Mock drafts are a constant source of entertainment here at the HQ.
It’s especially been intriguing over the years to see players like Chris Taft and Daniel Gibson ranked as the top players in their class at various points in time...only to see them eventually come back to earth as the actual draft day draws near.
And who can forget when 6 out of 7 draft sites had the Raptors taking Andre Iguodala only to have that seventh site, which unbelievably was TSN.ca, forecasting correctly with the selection of Rafael Araujo.
I guess the point we’re making is that mock drafts are just that – mocks. The reality portion is sometimes few and far between and most sites usually involve some combination of guesswork and research. With the exception of sites like DraftExpress and to a lesser extent, ESPN.com, most draft-centered locales just don’t have the dedicated resources to get a good feel for a player’s value. But it’s still fun to browse through the various online arenas and see who has which player slated where. And with the draft lottery out of the way, mock drafts have suddenly become a whole lot more useful as most are now taking into account team needs in their ranking system.
So let’s take a spin around the internet and see who is envisioning what for the Raptors and the 17th pick.
Nicolas Batum: 6'8 SF: France
Howland: Why is it I read this and think, "Of course they have us taking a Euro." This is one of a handful of guys we know very little about due to the lack of TV time.
Here’s a excerpt from the Draftexpress page on the Frenchman.
"Batum should be topping this chart, he should have taken this edition of the Euroleague by storm. Nobody, not a single player, comes close to combining his physical gifts and skill repertoire. Instead, we’re hearing an already familiar tune: inconsistency, a certain lack of character and… perhaps some softness(?) mixed in with stretches of impressive play that only a freakish athlete like him is capable of deliver."
What’s seems to be clear from the reports is that Batum has all of the talent in the world, he just has not harnessed it yet and there is some doubt that he has the desire to become as good as his athleticism would allow. In some ways his reviews remind me a lot of VC. Athletic freak, game comes easy, but doesn’t always have the desire. The other knock, also similar to VC, is his unwillingness to take it to the hoop and draw the foul. It’s hard to get a real feel for a player you have not seen much of but I know this, if he doesn’t have a desire to use his
talents to the best of his ability I am willing to take a flyer. It would be interesting to hear Gheradini’s take on Batum.
Franchise: I watched an absolutely revolting amount of college basketball this year but like Howland, this is one player I can’t really comment on. Sure, the international angle makes sense I suppose, but this choice by Draftexpress frankly surprises me with players like Donte Green, Marreese Speights, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Robin Lopez all still on their board after the Raptors choose. These guys all seem to be better fits for the Raps but hey, what does anyone really know at this point? I’d REALLY rather not see Toronto take Batum in June but perhaps BC and the Godfather know something we don’t.
Robin Lopez: 7'0 Center
Howland: The lesser half of the Lopez twins Robin looks to fall somewhere in the later half of the draft while Brook looks to go top five. What is it with Stanford and twins!
Chad Ford sees a little bit of Varejao in Robin Lopez. We see a solid, but far from spectacular draft prospect. If you were to use one word to describe Lopez it would be solid. Although not nearly as polished as his brother on the offensive end, Robin does have good touch from about 10 feet in, is a great rebounder and also has a propensity for blocking shots (2.3 per game.)
One of the biggest questions surrounding Robin is whether he can develop into more than a rotation player. He still needs to add some bulk without sacrificing any of his agility or athleticism and he is going to need some time to become a good player. Give the Raps inability to develop young big men as of late a project centre without a high ceiling could be a questionable move.
Franchise: I like this mock choice and I think it makes a lot of sense. At some point this season, Rasho is going to make very interesting trade bait. But there’s no way the Raps can move him without shoring up what is already a weak front-line. A Varejao type player would really help in this area and I think Lopez might be a nice defensive fit besides CB4. When you’re picking at 17 you’re looking for best value usually (unless someone ranked much higher slides) and I think Toronto would get that here.
Donte Green - 6'11 F
Howland: Well we all know Leo Rautins would love seeing a kid from Syracuse on this Raps squad. Another one of the great freshman from this past NCAA season, Donte Green is essentially an oversized SF. This year for the Orangemen he averaged 17 plus points and 7 plus boards a game. On paper and too the eye he looks like a phenomenal prospect, but like everyone once you get to this part of the draft there are questions.
The first question that jumps off the page shot selection and selfishness. Despite his solid jumper, Green took over seven 3’s a game this past season. That’s chucking! Much like Batum there are questions about his toughness, desire and willingness to take a hit and get to the line.
Franchise: I probably saw Syracuse play more than any other team this year besides perhaps Pitt or Georgetown so I got to see lots of Green. First off, on potential alone I doubt he falls this far to Toronto. However if he does, Green is a player the Raps would have to take a long and hard look at. If you’ve seen him play, you know that he oozes potential and were it not for his shot selection and Syracuse’s rough finish (their last minute implosion to Cincy was the biggest heart stab for a team that I saw all year) than perhaps we’d be talking a top five pick here. For me, Green is an Al Harrington clone; that big, strong, athletic guy who is only a decent rebounder and plays a style that does little to take advantage of his physical attributes. If he’s around at 17 his upside value in a trade might be worth a selection alone. I’m just not sure he’s a great fit for the Raptors at this point in time.
Nicolas Batum - See above. (And yes, we still don’t want to draft him.)
Javale McGee – 7-0 PF-C
Howland: Who? Where did this guy come from? He weighs 237 and is a seven-footer? Are we trying to get Loren Woods back now? McGee has been one of those fast risers on mock drafts since late in the NCAA season. He’s one of the more athletic bigs, and is a player who could really look great in workouts and catch some team’s eye. We’re guessing that would be Minnesota.
Franchise: This is one of the only players in the draft who played NCAA D1 ball last year that evaded my gaze. Nevada just wasn’t a great team this year, and was never on TV so like Batum, I don’t have much I can comment on. I will say that an athletic seven-footer is always intriguing, but I think McGee has project written all over him. I’m just not sure BC wants to be too patient with this pick unless he’s going to deal it elsewhere. So for now, I’m going to say I don’t like the chances of him in a Raptors’ uni next season.
And as a final note, Howland and I will have a chance to get a closer look at many of these prospects ourselves. The Toronto Raptors have graciously allowed us media access to many of the pre-draft workouts (beginning after June 3) which should make for some great reads here on the site.
A big thanks to Jim LaBumbard and his staff for making this possible as it should provide some invaluable insight into this year's draft process.