It's a busy day for draft workouts down at the Air Canada Centre. The HQ takes a look at the participants...
Oh the politics of the NBA draft.
Later today I'm going to discuss this topic a bit more but the latest example of agents attempting to control the NBA draft process is unfolding at the Air Canada Centre as you read this. The Toronto Raptors have another busy day of workouts and while they're getting three marquee names in for a look, none are playing against each other.
That's right, UCONN's Jeremy Lamb, Duke's Austin Rivers and North Carolina's Harrison Barnes are all scheduled to be in the house but will not be in direct competition. Each is taking part in one of three separate pre-draft sessions today, with Barnes going the Damian Lillard route and coming in for a solo examination, something we'll also touch on later. Unfortunately it appears that the Dinos won't get a full view of Lamb, who has pulled out of the first workout session due to an undisclosed injury. We'll keep you in the loop on that situation but in the meantime, here's our quick take on each of the aforementioned three, as well as a look at a few other notable workout participants:
Jeremy Lamb - 6-5, G, UCONN: Right now mock drafts seem to be split right down the middle as to whom the Raptors will be selecting if they keep the eighth pick. Half are touting Dion Waiters as Toronto's guy, the other half have Mr. Lamb, and for good reason.
At first glance Lamb looks like a steal at 8. He's just a tad over 6-5 but has a ridiculous 6-11 wingspan, 38 inch vertical, and averaged 19 points a game for UCONN last season. He oozes potential and his ability to knock down the long-range shot would seem to make him a solid fit for the anemic Raptors' perimeter crew.
However I'm not sold. Tim Chisholm in a recent post summed up my thoughts in their entirety so I'll simply say this: I see much more Rashad McCants in Lamb than Kevin Martin or Rudy Gay. Lamb just doesn't play with enough aggression despite his formidable physical traits and I worry if he's not cut in the same vein as former Raptor Charlie Villanueva; he's got all the tools, but just doesn't care enough consistently to use them to their max potential.
Kim English - 6-6, G, Missouri: Great work again by the Raps to get someone in to present a challenge for the marquee workout guy. In this case we're talking about English, one of the draft's best shooters and a player with legit size and quickness to match up with Lamb. (This workout also has guards Dee Bost of Mississippi State and Alex Johnson of NC State participating, but it's English who's the 1A to Lamb's 1.)
English had a true shooting percentage of 66 per cent last year, close to if not tops, amongst his peers, so indeed we're talking about an elite gunner here, and a legit second-round option for the Raps. In the same vein as Jodie Meeks who found a home with Philly, English might be a steal of a late second-round pick and with a PER of 20.6, we're not talking about a player who simply chucks it up. English can run some point as well and was a huge reason Missouri had such a strong regular season campaign last year. If the Raps could land him at 56, you'd have to be pretty content.
Austin Rivers - 6-5 - G - Duke: We now move to the second workout session today, another quartet featuring two very intriguing players. Rivers is the marquee man though, a potential lottery pick thanks to his scoring ability and basketball lineage. The son of Doc Rivers can fill it up. Everyone remembers his individual heroics this season to beat UNC at the buzzer, but he also averaged nearly 16 points a game on a very talented Duke team.
However even as a Duke fan, I've labelled Rivers with a "buyer beware" sticker since day one. It's not his apparent cockiness. It's not his issues running the point (I see him as a 2 in the NBA.) It's more that I simply don't think he's that great of an NBA prospect. Yes he scores, but not very efficiently, and has a ways to go in terms of finishing at the rim and drawing contact. (You thought DeMar was bad.) His PER was a measly 16.8, a testament to the fact that he just doesn't do much other than attempt to score. If the Raptors had a pick in the 15 to 24 range, sure. But at 8, if they keep the pick, I think there are a lot better options out there.
Scott Machado - 6-2 - G - Iona: Midway through last year's NCAA season a buzz began to grow about a certain Gaels' point guard, who could pass like Steve Nash. Suddenly I was tuning into late night MAAC games to catch a glimpse of a potential NBA prospect and within minutes of watching Scott Machado play, you could see what the hype was about.
Machado simply is your proverbial pass-first PG who makes the game easier for others around him. He was the MAAC player of the year and averaged nearly 10 assists per game as well as nearly 5 rebounds and 14 points (with a TS% of 61!) He's not an elite athlete and there are legit questions about the level of competition he faced during his NCAA career, but it's hard not to think that like English, he wouldn't be worth a late second-round pick.