Second coming of NBA prospects

RYAN PYETTE, WMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:53 PM ET

It’s up-close and personal time.

With Thursday’s NBA draft fast approaching, the Raptors are doing their best to get a good read on a trio of prospects.

Toronto worked out Kansas centre Cole Aldrich and West Virginia forward Devin Ebanks for the second time Tuesday and had injured Texas combo guard Avery Bradley in for dinner and an interview Monday night. Bradley worked out for the team earlier this month before spraining his ankle at a workout in Oklahoma City.

Aldrich and Bradley are very much in the mix for Toronto’s 13th selection. Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo said the club feels nine players will be gone for certain at that point.

The club has narrowed its list of players expected to still be around “considerably” to the point where there are “a couple of bigs on the board, a couple of wings and a couple of guards that we are interested in.”

Aldrich and Bradley are definitely amongst that group, while Ebanks is a player the team will consider should it successfully add an additional first-rounder.

With so much at stake with the pick, Colangelo and his staff wanted to get a closer look, particularly at Aldrich, who some question due to a lack of athleticism.

This is a draft littered with quality big men, but Colangelo made it clear again the team is willing to take any player, regardless of position.

“We’re going to take the best player. A player that we feel has the most talent, the most upside, someone that will fit this organization long-term,” Colangelo said.

“There are certain players in this draft that have considerable upside at the big position. (The question is) whether we want to wait several years (for them) to have an impact. This is a draft with multiple bigs that we feel are pretty decent, but if there is a (smaller) player on the board with more talent, we’ll look at that as well.”

Aldrich, the first Kansas player ever to post a triple double, is one of those “decent” bigs that is ready to step in right away. He said that at this point, it’s all about convincing a team you’re the right fit.

“You go for workouts (to find) your niche, just try to figure out where you can help a team out,” Aldrich said.

“(Let teams) get to know you, watch how your game has progressed (since your the previous workout).”

Ebanks, a long, aggressive defender, echoed Aldrich’s description of the process.

“They liked what they saw the first time probably, and wanted to see me again. Just get a better feel for me.” Ebanks said.

“I did a better job than last time, especially shooting the ball and handling, things I’ve been working on since I left here.”

Indeed, Ebanks displayed a rapid-fire crossover dribble in the three-on-three drills along with a solid jump shot, while Aldrich showed more variation in his offensive game as well as his defensive chops.

Colangelo admitted the club has a lot of balls in the air in terms of trade opportunities and that, coupled with roster uncertainty and the difficulty of pegging down how the draft will unfold, makes this a very interesting time.

“We’re in the final throes,” Colangelo said. “How the roster looks today is going to look entirely different, I’m sure, two weeks from now when it all plays out.”

To acquire Ebanks, or a similar talent, Colangelo will have to trade for another pick. That, he said, has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Portland recently gave Golden State the 44th pick and $2 million US just to move up to the 34th selection.

Still, the GM said he hopes the opportunity presents itself.

“There’s a lot of players in that 15-25 range maybe 15-30 range that we really like,” he said.

“There’s a lot of interest in our part of acquiring a second first-round pick if it’s there and available. We’ve explored teams with multiple picks, explored teams looking to avoid the cap charge.”

Nothing has come to fruition yet, but all signs point to a busy draft night for the Raptors.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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