The city of Toronto has not been a haven for powerhouses as it pertains to the world of professional sports. It has been roughly five decades since the Toronto Maple Leafs, once royalty among National Hockey League franchises, competed for and won a Stanley Cup, and the current Leafs do not appear to be close to hoisting that famous trophy anytime soon. The Toronto Blue Jays last won a pennant and a World Series in 1993, and, while the Jays have not been awful as of late, they have not been able to make a return to the MLB mountaintop. Major League Soccer side Toronto FC has tried to fix the club's woes via multiple big-name signings, but those signings have not yet won the team a meaningful title.
Then, there are the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association. The Raptors have been as entertaining as they have been frustrating for fans of the club over the years, as there have been multiple times when it seemed as if the Raptors were ready to take that next step only before the club ultimately fell short of its goal. One reason that the Raptors have been able to draw attention from local fans and from the media is that the team has a history of drafting well. Chris Bosh, DeMar DeRozan and Tracy McGrady are just three examples of solid draft decisions made by Toronto.
Like every NBA team, though, the Raptors have also been responsible for more than a few draft miscues over the years. Truth be told, the Raptors made what some have referred to as one of the worst overall draft picks in NBA history back in 2004. Rather than selecting a man who was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2015 NBA Finals, the Raptors drafted a player that fans of the team would rather just forget. That player must have impressed the Toronto front office with his size, because one would struggle to come up redeeming qualities about the man's attributes as a competitor on the court.
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15 Jonas Valanciunas
We can envision some Toronto fans turning red with rage before pointing out that Jonas Valanciunas has, as of the posting of this piece, performed well in the 2016 NBA Playoffs. That's fine and all, but remember that the Raptors drafted Valanciunas with the fifth pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. Players such as Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler were all selected in that same draft class after Valanciunas. Truth be told, the Raptors could have possibly traded this pick and then put themselves in a position where the club could have acquired two of the previously mentioned talents.
14 Albert Miralles
The Raptors did not give up much of anything to acquire Albert Miralles in the second round of the 2004 NBA Draft. In fact, the club traded Miralles away before he was able to do any good/harm for the club. Trevor Ariza may not be your cup of tea for whatever reasons, but Ariza is a NBA Champion. That is something that Miralles will likely never be able to say. Ariza, who was taken off of the draft board a few picks after the Raptors selected Miralles, has bounced around the NBA, and we can only wonder what would have been had Toronto taken him instead of Miralles.
13 DeAndre Daniels
DeAndre Daniels is one of several examples of players who could, in time, play himself off of a list of draft mistakes made by the Raptors. The 24-year-old who was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft was hoping to make the Toronto squad for the 2015-16 season, but he suffered a fracture in his right foot before the start of the campaign. That injury made Daniels a non-factor for the NBA team this past season. There is still time for Daniels to prove his worth to the Raptors, but there are, as of May 2016, a plethora of players who could have been selected over Daniels who have featured in NBA games for other sides.
12 Jimmy King
Jimmy King is mostly known for being part of the Michigan Wolverines team referred to as "The Fab Five.” King's stint with the Raptors lasted only one season, and the truth of the matter is that Toronto could have gotten better value in the second round of the 1995 NBA Draft. Eric Snow was in the NBA as a player for over a decade. Fred Hoiberg never became an All-Star as a player, but he was a decent three-point shooter and a player who routinely found work in the league for ten seasons. King, on the other hand, was mostly a feature of the CBA while an active player.
11 P.J. Tucker
P.J. Tucker has gone on to have a decent pro career for himself. As it pertains to the Raptors, however, Tucker never showed that he was worthy of being taken with pick No. 35 of the 2006 NBA Draft. Toronto did not even wait an entire year to move on from Tucker, as the club dealt him during the winter of 2007. Paul Millsap was still available on the board when the Raptors selected Tucker. Perhaps, had things gone differently, Millsap would be playing for Toronto in the 2016 NBA Playoffs. Millsap has, as of the 2016 season, been named to three All-Star squads.
10 Remon van de Hare
We are going to be honest and say that we are including Remon van de Hare in this piece of draft mistakes made by the Raptors largely because we just like his name. Van de Hare was nothing of merit as a member of the Raptors or in the NBA, but Toronto managed to grab him in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft when there was not a wealth of talent on overall draft boards. Brandon Hunter and Andreas Glyniadakis are two players who went after Van de Hare in the '03 NBA Draft who you may recognize. What is unlucky here for the Raptors is that Kyle Korver was taken a pick before the Raptors drafted Van de Hare.
9 Bruno Caboclo
We are not here to pile on a young man who has not yet had an adequate chance to prove himself in the NBA. Besides, it was known when the Raptors selected Bruno Caboclo with pick No. 20 of the 2014 NBA Draft that Caboclo would be a project who would need at least a couple of years before he was ready to go in the NBA. Maybe, just maybe, Caboclo will prove himself to be a star for the Raptors, and thus we will all be able to look back at this and have a laugh. Caboclo received his first ever start for the Raptors in the spring of 2016, and expectations are that he should be ready to contribute, particularly on the defensive end of the ball, next season.
8 Tyson Wheeler
We are not going to sit here and pretend that there was so much talent in the 1998 NBA Draft that the Raptors could have done better with the second-round pick that was used to grab Tyson Wheeler. Still, the fact that Wheeler played in a single NBA game during his career is enough to get him a shout-out on the list. For those of you who like to keep track of such numbers, Wheeler picked up four points and a pair of assists in his one and only appearance in the NBA. The best that we can say about the Wheeler pick is that the Raptors have certainly done worse in other NBA Drafts.
7 Jonathan Bender
Yes, for those of you who have forgotten, the Raptors did use the fifth pick of the 1999 NBA Draft to select Jonathan Bender. Bender was then promptly traded to the Indiana Pacers for Antonio Davis, who went on to have a decent career with the Raptors. While Bender did have one nice season for the Pacers, he is largely remembered for the knee injuries that shortened his career. Had the Raptors not made a deal and also not had Bender on the team's radar, Toronto could have drafted Wally Szczerbiak, Richard Hamilton, Shawn Marion or Jason Terry, who would've brought more than Davis in the long haul.
6 Joey Graham
As you will see over the next two portions of this piece, the 2005 NBA Draft was not at all kind to the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors used pick No. 16 of that draft to take Joey Graham, who was praised for his tremendous athleticism. Unfortunately for Graham, he never found a way to parlay that athleticism into an impressive NBA career. Graham last played in the NBA in 2011. Rather than taking Graham, the Raptors could have instead landed Danny Granger. Toronto also could have acquired David Lee, who went late in the first round but who would have been a better choice for the Raptors here.
5 Charlie Villanueva
Those who watched Charlie Villanueva earn Big East honors during his time at Connecticut probably understood why the Raptors selected him with the seventh pick of the 2005 NBA Draft. Villanueva never reached the heights of what was thought to be his potential, though, and that has been the case throughout his pro career. To date, Villanueva has played for a total of four different NBA franchises. Andrew Bynum went three picks later and while he had injury issues, he would've been a more valuable pick and might've reached his full potential in Toronto.
4 Michael Bradley
Somewhere, some fan of both the Raptors and Toronto FC are making a joke about Michael Bradley being a disappointing name for multiple Toronto clubs. The Michael Bradley who was taken by the Raptors in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft played in 173 games, but he was never the presence that he was during his college days. The Bradley pick stings for Toronto fans that much more when you consider that Toronto could have drafted Zach Randolph, who went two picks later.
3 Andrea Bargnani
The argument can, and has, been made that the Raptors did not, at the time, have a clear better choice than Andrea Bargnani when Toronto had the first overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft. That's fine, but pieces such as this one have the benefit of clear vision and a knowledge of history. The Raptors passed on LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry and even Paul Millsap when the club picked Bargnani. A memo to any and all teams when you have a first pick and are looking at such a draft class: Do whatever you can to trade down.
2 Alek Radojevic
Any NBA team would hope to grab at least a starter with a twelfth overall pick of a draft. What the Raptors received when they acquired Alek Radojevic in 1999 was an individual who spent more time on injury lists than he did on the court as a member of the club. Radojevic played a total of 15 games before his NBA career came to an end. Toronto could have used this pick on talent such as Ron Artest, who went four picks later and there is little question that he would have been a better pick for Toronto.
1 Rafael Araujo
The Raptors stunned many supposed NBA Draft experts when the club picked Rafael Araujo with the eighth selection of the 2004 draft. Toronto instead could have “reached” on Andre Iguodala, who went next, who went on to become a NBA Champion and NBA Finals MVP with the Golden State Warriors. There was, unfortunately for Toronto, little valuable about Araujo. Araujo was big, yes, but he was also slow and hardly an impact-player on the court. In the end, Araujo would play in just 139 games before he found himself out of the NBA. It is, to this day, one of the worst draft picks in NBA history.
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