Ball Don't Lie - NBA

With the NBA Draft just a few days away, Ball Don't Lie has decided to weigh in with its own 2009 Mock Draft, just for shots and giggles. But since we know so little about college basketball, we called in SB Nation's team experts (and a few others) to throw their darts at the board. Let's see what sticks ...

With the ninth pick in the 2009 Ball Don't Lie NBA Mock Draft, the Toronto Raptors select ...

DeMar DeRozan: SG/SF, USC, Freshman


"Every Raptors fan knows that this team needs help on the wings. We want a slasher, an athlete, somebody who plays with aggression and doesn’t fit the Raptors’ stereotype of being a soft jump-shooter.

The two blue chip shooting guard prospects in this draft — James Harden and Tyreke Evans — are almost certain to be gone before the ninth pick in the real draft, and they didn’t even make it past the fourth pick in this mock draft as Harden went third overall to OKC and Evans was nabbed right after by Sacramento.

That leaves the Raptors in a position where they’re probably going to have to take a chance on a less polished player who has raw talent but likely won’t make a significant contribution right away. This is where DeMar DeRozan comes in.

DeRozan is certainly athletic with his 38.5-inch vertical, but the freshman is also very raw. If we’re going to be blunt, he’s a shooting guard who currently can’t shoot, dribble or play defense particularly well.

So how does this guy go ninth overall? Well, this is a weak draft and the Raptors are far enough away from contender status that they might as well take a home run swing at this slot rather than settle for a safer pick like Gerald Henderson. Besides, there’s a rich, recent history of raw, athletic players going ninth overall and blossoming into NBA stars. See: Tracy McGrady(notes), Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion(notes) and Andre Iguodala(notes).

DeRozan isn’t the safe choice at the ninth pick, but Bryan Colangelo isn’t known for playing it safe. Marion and Stoudemire were both drafted by Colangelo in Phoenix so he has a track record of taking a risk at this pick. Also, while he wasn’t here during the Vince Carter(notes) era, he’s surely aware that Toronto fans remain hungry for a player who can blow the roof off of the Air Canada Centre with his dynamic dunks.

To his credit, DeRozan is aware of the inevitable comparisons to Vince — in fact, he told Marc Berman of the New York Post that he can jump higher than VC in his prime. I don’t really believe that, but I admire his swagger. And let’s face it, no one on this corner has swagger like that."

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