We were promised some big names for today's Raptors' pre-draft workout and we're getting them...the HQ takes a look at an elite group of big men who should be on display for the Dinos this morning.
Last Friday when we attended Toronto's final pre-draft workout of the week, we were informed that there would be at least one more workout scheduled, one that likely would feature some of the bigger names that the team hadn't seen up close.
Indeed, that's the case as the Raps will have four big names, and bigger bodies, in for a workout session at the ACC.
Terrence Jones of Kentucky, Perry Jones III of Baylor, UNC's John Henson and Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger will all be working out in front of the Raptors' brass today, and will be joined by lesser-known prospects Alex Young of IUPUI, and Tyler Murray of Wagner.
As we've been doing with each of these workouts, let's take a close-up look at the various participants.
Jared Sullinger - 6-9, F, Ohio State: We start with Mr. Red Flag. As has widely been reported in draft circles, Sullinger was recently flagged due to back issues and we may now see his stock slip as a result. There are two sides to every story of course and Sully's team is insisting these concerns are overblown.
Regardless of these issues, let's get to the real issue for lottery teams taking Sullinger; will he be able to dominate at an NBA level, the same way he did against NCAA competition? He didn't exactly blow anyone away in athletic testing recently, and has never been an "above-the-rim" type player. But you don't essentially average a double-double over your career playing against top competition by luck. This is an extremely talented player we're talking about here, and one that has an incredibly soft touch and solid fundamentals for someone his size and age.
As a result, many folks, from Draftexpress to John Hollinger (whose "Draft Rater" recently ranked Sully as the draft's seventh best prospect) believe that whoever picks the Ohio State big man is going to be very happy. I think he's one of the safer picks in the draft, but whether he turns out to be Kevin Love light, or Big Baby Davis is anyone's guess at this point.
Terrence Jones - 6-10, F, Kentucky: Now we get to the enigma section of the program. On physical traits and talent alone, Jones should be a top five pick. No question. If you watched him this past season at Kentucky you'd see moments where he'd make an incredible block on one end, run the court and finish in transition at the other.
Unfortunately you'd also see long stretches where he settled for bad shots, made poor decisions with the ball or worse still, was invisible. And hence, a player who normally would be a top five lock, now could easily find himself out of the lottery.
NBA comparisons have ranged from Al Harrington to Marvin Williams as a result, and no, these aren't exactly the type of players you'd want the Raptors to be taking with the eighth overall pick. He's certainly intriguing in terms of his skill-set, but you get the feeling that Jones is going to be one of those guys that takes years to figure it out, and needs to be in the right system to do so. I don't think Toronto is that place, and regardless of any Kentucky affiliation from Coach Casey, I'm hoping the Raptors pass.
Perry Jones III - 6-11, F, Baylor: Incidentally, most of the above description for Terrence Jones could be applied to Perry Jones as well. Even after returning to Baylor for his sophomore season, he didn't dominate the way scouts, fans and media expected, especially for someone with his skillset. We're talking about a 6-11 forward who can handle the ball and move like a guard, and on top of that, is one of the more athletic prospects in this draft. On paper he too should be a lock as a top five pick but there are serious questions about his basketball fundamentals, love of the game, and killer instinct.
Of the two Jones, I prefer Perry. He was played out of position as a center for most of his time at Baylor, and has a Josh Smith-esque game that is incredibly intriguing. If he developed a solid low-post game as well a consistent three-point shot (he hit on 30 per cent from long-range last year) we could be talking about another Lamar Odom here. However we're a ways away from that point currently, and again, unless the Raptors traded down in this draft, I'd prefer they pass on Mr. Jones III.
John Henson, 6-11, F, UNC: Henson gives this morning's workout a fourth big body and another long and lean type to match up with Perry Jones. He's coming off another solid season at UNC where he averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and nearly three blocks a contest. He's drawn comparisons from Marcus Camby to Andrei Kirilenko and has a budding offensive game to go with his dominant defensive presence.
But I'm not sold on him as an NBA prospect. I'm not sure what it is, but I worry about how his game will translate at the next level. He's a great shot blocker, but he's not on a Marcus Camby level at this point, and isn't a true center. As a 4, I worry about him trying to guard bigger players as his athletic testing numbers were maybe the worst of this year's class considering expectations.
A defensive-stopper three like AK-47? I can't see that either as he's nowhere near as polished in terms of all-around game at this point.
I have to wonder if his upside isn't like that of Amir Johnson and well...the Raptors already have him.
Other thoughts: I won't go into too much detail about the other two workout participants, Alex Young and Tyler Murray. Murray is a Canadian kid from Toronto who averaged 12 points a game last year, while Young is an explosive scorer, who's flown under the radar at IUPUI.
Both are guards in the 6-5, 6-6 range and will likely be the facilitators for the main show today, the big men. While Murray might get some late second-round interest simply because he was one of the most explosive scorers in the NCAA last season, but I'm truly interested in seeing the bigs go at it.
Of the quartet, Sullinger is by far my favourite option and really, the only one I'd be ok with Toronto taking at eight. (As long as his back checks out.) Sully would be the first true low-post presence this club has had in ages, and would be a very interesting weapon for Coach Casey off the bench, potentially even supplanting Andrea Bargnani as a starting 4 if Bargs fails to expand his "13 game" sample size over an entire season.
As for the others, I have zero interest in Henson, but the two Joneses would be interesting if Toronto was able to grab a second, first-round pick. Barring a trade of their eighth overall pick though, I don't see this as being very likely as the club seems to want more veteran help rather than another influx of rookies.