Before jumping into today's workouts a few notes from yesterday.
First of all, Jay Williams made a stop at the ACC on his rehab tour, the first of many as he tries to return to the NBA. His workout was apparently quite good and while he still does not appear to have the fluidity he once had, his conditioning was superb and he displayed many of the characteristics that made him such a highly regarded prospect coming out of Duke. It's in fact amazing that Williams is even able to walk let alone play at this level after his horrendous motorcycle accident in 2003. As mentioned yesterday if he could even get back to 85 percent of where he was in terms of athletic ability, he would probably be a great fit for this club and would allow Bryan Colangelo to address other needs in the short term. The key for the Raptors though will be evaluating him in five-on-five situations to see how sharp his point guard instincts still are.
So if the Raps are interested in Jay Williams where does that leave the other Williams? Well from Draftexpress.com's interview with Marcus Williams, it really sounds like he's intrigued by the opportunity to play in Toronto. It also sounds like reports of him being overweight and under-conditioned are a bit off...
In fact both Marcus and Jay have been training together and Draftexpress also gives a great breakdown of their recent workout in Southern California. It seems that Jay looked good in this environment as well and while he's still recovering some of his explosiveness, at 24 he's actually younger or similar in age to many of this year's draft crop.
Of course also auditioning for the Raptors yesterday was local product Denham Brown. According to reports, Brown did not have a spectacular workout, especially in terms of his shooting, but he did show the work ethic and drive that made him such a well-rounded college player at UConn.
For audio interviews from yesterday's sessions from Raptors.com, click here.
And now...on to today's grouping:
Who is he? 6-7 Senior forward from Richmond.
Last Year: Averaged 13.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals for the Spiders. Led team in scoring and steals and was second in rebounding. Member of Canadian Senior National Team in 2004-05.
What Can He do? An extremely active and athletic player, Bucknor was heavily recruited out of Ross Sheppard High School in Alberta and spent four solid seasons at Richmond. While there he played both guard and forward positions, a true tribute to his versatility as a player. Bucknor also has a nice looking shot, able to hit from inside and out, and his defence led to him being amongst the best at playing passing lanes in the Atlantic 10 conference.
Bottom Line: Unfortunately the first thing that hurts Jermaine is his size. At 6-7, 218 pounds he's probably too small to play either forward position in the NBA and his shooting and quickness playing the 2 spot has been questioned. Not a pure scorer either, Jermaine will likely have to take his game through the minors and hone certain aspects of it for a shot in the league. While he's got very little chance of being drafted this year it's great to see the Raptors continue to bring in talented Canadian kids to give them a feel for workouts such as these. Raptor assistant coach Jay Triano of course coached the national team and has a feel for many of these kids' games and how they project to the next level. This can be invaluable down the road if one of them has great success overseas and the Raptors want another look.
Who is he? 6-2 Senior guard from Duke.
Last Year: Averaged 7.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals for the Blue Devils. Has 133 steals in his career and averages 1.37 thefts per game as a collegian...McDonald's All-American out of high school.
What Can He do? Need a player who can lock down the other team's guard - Dockery is your man. One of the premier defenders in college basketball, Dockery plays an unheralded game doing "the little things" to help his team win. Dockery is not a pure point guard nor is he a scorer in the Ben Gordon mould and as a result many scouts wonder how he'll ever find success in the NBA as he's only average size for even the 1 spot. He's got NBA range and a decent shot however has difficulty creating off the dribble and never really showed anything at Duke that would lead teams to consider him as a true distributor.
Bottom Line: I feel that Dockery is going to be one of the true surprises of this draft and will be a steal for the team that grabs him in the second round. He doesn't have first-round talent but like Chris Duhon before him, is a better player than he showed through college as the Duke system was mostly predicated on getting the ball to either JJ Redick or Shelden Williams. So far this offseason he's backed this theory up including having an MVP-type performance in April's Portsmouth Tournament where he finished second to Juan Jose Barea in assists. His true calling I feel however will be his defence and leadership abilities and I think he would be a great option for the Raptors in the second round considering Toronto's needs at the 1.
Who is he? 6-10 Senior forward/center from South Florida.
Last Year and Previously: Averaged 13.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks for the Bulls. Attended Daytona Beach CC before transferring to South Florida.
What Can He do? Jones is one of this year's most intriguing prospects. Perhaps the draft's best pure shot-blocker after Tyrus Thomas and Patrick O'Bryant, Jones is an excellent athlete who gets off the ground quickly and runs the floor extremely well. At 6-10 he's got good height but due to his huge winspan actually play even bigger and therefore manages to grab the majority of his boards simply by out-jumping and positioning other players. He's still quite raw having played only two years of Division I basketball and his offence needs a lot of work but a great pre-draft camp in Orlando may send his stock closer to the top of the second round.
Bottom Line: Jones has been compared to a young Theo Ratlif due to his size and shot-blocking expertise. However he's also been compared to the likes of Carlos Rogers and Mikki Moore simply because he has very little offensive game beyond putbacks and hook shots. He does have good form on his shot and shoots a great percentage from the free-throw line though, thereby giving scouts hope that this is an area of his game that he can improve over time. Jones will also have to add some serious bulk at the next level as right now he gets muscled around by smaller, stronger forwards. Big Bad Solomon Jones is an HQ favourite however and not simply because of the similarity between his name and the RJD2/Aceyalone track. As a late second-round pick he would be a great fit for the Raptors due to his work ethic and shot-blocking abilities and might finally be a player Toronto could develop to man that elusive 5 spot.
Who is he? 6-2 Senior point guard from Syracuse.
Last Year: Averaged 16.0 points, 5.9 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals for the Orangemen. BIG EAST all-time leader in three-point field goals (183.) Won National Championship in freshman season.
What Can He do? Gerry Mac might be the most accomplished college player in this year's draft. He's won an NCAA title and a division title, has been a Wooden Award finalist and has had tremendous success running a powerful Syracuse team for four years. Not quite a pure point, McNamara does have good court vision, a great handle and the ability to hit from long range. He's also been one of college's most clutch shooters as evidenced by his performance leading "Cinderella Syracuse" to the this year's Big East Conference Tournament title. However McNamara is not the most athletic point guard in college nor the fastest, two things that will be major issues in the NBA. Even in college his defense was sub-par and he struggled to create his own shot.
Bottom Line: Is this the second coming of Dan Dickau? Mateen Cleaves? Gerry Mac had a great college career but I find it highly unlikely that he has much future in the NBA. Watching McNamara without Hakim Warrick and Carmello Anthony really revealed how tough it's going to be for him at the next level in terms of scoring and even distributing the ball considering he's not really a pass-first player. And for someone with a reputation as a great long-range marksmen, he only shot 33 percent from beyond the college arc last season - something that doesn't bode well for an NBA transition. However all is not doom and gloom for McNamara in terms of his chances. In his last two years with the 'Cuse he was really their go-to option and therefore keyed-in on by opposing defenders and constantly hounded. This won't be the case in the NBA and if he can prove able to distribute the ball at the next level and hit open shots, he could end up as a third-stringer and specialty player.
Having McNamara in to workout against Dockery will be a good test for both players. It will allow the Raps' brass to see if Gerry Mac has the speed to get by a premier college defender like Dockery and on the other end of the court, to see if McNamara can stay with Dockery defensively. Hopefully some two-on-two scenarios can show a bit of both Dockery and McNamara's point-guard abilities as well.
For the bigs, the smaller Bucknor should present some challenges to Jones defensively as Bucknor will use his lower center of gravity and experience to try and force Jones into tough shots. It will also allow Colangelo and co. to see how Jones fares against a smaller and quicker player in Bucknor. Unfortunately I would have liked to have paired Jones up against some of this draft's other bigs like Justin Williams and Paul Davis but hopefully this workout is simply to confirm thoughts that Toronto has had about Jones for a while in terms of draftability. Right now though I'd have both Dockery and Jones as solid options for Toronto if they keep the 56th pick.