Raptors Ready To Shorten List With Draft Days Away

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

The Toronto Raptors held their 11th draft workout on Monday afternoon. With draft week officially upon us, general manager Masai Ujiri spoke with reporters about narrowing the team’s options for Thursday night.

“I think by tomorrow we should kind of be around five players at 20 and about 600 at 37,” Ujiri said with a smile.

Slated to select 20th, 37th and 59th overall, the team has been bringing in a variety of players to try to create a list of prospects desired at each pick.

Related: Watch Monday's Pre-Draft Workout Video

While Ujiri said team needs would include a big wing player who can defend as well as a shot blocker, the team is aiming to grab the best player available with the 20th pick. 

With free agency happening after draft night, a team committed to selecting the best talent available can wind up drafting a player in a position they already have filled. Ujiri waved off the impact Kyle Lowry’s impending free-agent status would have on draft night.

“We’re going full force after Kyle Lowry and if there’s a talented point guard in the draft we know that it’s going to be tough to come and contribute to where our team is off the bat,” Ujiri said. “We’ll go for talent in the draft, but Kyle Lowry is our target and we’ll try to get that done."

At this point in the process, many guys, especially non-lottery locks, have gone through grueling workout schedules that have seen them spending the better part of a month traveling, sometimes with less than 24 hours logged in each city. 

After watching players for the better part of the season, gathering intel on potential picks and then seeing them at the combine, sometimes the biggest takeaway from an in-person workout comes away from the court.

“We do the interviews in Chicago, you see the personal side,” Ujiri said. “I think they are well trained since Chicago. Sometimes it’s rehearsed, but if it’s rehearsed well, then they are good, you know? Here we like to put them in a nice situation, bring them to the director’s lounge and hang out with them, talk to them individually. Try to get as much information as you can get and it’s a good setting I think to keep them a little bit relaxed. It’s not like Chicago where it’s an interview. The guys we narrow it down to, those ones are the ones we pay particular attention to.”

When drafting a player who isn’t a lottery pick expected to have an impact immediately, part of the job of scouting is to recognize potential.

“We have to figure it out,” Ujiri said. “We have to figure out where a player is now and where he could be four years from now, two years from now and how much growth he can have with a good program, good coaching, good players around him. You have to put that all into the situation."