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Media Watch: June 21

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In our continued efforts to provide Raptors fans with maximum team coverage, we here at Raptorshq present Media Watch; our regular survey of the media examining all articles, excerpts and other media information relating to the team.

For June 21, 2005

Let's start this edition of media watch off with a word from Raptors GM, Rob Babcock. Babcock occasionally emails Raptors Insiders and this edition is especially interesting considering he discusses some of the players the Raptors are examining for this year's draft and gives fans an idea of a day in the midst of this draft process.

For a general manager of an NBA basketball team, this is a very exciting time of year. With the focus being on preparation for the June 28 NBA Draft, I want to bring you inside our basketball office and provide you with a special glimpse into what a typical day of draft prepation includes. You'll also get an idea of what a draft prospect goes through. Here is our daily itinerary:

8:00 a.m. - Breakfast with four draft prospects and two or three members of our basketball operations staff at the hotel. This provides an opportunity to spend time with these players in a relaxed environment.

8:45 a.m. - Time to check my e-mails and voice mails. Players check out of hotel and head to Air Canada Centre.

9:00 a.m. - While the players get dressed and taped for the workout we will put them through, I watch game tape of other players who will be visiting us the next day. One player meets with the team psychologist (the others meet later).

9:30 a.m. - Players warm up while I finish watching game tape. Various basketball staff members talk with the players at this time as well.

10:00 a.m. - On-court evaluations. All basketball staff in town will attend this workout. The entire workout is video taped and includes the following:

- Height and weight measurements

- Testing of strength, speed, quickness, agility, reaction time, vertical jump

(only players not attending the recent Chicago Pre-draft camp)

- Skill testing by position (shooting, ballhandling, etc.) and all drills are recorded

and compared with all prospects

- One on one (different positions on the floor)

- 2 on 2 situations (low post, pick n'roll, etc.)

- 2 on 1 full court

- Defensive drills (2 on 2 and 1 on 1)

- Specialty evaluations (geared to the individual) For example: a 2 guard that

needs to play point in the NBA will have extra work on evaluating point skills.

- Finish with special competition drills that are fun, but also measure the

players ability to perform under pressure

12:00 p.m. - After the workout, the players, head coach Sam Mitchell and I will answer questions from the media. The media are not allowed in the gym during the workout.

12:20 p.m. - Lunch with the players. This is another opportunity for our staff to get to know more about the players. We also show them a video of the city of Toronto and the team. We want them to know that Toronto is a great place to live and play basketball.

12:50 p.m. - The players will relax in our players' lounge while they take turns having individual meetings with myself, Sam, Wayne Embry and our team psychologist.

3:30 p.m. - The players depart for the airport and head for their next visit. I will now spend the next two hours working the phones, talking to other GM's, agents, making background calls on players, etc. Players for the next day's workouts will be arriving between 3 and 7 p.m. They are greeted at the airport and taken to the hotel where they get a chance to relax a little before dinner.

5:30 p.m. - I try to workout every day. It helps me keep my energy going and deal with all the stress. Most of our staff workout every day. Often, I will watch game tape while riding the bike (to maximize the productivity of my time).

6:45 p.m. - I return to the office to watch more tape and return calls.

8:00 p.m. - I have dinner with one or two of the draft prospects that will be working out the next day. We will split the staff with the players so that we have more intimate dinners which allows us a better opportunity to get to know each player.

10:30 p.m. - I usually get home between 10:30 and 11 p.m. I will return all late calls and try to watch at least 30 minutes of tape.

This is a typical day for us for the six weeks leading up to the draft. Weekends are no different than week days - there are too many players to workout and you can always watch one more tape. This year we will have more than 60 players work out for us here in Toronto. This is not the norm, but because we have four draft picks we need to see a lot of players. In a typical year when you have one first round and one second round, a team will have about 20 players in to work out. We will not be able to work out all the players we'd like because agents will not send their players to teams they feel have no chance to draft them.

Scheduling these workouts is a nightmare. I handled scheduling for 12 years in Minnesota and now I get to delegate this job to Scott Howard our director of international player personnel. Trying to coordinate these workouts and get the right players in on the right day is a logistical nightmare and Scott has done a great job at juggling these schedules. We're limited by NBA rules to working out players in only a 2-on-2 situation or less. We can have more players attend in one day, but only 2-on-2 on the court. We try to bring in players at the same position so that we can have good comparative workouts. Many of these players will visit up to 20 teams prior to the draft. They're as exhausted as we are when the draft is over! We are allowed to bring a player back one time and we will do that with several of the players this year.

On the rare day that we don't have players in, the entire day is spent on tape work, trade calls and background work on players. We spend a great deal of time checking out each player. It is important that we have strong character players on our team. Our philosophy and the success of our team is dependent on players that believe in the team concept.

We recently finished a two week break from this process, but we didn't get any rest. We attended the annual Chicago Pre-Draft Camp where 66 of the top prospects gather for a week of testing, drills, games and psychological and medical evaluations. This is also an informal NBA convention and a great time to have trade discussions. Although there are not the "Franchise" players in this draft we've seen in recent years (Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, etc.), there is a great deal of depth with prospects that have potential to be solid NBA players.

Because of this depth, there has been a lot of interest in our draft picks. We're certainly open to trades, but we will not make a trade unless it helps our team for the future. We will not take a "band-aid" approach regarding trades. We could take the four first round picks we have in the next two years and translate that into some veteran players who would get us immediately into the playoffs. The problem with that approach is that though we might get right back into the playoffs, those players will age quickly and we'll be right back to square one (and with no players for the future).

After the Chicago Camp, we made a trip to a similar camp in Treviso, Italy. This camp had several prospects for this year's draft, but more importantly there were 40 prospects for the next three drafts that we were able to get an early look at. Almost every team in the NBA had scouts or GMs at this tournament, so it was another opportunity to continue trade talk as well. There were 22 players at this tournament that were 6'11" or taller. The international player has a significant place in today's NBA.

As you know, I can't divulge our player ratings, but I want to share with you a few of the players that we will be looking at for the 7th and 16th picks in the draft (each group is listed in alphabetical order):

Andrew Bogut, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Marvin Williams are players that we are evaluating, but will most certainly not drop to us.
Point guards that we're looking at include Monta Ellis (HS), Ray Felton (North Carolina), Jarrett Jack (Georgia Tech) and Roko Leni-Ukic (Croatia)
2's and 3's that we're considering include Franciso Garcia (Louisville), Joey Graham (Oklahoma State), Danny Granger (New Mexico), Gerald Green (HS), Ersan Ilyasova (Turkey), Yaroslav Korolev (Russia), Rashad McCants (North Carolina), Marko Thomas (Croatia), Hakim Warrick (Syracuse) Martell Webster (HS) and Antoine Wright (Texas A & M)
Inside players are Nemanja Aleksandrov (Serbia), Martynas Andruiskevius (Lithuania), Andray Blatche (HS), Ike Diogu (Arizona State), Channing Frye (Arizona), Sean May (North Carolina), Johan Petro(France), Wayne Simien (Kansas), Tiago Splitter (Brazil), Fran Vasquez (Spain) and Charlie Villanueva (Conn)
Of course there can always be a sleeper pick that we aren't mentioning, but that can be for you to figure out
The players that we've had in for visits to Toronto have been very impressive and we're confident that we will be able to acquire two quality players in the first round. With our two first round picks in 2006 and the financial flexibility to use our mid-level exception over the next three seasons, we feel that we're positioned to develop a team capable of contending for the playoffs in the near future and one that will continue to develop into a championship contender down the road.

We are definitely going to get younger, but with that we will get more athletic, better defensively and build the type of character that is consistent with our team philosophy. It is not going to happen overnight, but I believe that you will see a hungry basketball team that is working hard every night and is making consistent progress towards our goals.

Now, I need to try to schedule in a haircut before the draft. Have a safe summer. I hope you'll enjoy watching the NBA Draft and I look forward to seeing you at our games this season.

Sincerely,

Rob Babcock
General Manager
Toronto Raptors

Interesting stuff. On the plus side, many of the players he mentions are ones that we've openly discussed as desirable picks....but then again, it's still a week before the draft so who knows what is smoke from a fire vs. just smoke screens.

ESPN.com â€" 2005 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE

From local media coverage, things have once again been pretty quiet. But from yesterday's Chad Ford article on ESPN.com, the Raptors are mentioned in light of some recent trade rumours involving Gerald Green. Ford reports that Green is not expected to slip past the Raptors at the 7th pick, and the Los Angeles Lakers, who are reportedly quite interested in Green, have been looking to leapfrog the Raptors and perhaps acquire Portland's #3 or Utah's #6 pick to draft him.

DRAFT EXPRESS - WORD ON THE STREETS - By Jonathan Givony

The Raptors are also briefly mentioned in Draft Express' newest article. Once again Gerald Green is the topic as he will be finishing off his workout schedule with a private workout for the Raptors this Friday. The article also looks at various trade proposals that may be out there right now in addition to examining the latest word on various International and underclassmen prospects as to whether or not they'll be staying in the draft. Today marks the deadline for these players to decide if they wish to remain in the draft or return to their respective clubs. Of particular interest to the Raptors, it appears that Roko Leni-Ukic and Ike Diogu, 2 of the players mentioned by Babcock above, are leaning towards remaining in the draft.

All in all, this draft is shaping up as perhaps the most difficult to predict of all time.

Franchise