Possible Targets for Toronto Raptors in 2014 NBA Draft
The top three point guards on the team’s depth chart are all poised to be free agents this summer, including starter Kyle Lowry, so picking up a floor general as insurance is a likely option.
A big need for the team, though, is another wing defender. With a glut of possible options via the draft, this might be something the tempts general manager Masai Ujiri.
Here are five players the Raptors may target in the 2014 NBA draft.
5. K.J. McDaniels, Small Forward, Clemson
K.J. McDaniels may only be 6’6”, but he measured out at the draft combine with a 6’11.25” wingspan, per DraftExpress. Last season he averaged 1.4 steals and 3.4 blocks, and a big part of that is his athleticism and impressive wingspan.
Toronto’s head coach, Dwane Casey, loves players who will get at it on the defensive end, so McDaniels could be a great fit for Toronto. Plus, the playoff series against Brooklyn exposed Toronto’s need for a bigger wing defender because Terrence Ross (6'6" 195 lbs) and DeMar DeRozan (6'7", 216 lbs) don’t have the size to battle against bigger players like Paul Pierce (6'7", 235 lbs) or Joe Johnson (6'7", 240 lbs).
Last season McDaniels showed he can score when needed by averaging 17.1 points per game while shooting 45.9 percent from the floor.
Clemson played a slower pace last season, so when you look at McDaniels' stats per 40 minutes, per DraftExpress, he averaged 22.0 points per game. If he played on a team like Toronto that likes to push the ball and score in transition, McDaniels could become a nice complementary scorer to DeRozan, Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas.
4. Kyle Anderson, Point Guard, UCLA
A silky smooth 6’9” point guard? Yes, please!
Anderson enjoyed moderate success while playing for UCLA (14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 dimes) and was a triple-double threat every time he stepped on the court. He may not have the kind of scoring that jumps out at you, but his overall game and the fact he shot 48 percent from the floor last season showed he has the all-around skill set for the NBA.
Anderson is pegged as going in the early 20s (DraftExpress has him going to Utah at No. 23), which means in all likelihood he’ll still be on the board when Toronto makes its selection. If the Raptors do draft him, he will provide excellent insurance in case they are unable to retain Lowry and/or Greivis Vasquez this summer.
Any player who played for Bob Hurley is a strong kid and has the mental toughness needed to succeed as a point guard in the NBA. Hurley, Anderson's high school coach at St. Anthony in Jersey City, New Jersey, is notorious for being hard on his players and pushing them to succeed.
3. Adreian Payne, Power Forward, Michigan State
Toronto is currently stocked with bigs—Valanciunas, Amir Johnson, Patrick Patterson, Tyler Hansbrough and Chuck Hayes—but Patterson is a free agent, and with his strong play for the team in 2013-14 he might have played his way out its price range.
Adreian Payne brings four years of experience of playing in big games for Michigan State. He’s also shown the kind of leadership skills that Toronto needs; it just might take him a couple seasons to find his voice as an NBA leader.
He could make an immediate impact on the Raptors as a big body who isn’t afraid to be a bully in the paint or hit a mid-range jumper.
2. Rodney Hood, Small Forward, Duke
Rodney Hood is a player who will likely be a fringe lottery pick, as he is slated by DraftExpress to go at No. 15 to Atlanta. However, if he drops to Toronto, it would be tough for the team to pass him up.
His height (6’8”) and larger build would be a good fit alongside Ross or DeRozan. Both are lanky, and neither have the size to deal with larger wings on the defensive end.
According to DraftExpress, Hood made 42 percent of his three-pointers this past year and hit 37 of the 85 pull-up jump-shot attempts he took on the season (43 percent).
One of the reasons why Toronto might pass on Hood is it needs a wing defender, and that isn’t his forte. Pairing Hood with DeRozan would provide the team with a scoring spark, but that’s not what it needs with the current roster.
Still, passing on Hood would probably be too tough for Toronto to do as he could become a valuable trade chip this summer or in the future.
1. Tyler Ennis, Point Guard,Syracuse
Tyler Ennis is the player basketball fans in Toronto are clamouring for. He’s a hometown kid and captured the heart of fans this past season after his buzzer-beating shots for Syracuse.
Ennis was thought of as a lottery lock when he declared for the draft—and will likely be gone by the time Toronto picks at No. 20 (DraftExpress lists him as the No. 16 pick to Chicago)—but if he slips, he’ll be an ideal fit for Toronto. Lowry and Vasquez played the majority of minutes at point guard for the Raptors last season, but with both players poised to become free agents this summer, adding a talented 1 as insurance won’t hurt.
Ennis didn't have flashy stats during his one season at Syracuse (12.9 points and 5.5 assists), but he garnered a lot of respect for how he ran Syracuse's offense and for having ice in his veins during critical moments of games.
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