A Change of Opinion

The auditions of Gist and other

The auditions of Gist and other "bigs" has Franchise wondering just how serious BC is about upgrading the frontcourt...

Late yesterday, the Raptors announced the next set of workouts and participants, which wouldn't be occuring until Friday. This struck me as slightly odd for a couple of reasons.

First of all, looking at the calendar, there are really only two weeks left before the NBA draft. That's not a lot of time to fit in everyone you may want to see if you're Toronto.

Second, upon seeing the list of workout attendees for Friday, I was left scratching my head a bit.

Here are the players due for Friday's audition:

Darrell Arthur, Kansas - PF
Tyrone Brazelton, Western Kentucky - G
James Gist, Maryland - PF
J.J. Hickson, NC State - PF
DeMarcus Nelson, Duke - G
David Padgett, Louisville - PF/C

Anyone else starting to think that the Raptors are leaning towards taking a big with their 17th pick? And anyone else think Toronto might be making a serious play for a second rounder?

Besides DeAndre Jordan, who probably will go before 17, after Friday, the Raptors will have auditioned every notable big man outside of Roy Hibbert, Mareese Speights, Joey Dorsey and JaVale McGee! And considering how sporadic the workouts have been so far, I wouldn't be surprised if we see all four of these "bigs," perhaps even all at once, in an ACC audition before June 26.

I started to comment to this effect as a follow-up to Howland's recent post, especially since I disagreed with his take on drafting "big," only to realize that perhaps it would make a good topic for discussion and a blog post itself.

Even before the conclusion of the NBA season for the Raps, I was looking at wing prospects like Bill Walker, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Brandon Rush, and Russell Westbrook with keen interest. I just wasn't so bullish on most of the bigs.

But this latest set of auditionees has me rethinking things. Could BC be tipping his hand? Is he looking to include Rasho's contract in a deal to improve at the 3 and therefore looking at each and every big man possible? Hickson, Arthur and Gist are hardly pure 5's, but each, as we'll discuss later this week, has a good deal of upside in terms of presence in the paint.

Even if BC isn't tipping his hand in terms of dealing Rasho, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Toronto needs help beside CB4, and it also doesn't take a quantum physicist to figure out that at some point, the Raptors need to replace Nesterovic...whether Bargs takes over at the 5 or not. Hump might be ok in spot minutes, but he's not a 5 and sometimes doesn't even play like a 4.

So is going big at 17 the right way to go?

Even after watching most of these players play numerous times last year, it's hard to say one way or another. And of course a lot of this depends on just who's left standing when David Stern finishes announcing the 16th pick.

The other piece of this is that maybe Toronto isn't even going to go big at 17, but will look to get back into the second round for a "big." That would probably explain why the Raptors have brought in a large amount of second round talent.

Take Friday's planned workouts for example; outside of perhaps Arthur, the rest of the troop is borderline first round and even second round talent. So maybe instead of going big at 17, what BC is really looking to do is get a feel for as many big men as possible so that if one he likes drops into the second round, the Legomaster can try to scoop him up.

Whether it's first or second round though, I think I am starting to join Howland's line of thought on this one.

It just seems strange to me that we've seen most of the top big men from college yet 3's like Joe Alexander, Chase Budinger, Donte Green and Kyle Weaver have yet to be mentioned. (And that's not even taking some of the internationals like Batum and Gallinari into account.)

Hopefully Toronto gets a look at some of these players (and hopefully we at the HQ do as well) and perhaps starting next week we'll see the Raptors start to bring in some of the mid-first-round prospects who have been MIA.

After all, what exactly is "business as usual" during draft time? Just because Colangelo isn't packing in workouts like his predecessor did during the Villanueva/Graham draft, doesn't mean they haven't done their homework.

Yes, that old "quality versus quantity thing."

And considering some of Rob Babcock's draft decisions, maybe that's not such a bad approach, whether it means drafting a "big" or not...

FRANCHISE

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