Raptors to host some good players this week

- June 14th, 2010

With the NBA draft looming in a week and a half, the Raptors will be very busy this week.

An intriguing slate of players is scheduled to come in. The Raptors are in need of a big man, a dynamic scoring guard or small forward and a starting calibre point guard, so as I said in this space a few weeks ago, they are working extremely hard to add another first round pick. ESPN’s Chad Ford reports the Thunder and Nets, two teams with multiple picks are not selling, but Memphis, Minnesota and Miami could be selling.

The Raptors will bring in:

Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe. One of the top point guards in the draft, though his teammate John Wall forced him to play out of position a lot.

Texas guard Avery Bradley. Bradley hurt his ankle in a workout for the Nets, so will just visit. He has already worked out for the Raptors and the team is very high on him, even though he is not a true point guard (lacks a point guard’s vision and creativity). If Bradley lands on the Raptors, the team will need to have a creator at another spot in order to make the offence work. Hedo Turkoglu would have been a perfect fit in a starting lineup featuring Bradley, but that ship has obviously sailed.

I agree with Ford that Toronto is hoping a talented big man like Cole Aldrich, Patrick Patterson, Greg Monroe or Ekpe Udoh slips to No. 13, but if they are all gone, Bradley could be an easy choice since he and Wall are the best perimiter defenders in the draft and since he can really shoot the ball.

Kansas shooting guard Xavier Henry will also be in the mix. He will also be in this week. Henry can fill it up better than almost anybody in this draft, but doesn’t have many other strengths. He would also force the Raptors to move DeMar DeRozan to the small forward position, which to me, isn’t the worst idea in the world. DeRozan lacks the ball-handling and shooting ability of an elite two-guard and might be more suited to the three, though he’d be a tad short for the position.

Patrick Patterson: If he slips, Raptors could snatch him up but I’m not sure he’s the right fit. Patterson is a very effective scoring big man, but his defence and rebounding is merely average. That doesn’t exactly fit the need list of the Raptors. He projects to be a solid, if unspectacular starting four or first big off the bench. He is extremely unlikely to be  a bust, but similarly, there is very little chance he becomes a star.

I think they look to add another pick in the 20′s to pick up one of these guys who also will be in:

Hassan Whiteside: The Marshall big man is years away from contributing in the NBA. He needs to add at least 20 pounds before he can play centre. He has a lot of upside and led the NCAA with 5 blocks a game, but I don’t see the Raptors as a fit right now at No. 13 because with only a year left on his deal, there is no chance Bryan Colangelo takes a high upside guy who will do nothing next year.

Solomon Alabi: The tallest player in the draft, this 7-footer out of Florida State is new to the game but already an elite shot blocker. He doesn’t rebound great for his size, but he isn’t as bad in that regard as some believe. He has an excellent motor, plays extremely hard and is a high character guy. At 13, probably is a reach, but Raptors would do well to grab him later on. It is not out of the question they take him at 13, since he will contribute right away and give the team a presence at the five that it lacks. But down the line, the team might regret passing on a few guys with bigger upsides.

Paul George: Another NBA-ready guy who could be the guy for Toronto. George is huge (6-foot-9 with an almost 7-foot wingspan and the ability to play both shooting guard and small forward).  The Fresno State product is my pick to be the steal of the draft for whoever takes him. He fills the stat sheet, has a great motor and can jump out of the gym. All that is missing from his game is the ablity to handle the ball and create his own shot at an NBA-level. He is far short in those regards at the moment, because he turns the ball over far too frequently, but is worth taking because hard work can make his game complete. He is not Tracy McGrady, but he could be Danny Granger, or, at the least, Wilson Chandler. George and DeRozan, with input from a great dribbling coach, could emerge as one of the most exciting 2/3 combos in the entire NBA. George just turned 20, DeRozan is also very young.

Damion James:  The Texas senior has many admirers, as the e-mails I receive tell me.  He is yet another player in this draft who can help the Raptors. He’s another NBA-ready guy who pretty much is what he is. A solid defensive player who can help solve some of the problems Toronto has defending the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce and others. James attacks the glass and picks up steals at a high rate. He got to the line in college a lot, but I’m not sure that will carry over against much better defenders. My opinion is he’d be a great pickup later in the draft, but his offensive limitations (ball-handling rears its ugly head again, can he create his own shot?) keep me from taking him at 13. Defensively he’s a starter, no question. But offensively …

Raptor update from Chad Ford:

“Meanwhile, the Raptors are not just sitting around. Rather, Colangelo is shopping Hedo Turkoglu, Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack with an eye toward making trades before July 1.
The same source told me that a Turkoglu trade was already in the works and could happen by the draft. While the source was confident something would happen, the source didn’t disclose the potential destination(s). The Calderon and Jack discussions are moving more slowly, but over the past few days the Raptors have been pressing forward on those fronts as well. “
So that jives with what has been reported here and in the other Toronto dailies. but the news is a Turkoglu trade could be done by the draft. Knowing that Turkoglu is gone and knowing what comes back obviously helps the Raptors decide who to pick.

Categories: Basketball

Subscribe to the post

Leave a comment

 characters available