More workouts, more workouts!
Slowly but surely the Toronto Raptors are making their way through an entire field of NBA draft prospects. By my count, the club has brought in 28 of DraftExpress' top 100 prospects, and considering they won't get a look at the top 15 or so guys based on where they're picking, that means the club has seen approximately 33 per cent of the top options from this year's crop.
And next week there are still two more workouts to go.
It's as thorough a process as I've seen having covered the club's draft process for the past nine seasons and exciting considering the number of picks the club currently has for the upcoming draft.
Let's get to today's session:
Markel Brown - 6-3, G - Oklahoma State: The four-year Senior averaged 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists for the Cowboys last season. A very solid complement to stud Marcus Smart, Brown shot 38 per cent from long-range last season.
Verdict: Really glad the Raptors brought Brown in for a look as having watched him a fair amount last season, I wondered if he perhaps had a future in the league. He's a bit undersized for the shooting guard spot at the next level, but will make up for it with solid length, and some ridiculous athletic talents. He can shoot the ball, is great attacking in transition, and can probably be a solid defender when he's locked in, something that didn't always happen in college. In many ways he reminds me a bit of Shannon Brown, a player who used his athleticism and long-range shooting to carve out a nice little NBA career.
Markel Starks - 6-2, G - Georgetown: The other Markel in this workout, Starks averaged 17 points and 4 assists and 2 rebounds per game last year for the Hoyas. Starks is much more of a point guard option at the next level than Brown, but he's still got some work to do in that area.
Verdict: Starks is kind of an intriguing player too. He's no Tyler Ennis, but he's got the size, strength, and athletic ability to be an interesting change-of-pace guard off the pine, able to bully his way to the basket in dare-I-say-it, a "Kyle Lowry" type way? He needs to improve his shooting from long-range (although he shot 87 per cent from the free throw line last season so he should be able to get there) and and his ball-handling, but I wouldn't be surprised if he stands out today due to his style of play and competitive nature.
LaQuinton Ross - 6-7, F - Ohio State: A breakout performer two seasons ago in the NCAA tourney, Ross was a disappointment on most accounts this past season. His club lost to Dayton in the second round of March Madness, and he just didn't perform as many expected he would in the wake of DeShaun Thomas' departure. Ross averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds for the Buckeyes last season.
Verdict: Go back to school. Ross elected to head for the draft, foregoing his senior season but I'm not entirely sure I understand the logic. As noted, he didn't have a great campaign, and at best he's a second-round prospect right now, and perhaps will go undrafted. He's got solid physical tools for the next level, and perhaps can be a decent option in terms of spreading the floor but it was hard not to watch him at Ohio State and wonder just what benefit he brings to an NBA club. He's not a great defender, tends to be a black hole on offense, doesn't finish well in traffic. The only big plus is his ability to draw fouls and I worry a lot of that disappears playing against quicker and bigger defenders in the NBA. Also...about that body fat percentage...
Jamil Wilson - 6-6, G/F - Marquette: Wilson averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds for the Golden Eagles last season in his Senior campaign. He shot 43 per cent from the field, and 33 per cent from long range.
Verdict: Like Ross, Wilson is another player I had higher expectations of last season. He's got nice size and athleticism for his position, and I hoped to see him add a few new wrinkles to his offence as one of the go-to options for Buzz Williams. That didn't really happen though, and I'm not sure Wilson now gets drafted come two weeks' time. However kudos to the Raptors again for getting a look at as many of these long, athletic swingman types as possible and at worst, he should provide a nice workout partner for Ross.
Clint Capela - 6-11, F/C - Switzerland: Capela averaged 9 points, 7 assists and a block and a half per game in French league action last season. He played only 22 minutes per game, but showed the potential to be major factor defensively and around the rim at the next level, and his draft stock has been steadily climbing in the past few weeks.
Verdict: Another nice get by the Raptors and obviously the "marquee" name on today's workout list. We've previewed Capela at length already so I won't dwell, but suffice to say that here's hoping he's still around at 37, if not 20.
Artem Klimenko - 7-1, C - Russia: No stats available.
Verdict: Here's the player I know the least about in this session. By a long shot. But another nice idea by the Raptors to have him work out versus the uber-athletic Capela as Klimenko is ranked in the top 40 of Draftexpress 2014 database. From a recent piece by ESPN.com's Chad Ford on this year's top international prospects, where Klimenko was ranked sixth:
Klimenko is playing in the second division in Russia, which means he was hardly scouted this year. Luckily NBA scouts got to see him at the adidas Eurocamp last year and felt he was one of the best defenders at the camp. He's huge (7-1 with a 7-4 wingspan and a 9-4 standing reach), he runs the floor well and has the potential to be a terrific defensive player.
But like both Porzingis and Capela, he's very much a work in progress. He lacks the strength to guard his position at the moment, he lacks toughness and he needs to add a true post game. In short, he's several years away from being able to contribute at the NBA level, but if he develops, he'd be a steal in the late first round or early second round.
Sounds like the definition of a "stash-him-overseas" type player and perhaps that's something Toronto does if he's still around in the second round.
For a full breakdown of Klimenko, here is Draftexpress' scouting video: