NBA, Video, Where Are They Now? / Jan 25, 2010 / 10:15 am

Where Are They Now: Rafael Araujo

I’ll be honest, until real recently, I just haven’t given the due credit deserved to both Andrea Bargnani and the Toronto Raptors for picking him up in 2006. After watching his 22 and eight performance last night in the Raptors’ 106-105 win against the Lakers, I guess I’ve just kind of held a blind eye to the 7-foot Italian. With both Bargnani and rook DeMar DeRozan playing well this season – and yes, I know Bargnani was putting up over fifteen a game last season – it got me thinking about just how far T-Dot has come since drafting its worst player in franchise history: Rafael Araujo.

The 6-11 Brazilian out of São Paulo was Toronto’s eighth overall selection in 2004 from Brigham Young University. Let that sink in for a second: the eighth overall selection and he was a senior. That at the least – minus Sean May – should all but guarantee a solid role player in the rotation, right? Sadly for Araujo, he never really made it into any NBA rotation for much more than 12 minutes a game during his three seasons in the League. In his rookie season in 2004-05, Hoffa was only able to put up 3.3 points and 3.1 boards a game – that coming with forty-one starts. It didn’t take management long to realize the error of their ways, as they drafted another big man, Charlie Villanueva, with their Lottery pick the following season (making three Lottery big men in a row: Chris Bosh, Araujo and Villanueva).

Sure his rookie season may have been tough, but every young guy deserves a little flexibility after only one year – even if he was selected over the likes of Andre Iguodala, Andris Biedrins, Al Jefferson and Josh Smith. However, in Araujo’s second season with the Raptors, he endured more of the same. Low minutes and low production became synonymous with the Brazilian (averages of just 2.3 and 2.7 his sophomore year).

So why did Toronto draft Araujo? Well, for starters, Bryan Colangelo wasn’t affiliated with the organization yet and…well that’s all I got.

Let’s look at why Araujo might have been coveted. Araujo spent two years at junior college in Arizona before heading north to play for BYU in Provo, Utah. He did play well in a mid-major conference and was awarded Co-Player of the Year in the Mountain West as a senior in 2004. From Toronto’s POV, Hoffa had a good mid range jumper, a big body and, although he was a better fit for the international style of play, he still had the potential to improve. They wanted a complimenting big man banger to fill in the frontcourt alongside their second-year star in Bosh, and Jefferson (coming out of high school) probably seemed like too much of a reach at the number eight spot.

However, at 270 pounds, Araujo was very strong, but lacked any real athleticism or vertical on his jump – I heard a rumor* that combine officials couldn’t even slide a clipboard under Araujo when he tested for the vertical leap (*rumor may also substitute for a dream at work I had). He was a near 7-footer who not only couldn’t block shots – as evident by his .10 career blocks per game average – he simply couldn’t finish around the basket. Looking back on it six years later, it’s easy to jump on Toronto’s terrible move now, but honestly, even in 2004 it was hard to find reasons to agree with the decision.

I remember watching Araujo play at Air Force when I was a junior in high school, the same year that he was eventually drafted. All I remember was how ridiculously surprised I was that Araujo was even on the NBA’s draft radar and that Toronto must have accidentally selected the wrong Rafael Araujo; the guy was being pushed around by 6-5 and 6-6 Air Force cadets.

What is Araujo up to these days? After setting course for Russia upon being waived by the NBA in 2007, he was actually invited to the Minnesota Timberwolves training camp in the fall of 2008. After being waived in October of that same year before making the final squad, Hoffa has found basketball salvation in his native Brazil. After bouncing around the countryside – and probably gearing up for Los Olympicos in 2016 – he has landed with club Paulistano in the Brazilian premier league. A much thinner, and still much-tatted, Araujo has been playing pretty well – and in front of much more Hoffa-friendly crowds – as you can tell in the YouTube clip below.

Araujo may not have turned out like Toronto expected he would, but at least Bosh and Bargnani will have a pad to crash at in 2016. You got to take your positives where you can, right?

Who is your team’s worst draft pick since 2000?

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  • control

    Wow, Rafael looks like he’s lost 50lbs in that video there. He LOOKED big when he was in the NBA, but he played like he wasn’t even stronger than KD in his rookie year.

    This draft made me nearly cry. Is there anyone who was drafted after him in the first round who wouldn’t have been better?

  • Springz

    As a hornets fan, i’m going to have to go with Kirk Haston picked 16th in 2001.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Aron Phillips

    @control

    The only guys that I wouldn’t have wanted, who was drafted after him, were Pavel Podkolzin (No. 20) and maybe Sergei Monia (No. 23). They could have had Kevin Martin at No. 26 or Trevor Ariza at No. 43. I still wish Viktor Khryapa was in the League…

  • http://heckler@aol.com Heckler

    WHERE ARE THEY NOW:
    Stephen A. Smith?!!?………

  • control

    Aron

    I agree with you about Sergei Monia, but Pavel Podkolzin was at least 7’6. Basically the differences between Rafael and Pavel is one is 6’11 and one is 7’6, they are both slower than Yao and both don’t really have any basketball skills or endurance.

  • Guilherme

    Rafael Araújo wouldn’t even make the Olimpic squad. We have more talented players at his position. Like Varejão, Nene and Thiago Splitter(TAU Cerámica – ESP).

  • me

    so from the clip all i gathered is no one is allowed to play any defense whatsoever in brazil. was there any physical contact at any point in the clip?

  • Q

    Greg Oden. Worst pick ever.

  • Reddi Red

    Pistons + worst pick = DARKO!!!

  • TO

    Please…in Raptorland we like to not think of that moment in franchise history. Too mamy painful memories of that draft. What could have been…Iggy, Jefferson, Smith, KMart…sighs.

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    The Dubs worst pick was Patrick O’Bryant who surprisingly played for the Raps the last time I saw him.

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    Rafael Araujo actually didn’t play that bad in the olympics when Brazil faced the U.S.

  • star_bury

    Been a Raptors fan since day 1.

    Draft History includes some great, and some horrendous.

    Other not-so-good ones:

    Alexander Radojevic – 12th, over Maggette (13th), Artest (15th), Kirilenko (24th) and Ginobili (57th!!!)

    Michael Bradley – 17th, over Z-Bo (19th), Gerald Wallace (25th), Tony Parker (29th), Agent Zero (31st), Mehmet Okur (38th)

    Joey Graham – 16th, over Granger (17th) and David Lee (30th)

    We have had some great ones, including:

    Damon Stoudamire – 7th, after Bryant Reeves, before Shawn Respert and Ed O’Bannon

    T-Mac – 9th, after Van Horne, Antonio Daniels, Tony Battie, Ron Mercer, Tim Thomas and Adonal Foyle

    Jamison – 4th, traded for Vince, after Olowakandi and LaFrentz.

  • star_bury

    @ Big Shot Bob

    The Raptors didn’t pick O’Bryant. The Warriors picked him in a pretty weak year.

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    @star_bury…that’s why it says “The Dubs worst pick”

  • Message from Brazil

    I’m from Brazil and I watch Araujo plays n regular basis. He won the national champion last year with Flamengo before joins Paulistano squad.

    He makes some impact as one of our leagues best centers, but he wasnt the best player in Flamengo and it isnt the best player in Paulistano. Some solid, ordinary guys who will never get close to the NBA are playing way better than Hoffa.

    I have no idea why Hoffa was a Top 10 pick…

  • Guitar Hero

    Well…why do they call him “Hoffa”?

  • Junio Rodrigues

    Los Olimpicos? Hey dumbass, in Brazil people speak Portuguese, not Spanish, moron!

  • D A

    whackest music of all time

  • http://www.petsocietyhelp.com Pet Society Help

    He’s dominating in that league just how he dominated mid major front lines, but those pivot shoot post moves won’t fly against guys like dwight howard, KG, or nate robinson.

  • MASTER T.

    Former GM/Raptor KIller Rob Babcock was the brains behind this draft pick. Between this and the Vince Carter trade he easily set the team/organization back 5-7 years. He lasted a little over a year and half before he was kicked to the curb, and now I here he works for the TImberwolvs as a scout or Asst. GM. Other bad moves include signing Rafer Alston to a five year contract (left after one dreadful season), drafting Joey “No Game” Graham (16th) over D. Granger (17th). Between himself and Vince, Babcock may be the most hated person in T.O.

  • kicks

    Because of the pronouncing of his name by the announcers (HOFF-ael Araujo), and the fact that he simply disappeared during games productionwise.

  • sh!tfaced

    If it wasn’t for David Lee and Gallinari, bad draft picks would now be a yearly tradition for the Knicks…

  • WayneShea

    You should mention in “where is he now” that Araujo abandoned his wife and child, blamin them for his failures. Guess he thinks he’ll be a big shot now that he shippe them back to the U. S. and doesn’t even support them financially, like paying child support! What a looser. Biggest bust indeed!!!!!

  • SA_NYC

    Great article, funny anecdote about Araujo getting pushed around by Air Force players. No shock. Funny also that it took me this long to come across this…I was actually looking up Araujo now in light of the hiring today of Brian Colangelo’s replacement. Getting Hump for Araujo was the greatest steal BC ever pulled off. Hell, getting a case of beer for this guy would’ve been grand larceny. It was shocking how bad a basketball player he was.
    Mind you, this first move of BC was probably also his pinnacle…I was just posting elsewhere how much it pains me to watch Roy Hibbert cleaning up these days, since BC gave the pick that became Hibbert in the Jermaine O’Neal trade…as good as the Araujo trade was, the O’Neal one was twice as bad, ugh.