Raptors Pre-Draft Workout Week 3 Recap
With the 2017 NBA Draft just two weeks away, the Raptors front office has been busy. Searching for the player that the organization would like to select with the 23rd pick has kept both front office and coaching staff working as the team hosts workouts to try to get a closer look at the players that have intrigued them.
Wednesday’s workout wrapped up three straight days of pre-draft workouts this week. The third session featured Florida’s Kasey Hill, Cincinnati’s Troy Cauapin, Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, Utah’s Kyle Kuzma, Marquette’s Luke Fischer, Jonathan Jeanne of France and UCLA’s Ike Anigbogu.
While Anigbogu and Jeanne are both players that have been featured in mock drafts near Toronto’s 23rd pick, the team has brought in a wide range of players in the eight workouts to take place in Toronto thus far. With a pick in the latter half of the first round, what the Raptors do could be dependent upon what other teams do and what happens ahead of them in the draft. Getting plenty of faces in to interview and workout is crucial when preparing for draft night.
Dan Tolzman said Wednesday’s workout was one of the most competitive the team has had yet. With the draft inching closer, the grind of the pre-draft process has often started to set in for some participants. When dealing with a player that has gone through many workouts, watching how he pushes himself through the actual workout can be the most important part of the session.
"As the date draws nearer, that means [players are] getting upwards of five to 15 workouts in, depending on the player, so fatigue is a big part of it at this point," Tolzman said. "We’ve got to just keep pushing them to give us their best and guys today, they did it."
Kuzma watched a lot of the Raptors this season, rooting on former Utah teammates Delon Wright and Jakob Poeltl. The third-year forward said his pre-draft experience has been aided by his time at Utah, playing for coach Larry Krystkowiak.
"We’re coached well," Kuzma said. "Coach K and the rest of the staff at Utah do an excellent job at preparing us and getting us ready to play at this level. He played in the NBA and has NBA pedigree and even coached in the league too. He knows how to prepare us with terminology, just being in this workout, you see a lot of things, defensive coverages, and everything that the Raptors use, we used at Utah too."
Kuzma said he’s spoken with Wright and Poeltl about their pre-draft experiences and the duo have both told him to enjoy it.
"[They’re] great, great guys, that’s the number one thing," Kuzma said of his former teammates. "At Utah we had a very real bond and it didn't matter if you were Delon Wright or the lowest walk on. It didn't matter. Everybody was the same. They treated everybody like that too. Very humble guys. Guys that wanted to get better. They treated the game as professionals, as college players, so that’s why they’re here."
Tuesday’s workout was a six-player session, featuring JJ Frazier of Georgia, Quentin Hooker of North Dakota, Wesley Iwundu of Kansas State, Hassan Martin of Rhode Island, Devin Robinson of Florida and Paul Watson of Fresno State.
Monday’s session was also another six players in Toronto to workout: Duke’s Matt Jones, Gonzaga’s Jordan Matthews, Iowa State’s Matt Thomas, South Carolina’s P.J. Dozier, Chattanooga’s Justin Tuoyo and UNC’s Kennedy Meeks.
Meeks said what he gleaned form the workout from Toronto’s perspective was that the team emphasized attacking the rim and shooting the three. Despite the stress that can accompany the pre-draft process, Meeks enjoyed his stop in Toronto.
"This is definitely a great organization," Meeks said. "The coaching staff are tremendous and the players are kind and nice and you can tell that they play together for sure."
What stood out to Dozier was how the team actually facilitated the workout, opting to show as well as tell in a hands-on approach.
"They taught a little bit more," Dozier said. "Trying to get structure instead of just rolling the ball out there and saying play. I enjoyed that part. I really got to learn how they defend, how they rotate. It was fun.
"They don't get right into it," Dozier explained. "They break it down first. Teach you the positions, almost like shell, dummy drill, then they roll the ball out there, tell you to play, and if they see something out there that they don’t like they’ll stop and tell you a teaching point."
With the 23rd pick in the draft, the Raptors have the opportunity to take a chance on a player they like, or wait to see if someone that they had pegged higher is still available. These options means getting a lot of players in to workout. As the draft continues to creep closer, the action at BioSteel Centre continues as the team searches for the newest addition to the roster.