For fans of NBA teams like the Toronto Raptors, the annual entry draft is the consolation prize for putting up with the agony of so much losing. So, on Thursday evening, 25 Raptors diehards converged on a downtown St. Louis Bar and Grill dressed in José Calderón and Jorge Garbajosa jerseys, grabbed pieces of paper to fill out their draft predictions, and tried to put the team’s woeful 2011–2012 record (23 wins, 43 losses) behind them.
For the fourth year, 38-year-old equity research analyst Tom Liston organized the event through his blog, Raptors Republic. “It’s good for the fans to share their picks and interact [in person], rather than just be on a chat,” he said. Liston researches tech companies by day, and had done his draft analysis in his spare time. When two students at his table debated who would get picked seventh overall, Liston piped in: “I don’t think Golden State is going to go for a big man.”
When the time came for the Raptors to draft eighth overall, the room was divided on whether the team should choose Austin Rivers from Duke University, Andre Drummond from the University of Connecticut, or trade the pick. When the Raptors chose the relatively unknown Terrence Ross from the University of Washington instead, the bar echoed with a chorus: “What the fuck?”
Asked about the Raptors’ selection, Liston was diplomatic. “I just don’t know enough to comment.”