RaptorsHQ is excited to see two of its top draft options drop by the ACC this morning for workouts...
Another day, another set of potential draft prospects in to visit the Toronto Raptors.
Unlike the Memphis Grizzlies, who are reportedly struggling to get guys through the door, the Dinos certainly are not, and with their fifth pre-draft workout continue to follow the "leave no stone unturned mantra."
Today's participants include:
Thomas Heurtel, Guard, 6-2, France
Eric Bledsoe, Guard, 6-2, Kentucky
Xavier Henry, Guard/Forward, 6-7, Kansas
Paul George, Forward, 6-9, Fresno State
Tyler Wilkerson, Forward, 6-8, Marshall
Patrick Patterson, Forward, 6-9, Kentucky
Another pretty strong list.
Originally I believe Avery Bradley was supposed to be included in this session as well, however a sprained ankle appears to be limiting his ability to work out. Don't mistake this as for some "political-agent-stuff" either, I know quite well that he loves Toronto and is hoping he lands here on draft day.
It's a shame however we can't see him going up against Bledsoe, a similar prospect in many respects. Both are great defenders, have blazing speed and elite athletic ability (although Bradley has the edge here) and need to hone their point guard skills in a big way.
Nevertheless, seeing Bledsoe up close will be a great addition to our scouting reports here as he's a tough guy to get a read on.
Did playing side-kick to John Wall overshadow just how good this kid can be?
That's the question on many GM's minds right now I'm guessing, and so for a kid like this, a "one-and-doner," workouts are probably a lot more important in terms of getting a feel for their abilities etc.
Contrast that to another participant today, Patrick Patterson.
Patterson is coming off a solid Junior season at Kentucky where he averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds and a block a game. Hardly dominant numbers but very nice when you consider he played beside perhaps the top low-post threat in the country, DeMarcus Cousins, and the elite back-court of John Wall and the aforementioned Bledsoe.
He's not an "en vogue" pick right now, but he's one of the safest bets in the draft. He'll immediately be able to come in and help a club in many ways but because his "upside" isn't on the same level as some of his peers, there's a good possibility he drops out of the lottery range. If so, I'm betting he'll go down as one of those historical draft-day steals, similar to a Carl Landry (a similar player coming out of college in fact) or a Tayshaun Prince.
I'm not overly enamored with him, but you could certainly do a lot worse at 13.
Moving from "safe pick" to "pick that could get you fired," we turn to Paul George. Personally, this is one of my favourite players of this draft. He had an uneven year at Fresno for sure, and is hardly a polished product like Patterson, but it's hard not to be completely intrigued by his skill-set; put simply, he's got all the intangibles you'd want in an NBA small forward.
At the worst I think he'll become a Wilson Chandler type, hardly a bad thing, but on the high side the sky is really the limit if he puts in the time. He needs to work on areas like ball-handling and shot selection, and he'll need to step up his D and beef up of course.
Finally, on the flip side of George, we have Kansas product Xavier Henry.
With his chiselled physique and much more NBA-ready game, I expect him to come in and have an impact from day one. He's not the most athletic guy in the draft, but he finds ways to get it done at both ends, and is already a tremendous catch-and-shoot player, something the Raptors lacked from the 2-3 position last season.
Unlike George, who duplicates many of the skill-sets possessed currently by DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems, Henry would complement what TO has currently in its back-court and probably would be able to step in and play major minutes from day one, something that probably appeals to Bryan Colangelo.
No, he's probably not a future All-Star, but at 13 I certainly feel that he's a great value, especially since he's projected to go in the top 10.
One final note on Henry - a player Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun and I threw around as a comparison?
None other than former Raptors Mo Pete when he first came into the league.