The HQ takes another look around the web's top draft sites to check in on what they're saying about the Raptors and the fifth pick.
The NBA Draft is 26 days away.
And we're still pretty far away from determining who the Toronto Raptors are going to choose with the fifth overall pick. (Assuming they keep it of course.)
Part of this is because indeed, 26 days is still nearly a month away, thus giving lots of time still for player evaluations and workouts.
Part of this though is still that there is such parity in this draft after the top couple picks, it's hard to know who are the preferred prospects after names like Irving and Williams.
Therefore, on this Saturday morning I thought we'd check in again with some of the interweb's top draft sites, to get an idea of which prospects seem to keep popping up at 5, if any...
1. ESPN.com - Mock Draft Version 3.0 (Insider) - Jan Vesely - F.
Here's a name we haven't heard a ton of.
We'll be breaking down Vesely in greater detail soon but there is lots to like about an uber-athletic 6-10/6-11 forward joining this club. By all accounts Jan Vesely is an NBA highlight reel in the making, however there are legitimate questions about his basketball IQ and fundamentals.
Plus, ESPN doesn't sound to sure about this one.
From Chad Ford, ESPN.com's resident draft guru:
I'm still trying to get the pulse of what's happening in Toronto. Now that Bryan Colangelo has his extension, he can afford to take more risks. The question is ... who does he gamble on? Last week we had Valanciunas here. He's still in the mix, but I've been told that Vesely is even higher on his list.
A terrific athlete, Vesely is ready to play right now and adds great size to Toronto's front line. Kemba Walker is also a legit option here and if for some reason Brandon Knight falls, he won't slip past the Raptors.
So for now I'm taking this with a grain of salt, as it's quite possible Ford will have slotted a new name at 5 next time he updates his mock draft.
There have been a number of updates to Draftexpress' mock draft since we last checked in, but one thing hasn't changed.
At number five, they still have the Toronto Raptors selecting Kemba Walker.
While there's no rationale given, it stands to reason that if both ESPN and Draftexpress think that Brandon Knight is Utah's man at 3, then Toronto's left with Walker if they're indeed looking to upgrade at the 1.
Again, as we've debated before, Walker may not in fact be much of an upgrade at this position, and may be better suited in a sixth man role for a contending club when all is said and done, but right now, Draftexpress continues to have him slotted to Toronto.
This is now the third mock draft in a row that has Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, and Brandon Knight going 1, 2, 3.
So perhaps this draft doesn't start at 3 after all, but at 4?
Two of the three drafts also have Kanter going fourth to the Cavs so we may see that order locked in over the next few weeks, meaning the Raps will have to decide between guys like Valanciunas and Walker.
We're going to do a full breakdown of Valanciunas quite soon, but again, of the Euro bigs, this one's my favourite of the bunch based on what I've read, and assuming his contract situation can get resolved.
Another Kemba Walker sighting.
While the choice of who Toronto picks has hardly been finalized, one thing from the latest mock drafts that's quite interesting is that none seem to feel that Brandon Knight will be around for Toronto to pick. More and more mocks have Utah locked in to select Knight with the third pick, something I feel that would be a tough pill for the Raptors to swallow.
Again, I like Kemba, but not this high.
And another Valanciunas.
In fact looking through a couple more online mocks, Walker and Valanciunas show up more than another prospect in terms of who Toronto may be, or should be, considering with the fifth pick.
Why do I like Valanciunas, buy-out aside?
From one mock:
...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.
Again, no Andrea Bargnani, but perhaps a complement to his abilities if the Raps hold onto Bargs through the off-season.