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Workouts for June 4, 2008 - Some Big, Some Small

Robin Lopez tops the HQ's list for today's workout invites...

Robin Lopez tops the HQ's list for today's workout invites...

Today’s workouts showcase some varied positions for the Raptors but mostly examine the really big and the really small without much in between.

Let’s get right into them...

Who is he?
6-10 Sophomore forward from California.

Last Year: Averaged 21.1 points and 9.9 rebounds for the Bears.

What Can He Do? Anderson was one of the best offensive players in the country last year. His Cal team underperformed, but with his size and perimeter shooting ability, Anderson emerged as a potential late first round pick as the season wore on. His shooting ability is definitely his best asset and last season he hit almost 50 per cent of his shots from the field, including over 40 per cent from beyond the arc.

The main knock on Anderson however is that he lacks the explosive agility or athletic skills of say a Joe Alexander, a very similar player in many respects. In the NBA, his size projects as a 3-4 however there are questions as to whether he can bang with the 4’s, and keep up with the 3’s.

The Bottom Line: Matt Bonner. Austin Croshere. Troy Murphy. Take your pick. Scouts have compared Anderson to all of the above and with his offensive repertoire, he should find a home late in the first round or early in the second this year.

But from a Toronto standpoint, I don’t think Anderson is a good fit as he duplicates many of the attributes of Andrea Bargnani. Really, I think Anderson was mainly brought in to match-up with the next prospect on our list, Kosta Koufos and will be earning his keep elsewhere next season.

Who is he?
7-foot Freshman center from Ohio State.

Last Year: Averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Buckeye while blocking almost two shots a game.

What Can He Do? Koufos was supposed to be the next big thing at Ohio State with the departure of Greg Oden. He had a solid freshman campaign, but failed to tear up the NCAA as some expected.

He’s simply not a giant physical presence at this point in time despite his size. He’s more of a "big" in the Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Mehmet Okur mould, a sweet-shooting big man with a soft touch around the basket.

However despite his soft hands, he struggles to finish at the rim due to his lack of athletic ability and his lack of an NBA level physique. He’s just a freshman so will no doubt fill out, but Koufos is definitely still a project at this stage.

The Bottom Line: Just like Anderson, here’s another player I’ll take a pass on if I’m the Raps. Yes, stockwise he might seem like a nice option at 17 as he definitely has first round talent, but does Bryan Colangelo really want another big who avoids the paint? Koufos is no defensive force and after watching him fail to dominate smaller players at Ohio State last year, I still think he’d be best served returning to school for another season. It doesn’t look like he’s even considering that at this point though so perhaps he’ll make a great value pick for some team late in the first round. For Toronto though, this is one project I think they should stay away from.

Who is he?
7-foot Sophomore from Stanford.

Last Year: Averaged 10.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks for the Cardinals.

What Can He Do? Defend. Lopez is the best defensive big-man in the draft at this point in time. He may not have the upside or athleticism of some of the other bigs like DeAndre Jordan or JaVale MaGee, but Lopez looks like a player who could come into the NBA and help a team immeidately from a defensive standpoint.

He’s definitely not as polished offensively as his twin brother Brook, but seems to have that Joakim Noah/Anderson Varejao style of game. He’s an excellent rebounder and defender, a superb shot-blocker, and is a consistently active body in the paint.

The Bottom Line: Lopez marks the first player in workouts so far that I’d like to see the Raptors take a long, hard look at when they’re on the clock at 17. Lopez might not be the slashing 3 this team needs, but you could do much worse than drafting a Noah clone (with more focussed intensity in my opinion) as he provides many things that Toronto currently lacks. Tops on this list obviously is his energy and aggressiveness on the glass, an area we all know that Toronto has had issues with seemingly forever. Lopez however could easily be gone before the Raps pick if he excels in workouts. Teams love legit 7-footers who can contribute right away and Lopez looks to fit the bill.

Who is he?
6-foot Senior point guard from Michigan State.

Last Year: Averaged 13.9 points, and 4.0 assists while shooting almost 40 per cent from both the field and from 3 for the Spartans.

What Can He Do? Neitzel is a gunner, plain and simple. He’s played a point guardish role for the Spartans throughout his college career but he’s not exactly a floor general. And at 6 feet with limited athleticism, he’ll have to make his mark in the NBA by doing what he does best...shooting the rock.

Neitzel in fact represents just how good players are the NBA level. In college, Neitzel was one of the most feared players coming off screens, able to light it up from anywhere on the court. He also had adequate size and quickness to get to the rim. That won’t be the case at the next level and because of this, I don’t expect Neitzel to be chosen on draft night.

The Bottom Line: Really the bottom line here for Toronto is filling out a workout. Neitzel brings very little to the table for the Raps and besides being an excellent workout partner for Jeremy Pargo, Neitzel will probably have to hawk his basketball trade overseas next year.

Who is he?
6-2 Junior guard from Gonzaga.

Last Year: Averaged 12.1 points and 6.0 assists for the Zags.

What Can He Do? Pargo, like his brothers, is an undersized scoring guard. At 6-2, he’s not exactly your prototypical NBA shooting guard, and with more of a scorers mentality, isn’t exactly a traditional point either. Ah yes, the dreaded combo label.

But Pargo is probably a better point guard than many give him credit for and he can certainly score off the bounce using his quickness and athletic ability. If he returns to school for another season, a distinct possibility at this point, he should be able to hone his point guard skills and work on his shot selection.

The Bottom Line: I like Pargo, but he never seems to be able to step it up on the big stage. He had a poor camp in Orlando, a rough NCAA tournament, and just never really stood out when I saw him play. That being said, he would make an interesting second round pick for a team looking for a player with plenty of potential. I just don’t think though that Toronto is that team.

Thompson was a man among boys in the MAC last year...

Thompson was a man among boys in the MAC last year...

Who is he?
6-11 Senior forward from Rider.

Last Year: Averaged 20.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks.

What Can He Do? Thompson looks like a traditional NBA power forward and has the game to back it up. He’s got legit size and athletic ability and the skill set to complement his physical attributes.

However the "who is he" piece we do for each prospect is perhaps nowhere more necessary than with Thompson, a player many know little about. I only got to see him play twice on tv last year, both times against other MAC competition in gyms that looked eerily similar to might high school gym on PEI. Yes, perhaps that means that Thompson hasn’t exactly had to bang with the big boys of the Big East or Pac10, but Thompson is no slouch. In fact, he was one of the standouts from Lebron James’ camp a while back and has played quite well against other top bigs like Michael Beasley and JJ Hickson.

The Bottom Line: I’m not sure Thompson fils a need for Toronto but he is a very nice looking prospect. Toronto has plenty at the 4 but this is a player I could very well see going late in the first round only to prove to be a steal. Does Toronto take a shot on him at 17? That I doubt, but keeping track on his draft status might not be a bad idea if the Raptors are looking to re-enter the second round.

Conclusion: Of all these prospects, my favourite would have to be Flip Saunders. Oh wait, wrong article. Yes, with Saunders being released by the Pistons yesterday, this should bring up a number of new "fire Sam" comments on the site. I doubt BC makes a move even with a coach of Saunders’ calibre now available however it is definitely worth musing over.

But back to the topic at hand.

Of today’s prospects, Robin Lopez interests me the most by far. This is a legit option at 17 for the Raptors in my opinion, and a player who probably would be able to play some significant minutes starting next season. He’s definitely a defensive upgrade over Kris Humphries, and is an everything upgrade over Maceo Baston.

Beyond Lopez, I like Jason Thompson a lot however I’m not sure there aren’t better options out there at 17. And in regards to the others, well, some of them seem to have been selected less as potential draft choices, but more as suitable workout partners. Both Neizel and Pargo are shooting guards trapped in point guards bodies, and on the side of the "bigs," it will be interesting to see how finesse outside shooters like Koufos and Anderson do against low-post bangers like Lopez and Thompson.


Upcoming Workouts

Thursday: Alexis Ajinca, Chris Douglas-Roberts, DeVon Hardin, Mykal Riley, Brandon Rush, Bill Walker