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Pre-Draft Workouts for Friday, June 05, 2009

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Welcome to TO Mr. Flynn...

Welcome to TO Mr. Flynn...

After a few weeks of speculation and rumour, the Toronto Raptors are getting back to business this morning by bringing in a few more players for workouts. While it wasn’t quite the class we were expecting, as you’ll see, there are still a number of very intriguing names for Raptors fans.

It looks like BC and co. structured this run this morning to have a big, a wing and a potential point guard option ready to go 3 on 3, which hopefully should make for some good viewing this morning.

Without any more delay then, let’s take a look at each of the six players who are scheduled to participate later this morning in evaluations:

JONNY FLYNN

Who is he?
6-0 Sophomore Point Guard from Syracuse.

Breakdown Flynn might be the biggest name of the group, and he’s a player who’s only helped his stock recently based on both his combine results, and his on-court play in workouts. Most know about his illustrious college career, and the leadership he displayed in the Big East and NCAA tournaments, not to mention the historic six-overtime game against UCONN that he dominated.

But what I really like about Flynn is that he seems to be the perfect fit for the new-style NBA – ie speedy point guards who can attack off the bounce and get to the rim at will. He’s extremely quick, ridiculously athletic, and can get anywhere he wants to on the court. Yes, he needs to work on his jumper, but while it can be shaky at times, he’s no Rajon Rondo. He also passed the six-foot test in measurements so appears to be somewhat in the Chris Paul mould, again, hardly a bad thing.

The question though is, does it make sense for Toronto to take a point guard at nine? I’m not sure you can really answer that question until you see where the chips start to fall on draft day, but I have this nagging sensation that he’s going to be a very solid NBA player, and possibly the best option on the board if players like Evans, Harden and DeRozan go early. Regardless of the Roko situation, I’d love to see him in a Raptors’ uniform as I think he provides the exact counterpunch to Jose Calderon. Yes he will struggle at times to defend bigger guards, but the same could be said about Aaron Brooks and others who’ve recently found a great amount of success in the league.

JRUE HOLIDAY

Who is he? 6-3 Freshman guard from UCLA.

Breakdown We’ve talked a lot about Holiday lately to the point that I recently dedicated an entire blog post to his impact on the draft.

Like another UCLA alum last year, Holiday is probably the hottest name in the draft, rising on most mock boards from late first round to possibly a top 5 pick in the span of about the last 3 weeks. Perhaps that tells you more about the mock draft process than anything else but in any event, after being less than impressed with his freshman season, I’m very curious to get a good look at him up close in workout settings.

-Can he play the 1?

-Is he a good enough shooter and does he have enough size to play the 2?

These are all big questions surrounding Jrue the Damaja right now and from a Raptors’ standpoint, where does he fit? Could Toronto be looking at him as the perfect combo-guard option; a player who score at the 2 and still at times lead the team at the 1?

It’s an interesting dilemma.

I’m not sure how much this morning’s workouts will go towards making me feel at ease about Holiday’s pro potential, but in any event, I’m looking forward to the match-up between him and Flynn which pits Holiday’s size and all-around abilities against Flynn’s quickness and athleticism.

CHASE BUDINGER

Who is he?
6-7 Junior Forward from Arizona.

Breakdown Chase is a player who we’ve had on our radar for almost three years now at the HQ. Based on his size, hops (one of the best leapers in this draft), and ability to put the ball on the floor and drain the 3, he looked to be a lottery pick as a freshman. Budinger though opted to return for his sophomore year however and if anything, this probably hurt his stock as scouts and GM’s began to pick apart his game. There were many whispers that despite his ability to soar to the rim, he was soft and shied away from contact a lot, opting to rely on his increasing efficient long-range shooting.

Therefore Budinger returned to Arizona for his junior year and while he had his best college season yet, the same questions still remain.

I actually think this is a player however who is underrated. Having watched Budinger almost a dozen times over his college career, I never saw him as a player who lacked aggression or was soft. He did tend to disappear sometimes but in his junior season he was a lot more consistent from game-to-game. He’s actually got one of the best skill-sets in the draft right now, much better than DeRozan or even Evans as Budinger is a better shooter. And while I wouldn’t be grabbing him at 9 if I was the Raptors, he, much like Terrence Williams, is a player that would be very interesting to grab later in the first round.

ALADE AMINU

Who is he? 6-10 Senior Forward from Georgia Tech.

Breakdown I spent most of the season raving about Aminu’s younger brother at Wake Forest, Al-Farouq Aminu however Alade is no slouch. Unfortunately he spent a good chunk of his college career on the bench before really showing his potential last year for Paul Hewitt’s club.

At first glance, Aminu looks like the proverbial 3-4 NBAer. He’s 6-10, extremely long, and is very athletic. However having watched him through the years in ACC action, you know he’s still quite raw.

However as we’ve seen time and time again, that’s part of Aminu’s allure. With his raw physical tools, there’s definitely a number of GM’s out there wondering if given time, they could turn him into a very competent rotation player and as he’s been flying under the radar a bit and appears to be a late bloomer. In fact he made Portsmouth’s All-First Team and looked like an almost completely different player than the one who struggled on underachieving Yellow Jacket clubs.

While Aminu has compared himself to Denver’s "Birdman," ironically, the player he reminds me a lot of is Pops-Mensah Bonsu. Both have very similar physiques (although Pops has bulked up since college) and games, using their physical abilities to compensate for limited offensive tool kits. He won’t be on Toronto’s map at 9, but he could very well make an interesting late first-round or early second-round selection.

DAMION JAMES

Who is he?
6-7 Junior Forward from Texas.

Breakdown James is a bit of an enigma.

He’s got size to play the 3, but doesn’t do much slashing, nor does he compensate by being a killer outside shooter.

As a result, it’s hard to know what to make of him in terms of projecting NBA potential. Some have looked at Luc Richard Mbah a Moute for comparison considering both are excellent defenders who play with grit on each possession, however I’m not sure James has the same raw athletic ability as Prince Luc.

That’s why today it will be interesting to see how he plays against the more athletic and mobile Budinger. If James’ bread and butter in the league is going to be on the defensive end, he will be facing some solid challenges individually today from players like Budinger and Flynn.

I’m not sure there’s much here from a Raptors’ standpoint however that’s not to say I don’t expect him to be drafted. I think some team will fall in love with his intensity and size and grab him in the second round.

GORAN SUTON

Who is he? 6-10 Senior Center from Michigan State.

Breakdown Most folks didn’t know Suton from Martin Iti four months ago however his play in Michigan State’s NCAA tourney run opened some eyes.

With his ability to hit the long-range shot, something obviously en-vogue currently in the L, suddenly Suton was a draft option after years of being viewed as simply another immobile pivot who put up solid college numbers but who had little in terms of pro potential.

The fact is that Suton has been one of the most consistent forces in college ball the past four years. He’s not the most athletic player to come out of the NCAA system, nor does he have many of the intangibles of even a Tyler Hansbrough, but he has a nice all-around game in terms of rebounding, scoring and toughness. He’s got a great basketball IQ, has continuously improved his game, and at worst looks to have a long pro-career in Europe ahead of him.

However of all the players on this list, I’d say that Suton is the least likely to find himself in a Raptors uniform next year.

The Dinos simply don’t need much of what he brings to the table at present so this one appears to be a bit more of a formality than anything else. In fact if I’m comparing Aminu to Pops, I’d use Uros Slokar as a good point of reference for Suton, with Slokar in my opinion, being the more talented of the two.

FRANCHISE