Note - Today's workout did indeed feature the players we discussed earlier today minus Aaron Gray making for an intriguing five-some. In fact, yesterday's workout was also apparently a five-some as Bobby Jones participated after not making it for Tuesday's workout.
Who is he? 6-10 Senior forward from Notre Dame.
Last Year: Averaged 11.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks for the Fighting Irish. Led Notre Dame in rebounding in each of this first three seasons.
What Can He do? A terrific looking prospect, Francis has NBA-ready size and length. A hard worker, he is fairly athletic, runs the floor well and is capable of rebounding with the best of them. Defensively he's solid and he's a consistent shot-blocking threat. Injuries have robbed him of the explosiveness he once had however and his game is still underdevelopped for a senior.
Bottom Line: Torin Francis, after an excellent freshman year, was actually considered a lottery prospect by scouts. But injuries have really taken their tole on Torin and he just doesn't look like the prospect scouts once batted eyes at. Not only have these injuries diminished his explosive ability around the basket, but they appear to have taken their tole mentally on Francis as well. He just does not seem to have the aggressive "attack-the-basket" mentality he used to possess and at times looks quite hesitant in game play. Perhaps with the help of the right coaches and trainers Francis will be able to rekindle some of the lost fire but until then he'll probably have to fight it out in summer league to get a shot at being drafted.
Who is he? 6-10 Senior Forward/Center from Wyoming.
Last Year: Averaged 11.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 5.4 blocks for the Cowboys. Named the MWC's Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and earned Third Team All-MWC honors for the second straight year.
What Can He do? Finishing second in the country in blocked shots, Williams is a human fly-swatter. His timing on the defensive end is impecable and this combined with his length and quickness gives him his most NBA-ready skill. Williams is also a good defensive player, shot-blocking aside, and has the quickness to even get out and challenge shots on the perimeter. As a rebounder, there were few better last season as Williams uses his length, timing, quickness and toughness to get to the ball first. The main knock on Justin is his size as while he's got good height and length, he's quite skinny to play center in the league. In addition, he's extremly raw offensively, scoring most of his points on dunks and put-backs. Therefore he won't be effective as a 4 in all likelyhood unless matched up with an offensively talented side-kick up front. Can anyone say Chris Bosh?
Bottom Line: Williams is a shot-blocker, make no mistake about it. He doesn't appear to have the body-type to bulk up much but length and quickness should compensate for this making him an interesting option at 56 for Toronto. In fact because of his stature and style of play he's often been compared to Keon Clark, a player most Raps' fans are quite familiar with. Williams isn't first-round pick material and will probably never be a starter in the league but his defense and game-changing abilities in terms of blocking shots would make a nice fit for Toronto.
Who is he? 7-0 Sophomore Center from Bradley.
Last Year: Averaged 13.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.9 blocks for the Braves. 2006 Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a second-team All-MVC selection.
What Can He do? O'Bryant is considered to be the top big-man prospect in this draft after LaMarcus Aldridge. The difference is that while there are questions as to whether Aldridge can play the 5 in the league, O'Bryant is definitely better suited for this position as a pro. He's still growing into his body and right now is on the thin side, but has the highest standing reach of any of the lottery prospects and a pterodactyl type wingspan to match. Therefore this will compensate for his lack of size to a certain degree and his body looks like it will be able to suffieciently bulk up. On top of his body-type, O'Bryant has great agility for a legit seven-footer making him a presence on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. He runs the court well, has a nice shot and finishes well around the rim. Defensively he'll need to improve but is a great shot blocker due to his length and lift and a good rebounder. At times O'Bryant disappears however and there have been some concerns over his work ethic.
Bottom Line: Playing in the Missouri Valley Conference through college, O'Bryant is going to have a major adjustment to make before becoming successful in the NBA. He's got all the raw tools to do it, but the question is - will O'Bryant be the next Michael Olowokandi, or the next Brad Daugherty (injuries aside.) O'Bryant can always get stronger, work on his post moves, and bulk up etc. But it will be his work ethic and hunger that will probably determine his success at the next level more than anything. O'Bryant wasn't even on scouts radars before putting together a string of impressively dominant performances late in the season, capped off by some great play for the Braves in the NCAA tournament. He's a late-bloomer to be sure and while down the road may become a good if not great NBA player, I just don't see him in a Toronto uniform when all is said and done with this year's draft. Even if the Raptors make a deal to trade down, I get the feeling that Colangelo is looking for some more immediate help ala Morrison or someone with a lot more upside ala Bargnani.
In addition to the three players profiled above, point guards Rajon Rondo and Marcus Williams participated as well making for what I imagine were some nice 2-on-2 scenarios with the bigs. The recall of Rondo and Williams is probably for a tie-breaker in case Toronto ends up in a position to draft either of them while the matchup of the bigs should have provided some insight on just how NBA-ready Patrick O'Bryant is. In fact of all the players in attendance, perhaps O'Bryant was feeling the most heat as he was going up in a similar shot-blocking threat in Justin Williams and a stronger and better offensive threat in Torin Francis. As well, Raps brass probably took the opportunity to evaluate O'Bryant on the receiving end of passes from perhaps the best two point guards in the draft. In terms of the point guards, it seems like Rondo may have gotten the advantage simply based on the fact that Williams was fighting some flu-like symptoms. It's evident however that Williams is working to get in better shape as he indeed has dropped four or five pounds even from his last workout with the Raptors. To hear interviews from today's workout click here for coverage from Raptors.com.