For the rest of the month, we'll be previewing some prospects the Raptors could consider taking at #9. Today, we'll look at Gonzaga power forward Domantas Sabonis.
Gonzaga - Power forward - 6'10 - 240 - 6'11 Wingspan - Born May 3, 1996
2015-16 Stats: 17.6 PTS - 11.8 REB - 1.8 AST - 0.9 BLK - 64.1 FG% - 35.7 3P% - 76.9 FT%
Domantas Sabonis, the son of Hall of Fame centre Arvydas Sabonis, is one of the most intriguing prospects available in the 2016 NBA Draft. Sabonis is coming off a fantastic sophomore campaign at Gonzaga where he played a huge part in guiding the Bulldogs into the Sweet Sixteen, and his growth hasn't gone unnoticed in NBA circles.
The Lithuanian possesses non-stop energy and a sweet shooting stroke for a player of his size. He's highly capable of fighting with opposing bigs as a post defender and excels at positioning as a result of his perfect timing.
From Draft Express:
Outside of his offensive ability, Sabonis does his best work by far as a rebounder. Ranking among the best per-minute offensive and defensive rebounders in our top-100, the young big man has tremendous instincts and pursues the ball with great intensity as his motor runs consistently hot. Sabonis' toughness and fundamentals make him a terrific area rebounder, while his anticipation allows him to pull down some caroms outside of his area as well compensating for his lack of great explosiveness and then some.
Sabonis lacks length and lateral quickness, but he'll likely be heavily used in pick-and-rolls as a pro. His 6'11 wingspan is tiny for his 6'10 frame, which means he'll have a distinct length disadvantage against the league's best big men.
Right now, Sabonis is projected to go to the Memphis Grizzlies at No. 17 at Draft Express. Poeltl is slated to go in the ninth spot to Toronto. You can read Sean Woodley's prospect preview on Poeltl here.
Many experts predict Sabonis' career path will follow Luis Scola's, and it's a fair comparison. The 20-year-old is extremely crafty and can find openings due to his fantastic footwork and patience. Unlike Arvydas, who was a giant that passed the ball like a guard, Domantas relies on mobility and touch to get the job done.
More from DX:
Shooting a sensational 67 percent on post ups, Sabonis seldom struggled to make his presence felt on the block at the college level, but he does have some questions to answer as he makes the jump to the next level. The lefty predictably turns over his right shoulder almost exclusively on his initial move, leading to some offensive fouls. His lack of length also raises some concerns about his ability to be as imposing of a weapon as he was in college game where his physical tools were frequently superior to those of the players he was matched up with in WCC play.
Assuming Bismack Biyombo departs for a lucrative contract in free agency, the Raptors are going to have a hole to fill behind Jonas Valanciunas at the five. Valanciunas is in the middle of breaking out, which means drafting a centre may not be necessary. Power forward was the weakest link for the Raptors this year, and the high draft pick provides Toronto with a rare opportunity to select a talented player that can anchor the spot for years.
A Sabonis-Valanciunas pairing would be especially awesome considering the basketball-crazed nation they both hail from. At his workout on June 6, Sabonis told the Toronto media "In Lithuania, we say basketball is our religion." Side note: If you haven't seen the documentary on Lithuania's 1992 national basketball team, The Other Dream Team, go fire up your Netflix right now and watch it. It's phenomenal, plus it features a young JV!
Patrick Patterson, who has one year remaining on a 3-year, $18M deal, is not a guarantee to return next offseason. Toronto has a major hole at the four spot, so taking a young power forward at No. 9 makes all the sense in the world for the Dinos.
Make no mistake: Sabonis' stock has been on the rise in the last few months. But when you consider other higher rated prospects like Henry Ellenson, Skal Labissiere and Deyonta Davis could be on the board, it may be a reach for the Raps to take Arvydas' kid so early.
On the heels of their best season in franchise history, the Raptors are in win-now mode. I believe Sabonis is going to be a solid player in this league, but I'm not sure if he can provide the same type of immediate impact as the other prospects listed above. If Sabonis is somehow still available at No. 27 it would be an absolute steal to take him, but I highly doubt he'll drop that far.
What do you guys think about Gonzaga's Domantas Sabonis?