree…

  • Mr. Goattree

    @Mack – hah! As a Raptors fan I love your passion, but bring Jose off the bench and “watch the wins pile up” is a bit of a stretch for this sorry squad. You know what else we are missing? Jorge Garbajosa and his healthy ankles! He’s the biggest reason that we won that division title, and the fact that the Truth didn’t have his HOF buddies in Beantown yet.

  • norry

    How many high scoring PGs that come from weak conferences have been good players at the next level?

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