To start things off from the top, the Raptors released the proposed workout plans for the team for the days leading up to the draft. There are some interesting inclusions among the names including Denham Brown, Rajon Rondo and Marcus Williams all making return trips. The speculation could be that Toronto is taking a closer look at these three to perhaps make final decisions regarding their selections...however in Denham's case, Toronto may simply be wanting to take another look at him against superior competition (Rudy Gay, Randy Foye and Adam Morrison will be his competition) especially since he didn't have a great workout on his first trip to the ACC. Rondo and Williams will of course fuel point-guard and "trading down" speculation.
It's also good to see some of the top names finally getting casting calls including the aformentioned Gay, Foye and Morrison and Patrick O'Bryant and Brandon Roy. Some of the notable absences (barring last minute changes) include JJ Redick, Ronnie Brewer, Cedric Simmons, Shelden Williams and Rodney Carney. And topping this list is Tyrus Thomas, who was supposed to be in for a workout today yet cancelled and may reappear later next week. It will be interesting to see if Thomas shows up at all before draft day.
Most importantly, the Raptors finally had a chance to see LaMarcus Aldridge up close and personal yesterday. While he didn't workout against any other players, it was Bryan Colangelo and co's opportunity to speak to LaMarcus and perhaps get a final feel for one of the draft's potential number one picks.
To hear more about yesterday's workouts click here to hear audio from raptors.com.
As for LaMarcus, here's our report:
Who is he? 6-11 Sophomore forward/center from Texas.
Last Year: Averaged 15 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for the Longhorns. Led team in scoring and steals and was second in rebounding. Earned third-team All-America honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year accolades.
What Can He do? The premier bigman in this year's draft, Aldridge can do a bit of everything. A talented scorer, Aldridge has great touch and soft hands around the basket. In addition, he's great in transition as he runs the floor better than most players his size. His length and athleticism also allow him to be an effective defensive player and terrific offensive rebounder. While he played power forward at Texas, there's speculation that Aldridge could play center in the NBA due to his shot-blocking abilities. He is quite thin however for his height and struggled at times in college when matched up against bigger, stronger post players. In fact he only benched 185 six times at the NBA combines which is a bit of a concern if he's going to play the 5. The other main knock on Aldridge is his reputation. He's been perceived at times at being soft and not bringing the necessary intensity from game to game.
Bottom Line: There's not much new you can say about LaMarcus. By now everyone knows about his successful college career, his friendship with current Raptor Chris Bosh, his upside, his downside and everything in between. Whether the Raptors draft LaMarcus at the top of the draft is really going to come down to a few things we believe and the first of these is whether or not Toronto feels he can play center at the next level. He's been compared to Channing Frye in terms of his face-up offensive style of play, not to mention his size and shot-blocking abilities and it looks like Channing is going to be a successful 4/5 in the league. But is this the type of player Colangelo envisions manning the 5 for Toronto for years to come? His game is eerily similar to Chris Bosh's in many ways and the next question will obviously be "can these two play together up front, especially on the defensive end of the ball?" Another thing that will of course affect whether or not Aldridge is chosen number 1 is simply what Toronto does with the pick. If they trade out or trade down, it's unlikely we'll see the Texas native in the Raptor red and black next year. I think all of us here at the HQ would be fine with Toronto selecting him number 1, it's just that we'd like to see what else Colangelo can get for the top spot.