For the second straight year, the Raptors hold the 20th overall pick in the NBA Draft. We all know who the Raptors took in the slot last season. Grand Overlord Bruno Caboclo was Masai Ujiri's outside-the-box selection that at the time seemed misguided, but given the dearth of surefire rotation players, the team's choice to swing for the fences seems less appalling almost a year later.
This year's draft class is different. In the range the Raptors will find themselves picking, projectable role players will be bountiful. None of the likes of Montrezl Harrell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and R.J. Hunter are likely to be stars in the league, but whether it's tenacious rebounding, in-your-face perimeter defense or knock-down three point shooting, those players and others in the Raptors' range are likely to bring at least one high-level skill to the club that picks them.
Toronto kicked off draft month on Wednesday, holding its first batch of pre-draft workouts. While a couple of Canadians were in attendance (Utah's Dallin Bachynski and Minnesota's Maurice Walker), the real attractions were three guys with the potential to land north of the border on June 25th: Notre Dame point guard Jerian Grant, Arizona small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Virginia guard Justin Anderson.
Here's what you need to know.
Tale of the Tape
Hollis-Jefferson: 6'7, 211 lbs, 7'2 Wingspan / 11.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG / 15th in DX Mock
Anderson: 6'6, 231 lbs, 7'0 Wingspan / 12.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 45.2 3FG% / 22nd in DX Mock
Grant: 6'4, 198 lbs, 6'8 Wingspan / 16.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 6.6 APG / 19th in DX Mock
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson seems like a lot of fun
You may remember me salivating at the idea of landing Hollis-Jefferson during March Madness; his post-workout media scrum did nothing to dissuade me.
You can watch the full scrum here. But CBSSports.com's James Herbert summed it up pretty well with this quote:
rondae hollis-jefferson sang the mcdonald's "ba-da-ba-da-ba" jingle during his scrum today— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) June 3, 2015
Watch the full scrum and try not to smile. His energy is incredibly fun to behold and his love for the game is abundantly clear. He also said he likes to try and model his game in the shape of Kawhi Leonard's, so take that for what it's worth.
Fitting in with the Raptors as currently constructed might be difficult. Defensively he could provide a huge boon to a bottom-ten defense right from the jump, but lacks anything resembling a reliable shot from distance. With James Johnson on the roster already, it would be understandable and almost logical for the Raptors passed on Hollis-Jefferson - but that doesn't mean I'll be any less upset if they do.
Justin Anderson - maybe a "phenomenal" fit?
He may have a less outwardly charismatic personality than Hollis-Jefferson, but Anderson radiated an equal level of likability as his workout counterpart. He came off as truly genuine and dedicated to his craft, something Holly Mackenzie was quick to point out:
today’s standout interview: @JusAnderson1. delightful to hear him talk about the pre-draft process/chasing his dream.— Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack) June 3, 2015
By all accounts, the only thing Anderson failed to bring to the table was a synonym for the word "phenomenal" - which is to say, he seemed to thoroughly impress.
After making a nearly 15 percent jump in his three point shooting this season over his sophomore campaign, Anderson - who was also one of the anchors on the NCAA's second-most efficient defense - might be the kind of floor spacing and defensively sound piece the Raptors lacked on the perimeter last year.
The word from those in attendance was that the players on hand - and in particular the three potential first-rounders - brought a high level of energy and competitiveness to the workout session.
Raptors executive VP of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman had this to say on the intensity level:
"For all of us who've been around and seen a lot of these workouts I would say this was one of the more competitive ones and you can kind of predict that based on who you're bringing in. It was a very high-energy, spirited workout.
"It was a chatty group on the floor. They are the ones that make the workout. Our coaches did a great job of keeping the drills high-energy and moving along quickly and very competitive. But the players make it. They bring the energy and define what the energy is going to be. That's who that are. These guys are go-getters."
Awesome Dunk Clips to Get Your Hopes up Too High
Anderson from late December of this season against Davidson:
Hollis-Jefferson dunking over 7'6 UC Irvine centre Mamadou N'Diaye:
Grant with a Vince-esque dunk that we should have seen way more this year:
Toronto will host two more sets of workouts for draft prospects on June 10th and 13th, with a pair of free agent workouts sandwiched in between. The path eventually leads to the NBA Draft on June 25th.
What do you guys think?