It’s time for Yours Truly to climb off the fence, and suggest some players I’d like to see wearing Toronto Raptors colours next season. Of course, the #20 pick won’t net our team one of the glittering stars of the June 26 draft, so I’m not reviewing Andrew Wiggins. We’re not likely to hit a home run, but a single would be nice. I’ve tried to make clear my skepticism surrounding the entire “best player available” mantra, and my selections are based on what I perceive are the Raptors’ needs.
Adreian Payne – A 6’10″ Power Forward out of Michigan State, Payne is 23 and a senior, both of which make him an anomaly in this freshman-loaded draft. He is more ready than most for the pro game, as he has a high-percentage jump shot with range, some decent low-post moves, and can grab some boards. Adreian doesn’t project as a star, but could be a solid rotation player for years.
Cleanthony Early – Another 23-year-old, Early is a swingman with an average set of tools. His ceiling is not high, but he looks like someone who can contribute immediately. I can see him making the team out of camp, as cheap insurance/Q4 mop-up behind TRoss and DeMar. Early has apparently done well in his pre-draft workouts.
Clint Capela – A Swiss [I don't think I've ever used that adjective before] Centre/Power Forward who is tall and skinny, Capela is the object of much disagreement among draft experts, some of whom don’t even have him in the first round. Capela is barely 20, and will be a project player for any team which drafts him. From what little film I’ve seen of his EuroLeague play, he has lots of talent, all of it raw. I’ve written that the Raps shouldn’t draft a project, but he may be the best big man of those left when it’s Masai’s turn.
Kyle Anderson – Perhaps the most intriguing player likely to be still on the board, Anderson is a skinny, slow and oversized point guard out of UCLA. I like our team to have different looks, and if Anderson were somehow to make the big team, he would be as far removed from Kyle Lowry as one can imagine. I’d prefer to leave him to the second round.
Jerami Grant – Another swingman, Jerami went to Syracuse and is the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant. Jerami’s body appears to have more growth in it, as he’s still young and slender. He’s got some talent, but no range on his jump shot, which is a major buzzkill for his position. If we draft this fellow, he’ll need 2 seasons in the D-League before he’s heard from. Choosing him requires a leap of faith.
Those are the likely choices remaining when the clock starts ticking on Masai’s choice. For my money, we need size, and someone who can help out right away. I think that’s Payne.