Pre-Draft Workout: June 5th Recap
By Holly MacKenzie
After a series of workouts with players who could be second-round selections, the Toronto Raptors spent Thursday looking at some whocould be options with their first round pick later this month.
In a six-player workout that included UCLA’s Kyle Anderson and Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels, Raptors director of scouting Dan Tolzman talked about the disadvantages of drafting before the free agency period. The key is to treat each situation separately.
“I think the biggest thing is to not make draft decisions based on that, on your current roster and your current situations,” Tolzman said. “You keep it in the back of your head and you'll take it into account when you're drafting players but if the most talented guy or the highest guy on your list happens to be a position that you’re loaded up with you can work stuff out later. You can use all those guys as assets later.”
Although Toronto had a hugely successful 2013-2014 campaign, the front office knows they are more than one move away from becoming a championship-contending team. With three picks in the draft, including the 20th overall, there’s plenty of opportunity to address some of the gaps that need to be filled.
“I think the main thing for that is the position that we're picking,” Tolzman said. “I think at 20 the chances of you finding a guy that could be that one guy away are slim to none. To come in right away and do that, those guys aren't available at 20. Whether it’s the best player available or just the best player on your board, it could be totally different. If it fits with the culture of the team and the makeup of the locker room, and all of that stuff, in addition to him being a project, I think you roll the dice on a guy like that because you do have a little bit more of an opportunity to develop that person as your team builds on its own.”
While McDaniels is an interesting prospect because of his athleticism and ability to disrupt on defence, Anderson is intriguing because of his ability to play the point and create offence while standing 6-foot-9 and playing a below-the-rim game.
Anderson embraced the opportunity to talk with NBA coaches and general managers at his workouts.
“It's half the game,” Anderson said. “You take in that information, what they had to tell you and you use it, you apply it. You want to keep that bridge. Later on down the line, in the NBA, if they don't draft you now they may want you later. Just have a good personality, and that's not a problem for me.”
Anderson spent time after the workout speaking with Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. Not surprisingly, Casey was giving him advice about the defensive end of the floor.
“One thing coach Casey taught me today is when on defence making the offence feel me,” Anderson said. “Whether that's getting up, being physical, whether it's using my hands, just using my advantage. Just being physical that's going to help me later on in the workouts.”
The roles Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler have played in their teams respective success is something teams will consider when looking at McDaniels throughout this process.
“You’re looking for guys who can come in and impact the game without needing the ball or without really needing a big role on the team,” Tolzman said. “And it’s guys like that where they kind of carve out a niche as a defensive-minded guy and then they improve all the other things and they become so much more well-rounded. And I think K.J.’s the same way. He can get on the floor because of his defence and, from there, who knows? The sky can be the limit with him because he does have all the athletic tools and ability on that side.”
The Alabama native has been leaning on Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe for support and advice leading up to the draft. While he has improved as an offensive player each year at Clemson, it’s his ability to affect the game without plays being run for him that intrigues scouts and team officials.
“When he first started he was pretty much just a high-wire, interior type guy,” Tolzman said. “This last year, he was all over the floor, did all different types of things offensively. I don’t know if he’s comfortable enough yet to come in and shoot the NBA three, but that’s definitely the type of thing where, as he gets more comfortable stretching his range out, he’ll absolutely be that type of guy.”