With its second Friday draft preview, Franchise discusses one of his favourite players from college the past two seasons and a player he feels would be a great addition to the Toronto Raptors, West Virginia's Devin Ebanks.
Before we get into this Friday's prospect preview, a few quick thoughts on last night's Celtics win, which I believe directly impacts the Toronto Raptors.
For starters, there's a good chance of course that LeBron James now leaves the Cavs and heads to NYC, Chicago or Miami. I was fairly certain LeBron wasn't going anywhere up until the past couple of games but you can't say anything for certain now, and I think that makes a Chris Bosh departure even more likely. Had James stuck around in Cleveland, suddenly CB4's "pairing up" options were probably limited to joining Wade or going somewhere with Joe Johnson; the Cavs couldn't financially keep LeBron and take on a contract of Bosh's size without going way, way, way, over the luxury tax limit...not to mention they had only recently traded for Antawn Jamison. But now there's a very real chance that LeBron and Bosh, who share a number of relationships, from agency to celeb friends like Canadian rapper Drake, head somewhere together, a scary thought for the East.
That being said, I hope everyone who watched the game noted that once again, teams beat individuals. Yes guys like LeBron, Kobe and Wade are the definition of "max" and "franchise" players, but if the chemistry isn't there and they're not surrounded by the right players, it rarely matters...especially when playoff time rolls around. Last night I saw much of the same thing I'd seen through most of the series; a more cohesive and better-prepared Celtics team beating a Cavs' club that frankly looked unsure of itself in key moments.
You can fault LeBron, or his supporting cast.
You can take Mike Brown to task for his rotations and decisions, or Danny Ferry for failing to provide James with the help he needed.
But regardless, the better team won the series, plain and simple, and they're moving on.
And so shall we as we turn to the second in our weekly prospect series.
Today we focus in on West Virginia forward/swingman Devin Ebanks. Ebanks was a key cog in West Virginia's recent Final Four run, a long and very athletic player who was slated as a first-round pick last season as a freshman, before he opted to return to college.
We checked in with Mark Stickel from SB Nation's West Virginia blog, The Smoking Musket, and here was his take on Devin:
From my POV, Ebanks will be a solid defender/rebounder in the NBA, but needs work on the Offensive side of the ball. His mid-range jumper has been inconsistent, but that improved down the stretch and may have been attributable to an early season hand injury. His biggest strength is his great length/reach. At his best, he could harrass the top offensive types and be a lock-down defender. He's a decent ball handler for someone of his length (we counted on him bringing the ball up often, especially after we lost Bryant to injury). He still needs more muscle, which he did gain quite a bit after one year in the off-season program. I see him in the mold of a hybrid Marcus Camby
/Scottie Pippen/Dennis Rodman type player at the next level if he reaches his full potential, although not putting up their superstar numbers. I think Devin will be a solid NBA player though with tremendous potential.
Sound like someone who could be a nice addition to the Toronto Raptors?
I think so.
Right now he's slotted as a late first-round pick but I think this is a player who come workout time, will see his stock rise. Athleticism and length always seem to be at a premium in drafts and we're talking about a player who has both in spades.
However at 6-8 he's not as freakishly long as many first thought. ESPN.com's Chad Ford recently reported that with a 6-9 wingspan, he's actually in the normal range for someone with his height.
That being said, a 6-9 wingspan is still a 6-9 wingspan and for a Raptors' team desperate for some perimeter D, Ebanks could be at the least an excellent replacement for Antoine Wright
As well, I think Ebanks is one of the best "upside" picks in this draft. He seldom got to show just how great he is in the open court because West Virginia plays at one of the NCAA's slowest paces, and in the right system his offensive game could really blossom.
In fact, it's hard not to watch his game and think Trevor Ariza
. Both came out of college as athletic wings who were excellent defenders with suspect shots. The two are almost identical in size and physicality and to that end, I compared their final college years side by side:
As you can see, the two posted very similar numbers across the board with Ebanks actually being a much better shooter from the line, a better scorer percentage-wise from the field, and a better rebounder. His 3-point shooting percentage is indeed ghastly, but as we saw with Ariza, that can certainly improve with practice. Ebanks is also more comfortable handling the ball and at times for West Virginia last year, initiated the offense.
Is he the Raptors' pick at 13, assuming that's where they stay?
I'd have to think he gets a serious look, despite where the mock drafts may have him slated to be selected presently. He's got a skill-set that historically has translated very well in the L, and if there's one thing we've seen consistently the past few drafts, it's players like Ebanks being selected far too low.
Oh...and did I mention he spent two years under Huggy Bear?
That alone should put him near the top of the Raptors draft board...