Robin Lopez has long lived in the shadow of his highly touted twin brother and Stanford teammate Brook, but it appears the young seven-footer is ready to make an impression of his own.
Lopez stood out yesterday as the Raptors, holders of the 17th pick at the June 26th NBA draft, held their second day of pre-draft workouts at the Air Canada Centre.
Lopez showed his stuff alongside 7-foot-1 Ohio State freshman Kosta Koufos, 6-foot-10 California forward Ryan Anderson, 6-foot-11 Rider big man Jason Thompson, Gonzaga guard Jeremy Pargo and Michigan State guard Drew Neitzel.
Both Koufos and Lopez have been bandied about as possibilities to be taken before the Raptors pick, so director of player personnel Jim Kelly was pleased that the duo travelled to do drills and scrimmage for the team.
QUALITY BIG MEN
"For us to get the quality of big men in ... we're not down in the lottery, that was a great workout for us in terms of level of play and quality of players and players that we might draft as well," Kelly said.
Koufos is noticeably skilled, but he is not a good fit for the Raptors, since he prefers the outside shot to inside play, similar to 2006 No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani.
Lopez, on the other hand, needs lots of work at the offensive end, but showed decent athleticism and a willingness to get on the boards and block shots that the Raptors have long lacked.
Kelly was impressed.
"He might not be the most graceful, his brother (projected to be a top five selection) is probably a little more polished, but yet," Kelly added, "he is a true five (centre) who likes to bang."
Lopez has seen a lot of the Raptors and believes he would fit in well next to players such as Bargnani and Chris Bosh.
"They've got a great young team," Lopez said. "I think I could pick up some rebounds, give them quality minutes out there defensively, pick up a few offensive rebounds."
Lopez showed some of those skills during a three-on-three scrimmage. He was very quick off the floor going after rebounds and at one point, blocked a Koufos jump shot, hustled down the court, threw down a dunk, then sprinted back the other way to grab a defensive board.
Lopez also was one of the best conditioned athletes yesterday, lagging behind only Neitzel in the suicide sprints that ended the long session.
Lopez knows he has a long way to go.
"I'm looking to improve everywhere," he said. "This is the NBA, it's a whole other level. I've got to step up everywhere."
Thompson, a relative unknown, showed intriguing athleticism and finishing ability at the rim, while Neitzel, Anderson and Pargo shot the ball well but look to be second rounders at best.