RaptorsHQ Exclusive - Interview with Draftexpress' Jonathan Givony - Part II

Howland: Ok, so can you give me some more info on this Tyrus Thomas bit? The whole agent thing, and having him going 7?

Givony: Well they just thought that it was a stupid move to make. I mean the day before I came in to watch him workout and all…I tried to explain that the lottery happened, and that based on team needs, that we felt there was a legit chance that he might end up slipping a little bit and they disagreed. I guess Tyrus was the one that really decided to call it off. I mean what happened after, we still talk to them, we are still on decent terms, we met up, had dinner, shook hands, said let’s let bygones by bygones and that was it. We are not going to hold any grudges against them or Tyrus Thomas. It’s water under the bridge now.

Howland: Shows how many people read your site at the end of the day.

Givony: Yeah. People do care about what’s written, which is why we have to be a little more careful than I’d like sometimes, being kind of a loose cannon by nature. I personally think that our mock draft is not really going to have a huge impact on where guys end up going, I mean General Managers have done their research, I think the mocks in November and December are more influential because it tells guys who they have to scout and it builds them up. Look at the top 6 guys on our board right now; they have been the top six guys over the last three months. Nobody would have told you that Brandon Roy is even a first round pick before the year started. We had him going late first round, I thought that was a good call on our part, and he consistently rose until he became a consensus top five pick. So I think in that regard, it helps establish who the top prospects are. Once we are into late May and the lottery happens, I am not sure how much our mock influences anyone. The Chicago Bulls are not going to look and say, “oh they only have him at 7" so we can’t take him second. I don’t think we have that kind of power at this point.

Howland: A good example of that, if the rumours are true, that Atlanta has a promise to take Shelden at 5.

Givony: Exactly. That is pretty much what everyone is saying, although I don’t buy it for a second.

Howland: Ok, so you said you would take Morrison if you had to start from scratch...and you had Bargnani at one for the Raps, and now you have them taking Morrison. What changed your mind there to do that?

Givony: Just from what we are hearing, the Toronto Raptors have no idea at this point who they are going to draft, which makes the draft so hard to predict. They are really shopping that pick pretty heavily, but their asking price is probably a little too high, so it’s hard to say what they will end up doing. I feel like there are a lot of teams that want to trade up to get Adam Morrison, which is the most realistic scenario right now, and I feel like when Adam Morrison goes in there and if they do decide to go number 1 that he is going to make them feel like he is the guy to go with. He fits their needs pretty well, he can really help them and I think he has a legit chance to go number one even if Toronto keeps the pick.

Howland: So you would say this whole Bargnani thing is a bit of a smokescreen? In all the papers up here that is all they talk about - Bargnani.

Givony: Toronto’s doing a great job of establishing that they might take him, they are setting the table for it, so it would not be a shock if it does happen. I think what he (Colangelo) is really doing, is that if they do trade down to #3 or #4, and gets a nice asset in return then he’ll look like a genius, cause he will have not only gotten the guy he would have taken at 1 but also got a great building piece so that’s making him look like an awesome GM, which he is obviously.

Howland: So Portland and Charlotte are the teams you think have the most interest in trading up for Morrison at this point?

Givony: Well there are definitely some other teams out there. I think Indiana definitely has some interest, Minnesota has some interest in him...I think there are a lot of teams that really like him...Boston in particular, even Houston or Phoenix. There are some teams looking to move up...it just depends on how high the asking price is.

Howland: Thing is on the Raps front is that we have not seen that much tape on Bargnani. He does play 20 mins or so a game, but still it’s not like NCAA.

Givony: We have a lot of tape on him. I probably have about a dozen games here, and I have watched them a lot and he has been on the radar a long time. He was at the Hoop Summit two years ago, Benetton came to Toronto to play, and anyone can watch him practice because they are so open about getting people to see him. He has been around for a while, so he isn’t as much as an unknown as most international guys usually are.

Howland: Biggest sleeper in the draft?

Givony: Would have to say Thabo Sefolosha. I don’t get where the hell everyone else has been on this kid. It’s not like he’s playing on Mars or anything. I also really like Jose Juan Barea. That’s a guy who is getting no love from a lot of people, just because he is only about 5'11'. He doesn’t have a great wingspan, but just watch him play on the court. I have very little doubt that he will have success in the NBA. Whether it is in a backup role playing 15-20 minutes, or maybe even being able to start at some point. I am very high on competitiveness and heart, and feel for the game, how smart a guy plays and I think he has it all and he is just really really skilled. He’s an amazing point guard and I am shocked that more people are not considering him in the first round...but that’s just how it works. Size, and physical attributes speak a lot more right now than skill or work ethic. That’s why someone is going to make a mistake because I really feel like he is going to be a contributor whether it is next year or a year down the road.

Howland: Who is the most over-hyped?

Givony: Bargnani. Not because he is not a great player, but just because I feel like he is a guy that in any normal draft would probably go somewhere between 5-15. He’s a guy that is not going to fit in on just any team. He has some pretty glaring weaknesses, in terms of his rebounding and his defense, and watching him on tape you get the feeling that when things are going well he’s a great player, but when things really are not going well you don’t really see that mental toughness or that great intelligence like you see in a lot of European player. Not that he is a dumb guy, but he is a little individualistic, and for all the talk of how incredible of a scorer he is, you would like to see him do some other things like passing a little bit better, rebounding, just being more of a complete all around guy. When you have someone like LaMarcus Aldridge, I don’t think there is any question as to who is the better all around player right now or especially down the road. I am just surprised that he is getting consideration for the number 1 pick, and I think he would be a great pick from 5 on down. To consider him number 1, that to me shows where we stand right now in this draft.

Howland: Now this is a debate between myself and another writer on the site, but if you had to take a point guard, who is the first guy you take?

Givony: Absolutely Marcus Williams. There is no doubt.

Howland: You guys do a lot of interviews with all kinds of players, Jay Williams etc. Who is the best guy you have talked to...a guy who will give you the straight up goods?

Givony: What’s great about this draft is that almost all of these guys are really awesome kids off the court too. That just makes things easier in terms of projecting them into the NBA. You can see it in the way that they talk that they really do want to become great basketball players. I was very very impressed by Adam Morrison. People say that he is cocky and arrogant, and I don’t see that at all, he’s just a really good guy. Ronnie Brewer impressed the heck out of me. He comes from a great family, really well spoken, and he has it all figured out.
Marcus Williams is a guy who is very charismatic, even though people like to rag on him a lot because of the lap-top issue, and sure that was a horrible decision on his part, but I think that will make him a better person down the road. Brandon Roy impressed me, Randy Foye really impressed me...Cedric Simmons is a guy who is very shy, he doesn’t really know how good he is going to be at this point...but all of them come from good families, all well spoken kids, very humble. Most of these guys are great off the court which is a huge plus in my book. About the others, its not that they aren’t great guys, but more of the fact that I haven’t spoken to them as much.

Howland: So you take Morrison over Aldridge if you are the Toronto Raptors where you have zero at centre (interview conducted prior to acquisition of Rasho)...sure Aldridge plays 4/5, but we have Charlie at 3 and we drafted Joey last year. Still Morrison?

Givony: I still take Morrison. I just think he is a sure fire guy, he’s going to be a 20 ppg scorer, maybe not in his first season but very soon. I think the Raps need to get better a lot quicker, and if you have the number one pick, you have to get some sort of return on it pretty soon, and Morrison is that guy and he is going to get a lot better down the road. He also fills a great need for the Raptors in terms of having that perimeter scorer, having a great shooter, having someone with the work ethic and the passion and coming from a winning system. The guy is just programmed to succeed and I feel like wherever he goes he will do whatever he can to win and that’s what the Raps have a need for being so young.

Howland: Let’s talk about one last guy. Is Redick going to make it in the NBA?

Givony: I think so. Redick is going to find success and he is going to be a nice third option on a team as a starter. I just look at the guy, the way he competes, skill level, and putting the ball in the basket, he is great at all those things. All the other things, defense, putting the ball on the floor and those things...he’s going to get better. He has an amazing work ethic and it’s a shame about the DUI, and his back coming out now, but it really doesn’t take away from what he did during the season and I think that he is more ready and more of a sure fire guy and anywhere between 10 and 15 he’s a steal.

Howland: Last question...obviously it depends on who goes where but who is your ROY?

Givony: Adam Morrison. It kinda depends like you said, but Morrison is the guy who wins ROY and if it is not Morrison it’s Brandon Roy just because he is going to come in and play 30 minutes a game wherever he goes. That’s a pretty safe bet there.

Howland: So you say Morrison in a Toronto Raptors uniform wins ROY?

Givony: Yes, because he actually compliments Mo Pete and Joey Graham pretty well. He’s a two guard offensively, and it’s nice to have him next to a guy like Mo Pete who can guard either the two or the three. Maybe Joey is not a great defender right now but I think he will end up figuring out how to utilize his tools to become a better defender. Morrison could play either the two or three spot for Toronto or Charlotte and he’ll have a huge impact right off the bat. I mean Amare Stoudamire had how many points when he won ROY, 13? So essentially the threshold is not always that high.

Howland: Very true. Well thanks man for taking the time to talk to us and hopefully we'll get to do this again soon!

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