Toronto Raptors 2011 Draft Workout #2 - Spotlight on Brandon Knight


The HQ takes a quick look at Part II of the first day of Raptors' pre-draft workouts, highlighted by the appearance of Brandon Knight.

We previewed today's first work-out session this morning and now we turn our attention to the afternoon run.

Again, not a great group of prospects in terms of where the Raptors will currently be selecting, but a few interesting names nonetheless.

Here's the breakdown:

Afternoon Session:

1.  Brandon Knight G - Kentucky - As mentioned this morning, it's a shame we won't get to see Knight go one-on-one with the morning's key participant, Kemba Walker, but you can understand why his agent vetoed this idea.  Regardless, Toronto gets an up-close look at Knight, the marquee player on this afternoon bill.

We discussed Knight at length yesterday and will be doing some more analysis on him shortly but the long and short of it is that this is probably the highest ranked prospect Toronto will get to see live.  The management group is heading overseas shortly for a look at guys like Bismack Biyombo and Jan Vesely but neither are being touted as highly as Knight.

For me, I'll be interested to see how he runs things in a 2-on-2 situation, how adept his ball-handling is, and how well he shoots the ball this afternoon.  It's a tiny sample size admittedly, but even in these minuscule viewing windows one can pick up some interesting info. 

2.  Isaiah Thomas - G - Washington - As much as it's great to see guys like Knight up close, I'm more thrilled to see Mr. Isaiah Thomas, one of my favourite players in college last season.

Favourite because of his size, generously listed as standing six feet tall?

Nope, favourite because he's one of the most talented, hard-working and competitive players in this draft in spite of clocking in at 5-10.  He averaged about 17 points and 6 assists last year for Huskies, leading his club deep into the Dance before narrowly losing to UNC, all the while proving his critics wrong regarding his ability to run a team.  The biggest knock on Thomas beside his diminutive stature was always his ability to play the 1 but when teammate Abdul Gaddy went down with an injury, Thomas stepped in at point and the club really took off.  In fact, his play this past season garnered him an "All-American Honourable Mention." 

In addition to his credentials from last season, Thomas should be a great workout partner for Knight.  Knight has the height advantage of course, but Thomas is a better shooter and arguably a better athlete considering his combine test results...all of which should make for an interesting afternoon sparring session.

3.  Alex Stephenson - F - USC - Another USC kid comes to Toronto for a look.  Stephenson though isn't simply filler for this workout I'd argue.  He's got legit power forward size for the NBA at 6-9, 250 pounds, all the while possessing a 7 foot wingspan.

Stephenson, a transfer from UNC after two seasons, won't be brought in for his offense though.  He averaged only about 6 points per game over his college career, and dished out only six assists last season despite playing over 1100 minutes.

No, he'll be getting a look from teams because of his rebounding and defensive abilities.  The former Trojan averaged 8 rebounds a game over his two years at USC, and over a block a match, serving as the last line of defence often for his club.  I doubt he's on many mock drafts right now but could easily find a home on a team's bench, playing a Dan Gadzuric type role.

4.  Frank Hassell - F - ODU - Of all the prospects in today's sessions, Hassell is the one I know by far the least about.  He looks to have legit NBA size at 6-9, 255 pounds, and his averages last year at Old Dominion of 15 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks seem solid.

But there's not a lot of other data out there on him aside from a few accolades last year, and I've yet to see his name mentioned seriously amongst draftnicks.  Perhaps he was brought in to match up with Stephenson, or perhaps the Raptors see something in the big man that others have missed, who knows.

Regardless, I don't think we'll hear his name being called by Toronto come draft day.

Commentary:  Like this morning's session, there's not a lot here to get that excited about as a Raptors' fan.  The Knight/Thomas match-up could be entertaining, but really this session is all about Toronto getting a close up with Knight.  It's rumoured that the Dinos already took the former KY point out to dinner during the Chicago combine, but this will give them an on-court view in an environment where they'll control the drills.  I'll be looking to see an aggressive Knight take Thomas to the rim and use his size advantage, show some abilities going left (a hole in his game right now) and drill shots in a consistent fashion in the various shooting drills.

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