Mar 20, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried and forward T.J. Warren (24) react during overtime of a men

Why I’m pushing T.J. Warren for the Raptors at #20


Mar 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Adriean Payne (5) celebrates along with Lacey Holsworth, age 8, as they hold one of the nets and celebrates after Michigan State defeated the Michigan Wolverines 69-55 in the championship game for the Big Ten college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

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.


Tags: 2014 NBA Draft Toronto Raptors

  • Benjamin

    Hey Brian, any particular reason you guys let KJ McDaniels slip out of the first round?

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Benjamin:
      I think McDaniels might be the least publicized and viewed of the first-rounders. He didn’t get a lot of PT as a freshman, and he’s viewed as a defensive specialist. FWIW: I wouldn’t be unhappy at all if he were selected, assuming Warren is already taken. Most serious mocks have McDaniels selected late in the first round. If he falls into the second, the Raps should definitely grab him.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • Benjamin

        You’re right, McDaniels was very lightly recruited coming out of high school. However, he has gotten better every year in college to the point where he was Clemson’s go-to guy last year as a junior. McDaniels was originally projected at around 20, but we’re seeing guys like Cleanthony Early, Shabazz Napier, Clint Capela, and Glenn Robinson III shoot up the draft boards. Early and Napier are being overhyped in my opinion, as they’re clearly reaping the rewards from their nice runs in the tournament. They’re still the same players they were for most of the season last year, so to see them shoot up like they are doesn’t make a lot of sense. According to some sources, McDaniels is one of the Raptors’ favourites at 20 due to his defensive proficiency. It’s in my opinion that defensive instincts can’t be taught, the same way natural scoring can’t be taught. Improving a jumpshot is a very manageable task, so it’s for that reason McDaniels remains my favourite for 20 despite what the mock drafts are saying.

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Hi Benjamin:
          I agree with you about defensive instincts. If James Harden had them, he’d be a perpetual All-Star. Napier is indeed getting a lot of buzz, but I’m not sold that we need another undersized point guard, unless Lowry walks.
          Please keep reading and commenting on my draft posts. This is going to be one crazy year.

  • Jensan

    Good Afternoon, Brian, my daughter attended Florida State in the ACC , so we saw a great deal of Warren and McDaniels, Warren is the way to go, and you are correct he is a scorer and he does play defense against SF, McDaniels real solid player, but a tweener 2/3.

    Warren could push TRoss to be the 6th man, seriously and that would give more scoring to the 2nd unit. Also, Warren goes to the bucket, really well.

    If he is gone McDaniels really is a slower version of a backup 2.
    Warren has been measured with long arms.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Jensan:
      I’m pleased to learn of your concurrence. Warren appears to be climbing up a lot of mock drafts, and he apparently isn’t coming to T-dot for a workout. Those 2 factors lead me to fear he’s got a promise from a team in the mid-teens, so I doubt he’ll be around at #20 (:-0 He might tumble, also – it’s the draft, anything can happen.
      You’ve seen McDaniels up close and personal. I’m thinking he’s a Jamario Moon-type, a defensive 2-guard with a little scoring. Is that a reasonable approximation?
      Thanks as always for checking in.

      • Benjamin

        I see McDaniels as more a Jimmy Butler type player. He mostly played the 3 in college but his size indicates he’s the textbook swingman. Once he puts on some strength/weight and adds a consistent corner 3 he could become the defensive wing we needed against Joe Johnson.

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Hi Benjamin:
          If he approaches Jimmy Butler’s skills, I’ll be very happy.
          McDaniels is far more likely to be around at #20 than Warren.

    • Benjamin

      Warren mostly guarded power forwards in college so he has some work cut out for him to show he can guard NBA 3′s. Aside from that he’s a very good looking player that will probably be gone at 20.

      McDaniels played small forward almost exclusively last year. He posted the fastest sprint in the Draft Combine this year so he has all the quicks he needs. He also has a 6’11″ wingspan. He’s not as gifted a scorer as Warren but his defensive instincts are ridiculous.