With the NBA Draft Lottery less than a week away, the HQ takes a look at who some of the web's usual suspects have the Raptors' selecting come June...
This time next week all will be revealed.
Well...not all, but at least the Toronto Raptors will finally know which lottery spot they'll be picking from.
At present, they have the third best odds at the top pick in the draft, but where they'll actually pick is anyone's guess.
Right now based on their record, mock drafts have them selecting third overall, thus out of contention for the two players who are the consensus number one and number two prospects; Duke's Kyrie Irving and Arizona's Derrick Williams.
So assuming those two are indeed gone, who do some of the top draft followers have the Dinos selecting?
Let's take a look...
1. ESPN.com - Mock Draft Version 1.1 (Insider) - Enes Kanter - C.
As you'll see below, the Kanter selection is a common theme in the various online mock drafts. If the Raptors stick at the third spot, most "experts" feel he's the next best prospect along with best fit for the Dinos, a team that as we've all noticed, lacks a legitimate center.
The word on Kanter?
From Chad Ford, ESPN.com's resident draft guru:
He is tough, can play inside and out, rebounds the basketball and has a higher basketball IQ than most of the kids his age. He's a bit undersized for a center, but his toughness in the paint will be a welcome contrast to Andrea Bargnani's Charmin-soft game.
Apparently Ford's not such a big Bargs fan.
In any event, at first glance, 6-10 and 255 isn't going to wow anyone. This essentially means Kanter is the same height, based on Ford's stats, as Ed Davis, and only five pounds heavier than Bargs. In fact in his individual draft write-up, Ford notes that Kanter is a bit undersized for his position, and on top of this, "not an explosive athlete."
On the plus side, he does seem to enjoy the dirty work in the paint, has a solid basketball IQ, and has great length despite his height, a key quality amongst the league's top 5's.
This is interesting.
Walker looked to be a lottery pick all season but this is the first time I've seen him projected to go this high.
Walker is probably the "most known unknown" of the next tier of prospects after Irving and Williams. He had a phenomenal college year at UCONN, and continued that all the way through the NCAA tournament, leading his Huskies to a title.
He's incredibly explosive as a scorer, has great body control and the ability to finish in transition and at the rim, and has dramatically improved as a shooter over his college career.
Walker's undersized, and many feel a duplicate of Jerryd Bayless in terms of his NBA potential, but as Raptors Republic noted this morning, there are quite a few good reasons to look at Walker should he be available when Toronto picks.
Interestingly, NBADraft.net doesn't have Kemba Walker going until 9 at present, so as you can see, there's still quite a difference in opinion on how many of these prospects project out.
Draft.net gives Kanter an NBA comparison of Al Horford which if it came to pass, would obviously be a huge get for a rebuilding club like the Raps.
That being said, Horford really isn't a true 5, and the one position Toronto seems to have well stocked is actually the 4 right now.
The more I read about Vesely, the more intrigued I become.
First of all, he's not going to be a 4 at the NBA level, and seems more of an over-sized, yet slight-of-frame, Nicolas Batum type at the 3.
Second, his game is all about getting out on the break, athleticism, and hustle, all traits the Toronto Raptors could use a big dose of.
He might not be a 5 or a 1, spots that perhaps most fans would like to see the Raptors get major upgrades in, but as we all know, this team needs help everywhere, and an Andrei Kirilenko (one comparison) type or two certainly wouldn't hurt.
Another international name in a field of them this year, Valanciunas is no Andrea Bargnani. In fact he's drawn comparisons to the likes of Nenad Kristc as a much more "in the paint" European big man, and while he still has great shooting touch, is hardly going to be launching 3's.
In fact from DraftExpress' description of him as a prospect:
...he's an incredibly intense competitor, a boundlessly energetic player who never stops working for a moment and whose presence is constantly felt on the court.
It's easy to see him developing into an Andris Biedrins-type rebounder/defender/hustler in the NBA, but he likely has more even potential offensively than the Latvian big man due to his superior hands and touch (he probably has more of a nasty streak too).
So the opposite of Bargs?
He still needs a lot of work in terms of his strength and size but Valanciunas is a legit center option for Toronto, and while not a Marcus Camby or Tyson Chandler clone, does seem to have a lot of the intangibles necessary for successful big men in the league today.