We're down to the Final Four and that means another look at some of the top college prospects the Raptors' may be considering come draft time...
Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State and...Louisville?
If we were on Sesame Street we'd be singing "one of these things is not like the other" would't we?
It was an interesting series of games this past weekend that now has the NCAA tourney field down to four clubs, but the real story is likely the Kentucky Wildcats, who continue to steamroll their way to the championship game. And while Louisville has surpassed all expectations and may be the best defensive team in the tourney, I don't see the Wildcats getting a true test until the Finals.
Kentucky is so incredibly talented at every position that I'm not sure I've ever witnessed another club like it. Sure, Coach Cal has had stacked clubs before but this one not only dominates from an individual standpoint, but also plays like a true cohesive unit, the downfall of his past Derrick Rose and John Wall led clubs.
It's the individual talent though that I want to turn to right now as we do our latest "stock watch," and roll out the first full version of our Draft Board, which yes, features two Kentucky Wildcats at the very top.
1) Anthony Davis, F, Kentucky. If the Raps land the top pick, the only choice is the "Uni-Blocker." He may not be a Kevin Durant game-changer but he looks destined to be an All-Star for years. 6-10 guys with 7-4 wingspans who consistently outwork opponents don't grow on trees. Add in his underrated face-up offensive game and of course, his ridiculous shot-blocking abilities and his addition to the Toronto Raptors, along with Jonas Valanciunas, would likely make coach Dwane Casey the happiest man in the world.
2) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Kentucky. MKG actually addresses a bigger need for Toronto than Davis, as he's a true NBA 3 who can even play some 4. He's got an NBA body and a very well-rounded set of skills at both ends of the court that should mean he's able to contribute right away. The knock on him is his offensive game but I think that's a bit overstated. He was 7 of 10 against Baylor yesterday, dominated Indiana offensively, and is a complete terror on the fast break. Oh, and did we mention he's one of the best defenders in college and has a motor that never stops? There might be some concerns about him replicating what James Johnson does but in my books, MKG has a much higher upside and dare I say it, could end up being a Paul Pierce type at the next level.
3) Bradley Beal, G, Florida. Beal's Gators collapsed down the stretch against Rick Pitino's Cardinals on Saturday night but that was due to point guard Erving Walker's shot-selection and decision making than anything Beal did. Beal didn't dominate the game, and did make some miscues late, but he looks like a stud at the next level thanks to his scoring and rebounding ability at the 2 spot. The knock on Beal is that at 6-3 he's undersized for the 2 spot but I'm not too concerned. First of all, he's got great length and an NBA frame despite his diminutive stature and second, he told SB Nation's Seth Pollack on the weekend that he had grown and was closer to 6-5 now. We'll see come combine time but for a Raptors' club desperately searching for a consistent option at the 2, Beal looks like the pick of the litter.
4) Thomas Robinson, F, Kansas. Robinson, likely a power forward at the next level, doesn't fit a positional need for Toronto. But in some ways, who cares. The Raptors simply need more talent and Robinson is one of the most talented players in the NCAA currently. Somewhat similar to Derrick Williams last season for Arizona, Robinson is a late-blooming 4 who can dominate inside and out. He's not without some flaws (is he too small to be a 4 in the NBA? is he talented enough to be a starter on a good team?) but considering his strength, athleticism and motor, I'm certain that whichever team drafts him will be extremely happy.
5) Harrison Barnes, F, UNC. For me, after these four, it gets shaky. I actually prefer certain prospects like Jared Sullinger and James McAdoo to Barnes, but this board is all about who I think Toronto will be looking at come late June, and that puts Barnes next on the list. To me Barnes is the hardest of the top picks to really project. There's no question the size and talent are there, but can he actually be an impact player in the NBA? He just seems so one-dimensional for a player of his talents, and his play in the NCAA tourney, especially on Sunday against Kansas, did nothing to ease my concern. Some have argued that Rudy Gay too could have been classified in this manner at UCONN but I disagree. Gay could always do a myriad of things, the question was more around if he would put in the consistent effort needed to improve at the next stage. Barnes doesn't rebound, defend, or dictate the flow of games the way you'd expect someone with his size and talents to do. Put it this way - if I'm Colangelo and I'm choosing between Barnes and say Sullinger or McAdoo, I'm going with one of the latter players.
6) Jared Sullinger, F, Ohio State. Might be Zach Randolph at the next level, might be Paul Millsap, might be Sean May. Doesn't matter to me. I know I'm getting a guy who I can throw the ball into on the low block and he'll make things happen. Hard to get that kind of certainty in the draft.
7) James McAdoo, F, UNC. Much higher upside than Sullinger but much more of a project. Hard to see the Raps taking a flyer on another "Project 4" at this point but definitely like this kid's talent.
8) Jeremy Lamb, G, UCONN. Like but don't love Lamb. Right now he looks to me like a bit of a Nick Young type but considering the lack of quality 2's in the league, could have an immediate impact in terms of scoring.
9) Damian Lillard, G, Weber State. Raps do need PG help and Lillard's probably the pick of the litter in terms of upside. He's a bit of a Jerryd Bayless though so not exactly a lock as a potential starting PG.
10) Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky. Not a fan of Terrence Jones but his play of late has me thinking that in the right system, maybe he could be a steal. Don't think the Raps will roll the dice but on talent, he reminds me a lot of Jamal Mashburn in terms of his game.