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Raptors GM Colangelo happy with ninth pick in NBA draft

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The Canadian Press
5/19/2009 11:20:23 PM
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This time the Toronto Raptors left the NBA draft lottery the same way they came in, and that suits president and general manager Bryan Colangelo just fine.

The Raptors were granted the ninth overall selection in next month's NBA draft at Tuesday's lottery, which is the very pick they deserved after going 33-49 in the regular season and finishing 21st in the 30-team league.

The Los Angeles Clippers took the main prize, moving up from the third-best chance to earn the top pick. Memphis vaulted to second and Oklahoma City will pick third.

It was the first time the Raptors were in the lottery since 2006, when they did anything but stand pat. After finishing fifth-last in the league, they won the lottery and used the top pick to select Italian forward Andrea Bargnani.

Despite the lack of upward movement for the Raptors this time, Colangelo was pleased with the way things unfolded at the lottery. The Raptors had a very small chance -- 1.7 per cent -- of landing the No. 1 pick, but also could have dropped as low as 12th.

"The fact that no team behind us jumped up ahead of us I think obviously is a very positive thing," Colangelo said from Secaucus, N.J, site of the draft lottery. "Six of the seven top picks in the draft will go to Western Conference teams, another positive. Washington, which had very good odds to end up with the No. 1 selection ended up moving down three spots.

"I can't imagine a situation where the circumstances worked out more favourable other than us jumping into one of the top three spots."

Colangelo has had some luck with drafting ninth. He was GM of the Phoenix Suns when they selected Amare Stoudemire ninth in 2002 and Shawn Marion at that spot in 1999.

"I've been in this situation before," he said.

This year's draft class doesn't have an instant superstar like LeBron James, who has turned around the Cleveland Cavaliers since he went No. 1 in 2003. The consensus top three are Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio and Connecticut centre Hasheem Thabeet.

Mock drafts link the Raptors with Louisville small forward Earl Clark, USC swingman Demar DeRozan and Davidson point guard Stephen Curry -- the son of former Raptors guard Dell Curry.

The Raptors need some depth at both guard positions, and could also use a dose of toughness, especially on the defensive end.

Colangelo acknowledged the Raptors may be interested in a tougher or more defensive-minded player and said they may be able to satisfy that need with the ninth pick.

One route Colangelo doesn't seem to want to take is trading up for a better draft position.

"Unless L.A. is entertaining moving the No. 1 pick it would be tough to justify moving up," he said.

"At No. 9 it's becoming more and more apparent that we're going to get a player that we like."

Bryan Colangelo (Photo: Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
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