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  On Mighty Mouse, Kanter & More

May 31, 2011, 3:37 PM

- According to CBSSports.com, sources have indicated University of Memphis head coach John Pastner is poised to hire first-ever Raptors rookie draft pick Damon Stoudemire as an assistant with the Tigers. Both are products of the University of Arizona in the 90’s, with Stoudemire, the 1995-96 Rookie Of The Year, serving as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies’ coaching staff since 2009.

- We heard president and GM Bryan Colangelo mention it last week on The Score, but thehoopsreport.com reports that Turkish big man Enes Kanter will work out for the Raptors in Chicago on June 6th.

- Speaking of Kanter, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star recently played Raptors GM in an audio mock draft for our friends at Warriors.com on Tuesday, saying “I know they like Kanter an awful lot.” But with Kanter already selected in that mock, Smith made Kemba Walker the pick.

- Things I like hearing from forward Kawhi Leonard, the San Diego State prospect who could be in the mix for the Raptors with the fifth pick: "If my opponent isn’t scoring, then we’re going to win the game. I take a lot of pride in trying to shave points off a players’ average or make sure he doesn’t have a good shooting night."

That quote, courtesy of the Washington Post's Michael Lee, should be music to Raptors fans' ears.

- There’s still over three weeks to go until draft night, but we’re already seeing signs to expect the unexpected in one of the more wide open, fluid drafts in years. Look no further than a big rumoured trade from the weekend that had Cleveland acquiring the second overall pick in this year’s draft in a three-team deal involving the Pistons and Timberwolves. Any spark coming from this rumour appears to have been quickly doused by the Pistons, but the major news here is the Cavs angling to make an even bigger splash than their current selections at first and fourth.

- Finally, some props today for Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo’s excellent Ball Don’t Lie blog, for taking a rational approach to the Raptors’ 60th loss of the regular season, which just happened to ensure home court advantage for the Heat over in the Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

There’s no question that season-ending defeat (mainly against Miami’s reserves) was an ugly way to conclude a tough season. But Dwyer rightfully claims that you can find dozens of such determinants over the course of the season, including the Raptors’ win in Dallas on Dec. 28 -- probably their biggest of the campaign.

  Addressing Some Front Office Space...

May 27, 2011, 9:51 AM

The news that the Raptors are looking to flesh out their front office staff probably shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

There's been an opening after former assistant GM Masai Ujiri departed mid-season for the Nuggets and with only the recently promoted assistant GM Marc Eversley and director of player development Alvin Williams reportedly under contract beyond this offseason, an experienced voice joining the club is probably considered more of a necessity than a luxury.

But according to a report late on Thursday night from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star, the Raptors may not just be making an addition to the front office, it could be a flat out remodeling -- complete with team president and GM Bryan Colangelo bestowing the latter title on a worthy, well-seasoned candidate.

“I’m thinking about bringing in a high-level basketball person to strengthen our management team,” Colangelo told Feschuk. “If I brought someone in and a GM title was part of it, it would be a fairly high-calibre person, probably someone with GM credentials already to their name. It’s all in development right now ... I could bring in one, I could bring in several new people.”

Stay tuned Raptors fans, much more on this to come.

  More From The Draft Combine

May 26, 2011, 3:24 PM

Measurements from the NBA Draft Combine held last weekend in Chicago were out early this week and on Wednesday, sites like DraftExpress.com and thehoopsreport.com began to post some of the athletic testing results which also offered some eye-opening info on several prospects projected to be in the range of the Raptors' fifth pick.

These numbers, of course, tell just a fraction of the tale. But when stacked up historically against other draft classes, you can get a sense of how these guys could fare in the pros.

  • There's been a lot of questions about Kemba Walker's ability to translate his game to the point guard position at the pro level, but his numbers from the combine continue to look impressive. His height measurement was already encouraging (six feet, one inch tall in shoes), but his testing for vertical leap (on par with TJ Ford, Jason Richardson and Josh Smith as prospects) and lane agility was also strong.

  • Brandon Knight has speed to burn, posting the third-best time in the 3/4 sprint this year, which is historically on par with players like Jerryd Bayless and Raymond Felton and not far off the time posted by Derrick Rose. Knight was also near the top of the heap this season in terms of lane agility -- with a time slower than Jameer Nelson or Jrue Holiday, but ahead of the likes of John Wall and Deron Williams.

  • Derrick Williams was a beast in terms of the bench press. The projected top-two pick lifted the bar 19 times to tie Richmond's Justin Harper for top honours at the combine. Conversely, Kawhi Leonard -- identified as a potential sleeper for the Raptors with the fifth pick -- got in just three reps at 185 pounds. The San Diego State forward can take some solace in the fact that players like Al Jefferson (three reps), Tyson Chandler (two) and Kevin Durant (zero) are all doing just fine as pros.

  • Enes Kanter posted some impressive numbers across the board for a player of his size and presumably that's a credit to the work he put in during his year away from playing due to ineligibility. The other potential first-rounder who might receive a boost from athletic testing at the combine? Jimmer Fredette. He's not in the conversation for the Raptors at number five, but the 2011 National Player Of The Year undoubtedly helped his stock with some of those numbers.

    This is just the start of the process in terms of testing. Adidas Eurocamp 2011 will be held in Treviso, Italy from June 11-13 and is going to reveal a lot more about some of the international men of mystery in this draft like Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely and Bismack Biyombo.

    Do We Have Consensus?

    NBA.com has just released its first version of its consensus mock draft, a sort of meta-analysis of several of the more popular mock drafts out there. Perhaps because it's still early in the process or because this year's draft class is truly wide open after the first couple of picks, you can see that there's some wide-ranging opinion on how things will shake out.

    Nonetheless, Walker was the player most frequently pegged to go to the Raptors at five (four times among 12 mocks), while their weighted point system makes Valanciunas the ‘consensus’ pick.

      Bargnani Issues Official Statement

    May 25, 2011, 3:35 PM

    By now many Raptors fans have either read or heard about some recent comments made by Andrea Bargnani on a Sky Sports broadcast that were translated from Italian and interpreted from there.

    Bargnani has responded to some of the media reaction to his words with the following statement this afternoon:

    “I wish to personally clarify and correct an inaccurate portrayal of my words that recently appeared in the media. Much of what I said was taken out of context with respect to an entire conversation.

    “I want to make clear my love for Toronto and that I consider the city a second home. I never said that I want to leave Toronto and I'm sorry if fans interpreted the inaccuracy that way.

    “I am proud to represent Toronto and the Raptors organization. I appreciate what Bryan Colangelo and the organization has done for me during the past five years of my career. I will always continue to work to improve myself as a player in an effort to reward the organization and our fans with the best team possible.”

    Shortly after the statement was released, GM Bryan Colangelo spoke about it during an appearance on The Score's Tim and Sid: Uncut (beginning at the 28-minute mark). It's a lengthy interview that also features some interesting comments about several prospects the Raptors might consider with the fifth pick in the upcoming draft and the future of Jay Triano as head coach.

      Charting The Course For Canada Basketball

    May 4, 2011, 4:24 PM

    Just a heads up regarding the 2011 Canadian Basketball Congress, an event the Raptors are going to be supporting from May 26-28 at the Royal York Hotel here in Toronto.

    With the program poised to make some serious strides on court in the coming years, the focus of the two-day session is going to be on keeping those development efforts unified and growing.

    There's going to be some very interesting international representatives talking shop at the summit, including Jim Tooley (executive director, USA Basketball), Patrick Baumann (secretary general of FIBA), Alberto Garcia (secretary general of FIBA Americas) plus Canada Basketball executive director and CEO Wayne Parrish.

    Check out Canada Basketball's official website for more details on how to register plus more on specific topics of discussion for the Summit.

    Calderon Ready To Represent Spain Once Again

    Jose Calderon is gearing up for one busy year of basketball beginning later this summer.

    The point guard spoke with FIBA.com on Wednesday about helping Spain try and defend their Eurobasket title this summer in Lithuania, where the finalists earn berths at the 2012 London Games.

    That makes two major international tournaments book-ending a full NBA season (fingers crossed) for Calderon, who was forced out of his last major event -- the 2010 Worlds in Turkey.

    The Gym Rat Returns To Work

    Calderon is going to begin work with Spain this weekend, but he's not the only Raptor putting in some work this early in May.

    @DeMar_DeRozan: Back at it starting today!

    He’d later admit to the Thunder’s James Harden that he was just getting up a few shots, but unless you were expecting him to be climbing the San Gabriel Mountains Rocky IV-style, you’ve got to be impressed with the dedication to improving before it's shorts weather here in T.O.

      Top Five Raptors Performances This Season

    May 2, 2011, 11:23 AM

    We're wading into somewhat more contentious territory with this list, strictly because of that far-reaching concept of "Top Performance". Does seven points, four rebounds, two assists and two blocks from Julian Wright in a win trump 41, seven and six from Andrea Bargnani in a loss? What about one vital shot over a better overall line? Should I already be feeling pangs of guilt for omitting Leandro Barbosa or Ed Davis from this list? Well, you tell me.

    Until then, let's call this a starting point for discussion.


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