Regular readers are aware we’re publishing the FanSided Editors’ picks as Draft Day approaches. During that North America-wide “huddle” with the other Editors, I was constantly striking off my draft list players grabbed by other teams picking ahead of the Toronto Raptors’ #20 selection. When I was on the clock, I looked at who remained, and selected T.J. Warren of North Carolina State.
Why him? Cleanthony Early was still sitting in the imaginary Green Room, as were Clint Capela and P.J. Hairston. Desirable mid-draft guys who were plucked too soon included Elfrid Payton, Adriean Payne and Doug McDermott.
In the NBA, players who can’t do one thing well tend to get lost. I call it Tweener Syndrome. A player who’s competent at most facets of the game, and a standout at none, will have difficulty finding a team, or getting minutes if he does. Warren isn’t a defender of note, an unusually gifted rebounder, a beefy inside presence, or a long-range bomber. He’s a scorer, and those guys are rare. He has a nose for the basket, which is something the Raptors’ second unit has sorely lacked. When our starters were getting a rest last season, who was scoring for us? Not John Salmons, and he’s all but gone anyway. Tyler Hansbrough can’t shoot. Landry Fields – please stop, that hurts. That left Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson to create some semblance of an offense, and both of them are far from nailed down for next season, despite their strong desire to return. Warren looks to these eyes like an NBA-ready small forward who may be able to help as a rookie. He’s very solid in transition, and has an impressive array of floaters and jumpers at his command. Warren isn’t shy about taking it to the rack either, and he’ll mix it up inside. His defense is a work in progress, but he’s coachable by all accounts.
Rapture Nation, we’re picking late, and we need to have modest expectations. I think Warren has the potential to be much more than Just A Guy. We aren’t getting someone who’s likely to crack the starting five anytime soon, or ever, but a solid rotation-grade swingman works for me.
What do you think? Could we have done better? Let me know in the Comments.