The Toronto Raptors find themselves near the top of the board ahead of the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery after losing Chris Bosh to free agency a year ago. The Raptors finished with the third worst record in the NBA this season at 22-60; that means that Toronto has a 15.6 percent chance to win the No. 1 pick in Tuesday's lottery. The Raptors can fall no further than No. 6; there's roughly an equal probability that the Raptors will land in the top three as the 4-5-6 range.
The Raptors have needs all over the board. They have a solid young two-guard in DeMar DeRozan, and used their lottery pick in 2010 on a power forward, promising Ed Davis. Andrea Bargnani, a center in name only, is the team's highest-paid player, and the front office seems to love him. (Beats me, too.)
The biggest need is at point guard; if Toronto can be convinced to either make Bargnani a power forward or replace him, center is a hole, too. The small forward spot has palatable players on the roster (Linas Kleiza, Sonny Weems), but the Raptors could definitely use a star-level prospect there.
It's got to be Kyrie Irving if the Raptors come away with the No. 1 pick. Jose Calderon has proven to be only passable, and Jerryd Bayless wasn't able to yank away the job in an otherwise lost season for Toronto. Derrick Williams could fill a need at forward -- either at the three or as an immediate starter next to Bargnani, but rebounding would be a major concern going forward. (Williams projects as a fair rebounder, but so long as Bargnani is a center, the Raps need a Reggie Evans next to him. Even that hasn't worked.)
If something changes and Toronto looks to go big despite Bargnani's presence, Jonas Valanciunas would be a nice draw. He certainly fits the European style Bryan Colangelo seeks by, uh, being European. Donatas Motiejunas might actually be more Toronto's speed, but Raptors fans might revolt if the team picks up another tall shooter.
The Raptors have five top-five picks in their short history, the last of which was Bargnani, the No. 1 pick in 2006. Toronto had the fifth-worst record in the NBA before winning that lottery. In 2003, the Raptors had the third-worst record in the league, as they do this time around. Toronto ended up with the No. 4 pick in the LeBron James draft; the Raptors landed Bosh, a nice pull. (No. 4 in the 2011 draft will not be so rewarding.)
For more on Toronto's draft and offseason, visit Raptors HQ.