When it comes to college basketball and scouting very few people can match expertise with Jonathan Givony, President of DraftExpress.com. So if there ever was an interview where I was out of my league, this was it and I did the smart thing by just letting him talk. We chatted some Raptors basketball and he shed light on potential Raptor picks in the 2009 draft. I also got his take on the Granger/Graham thing and the Bargnani/Roy debate. There’s a great chance that after you listen to this podcast you’ll have a good understanding of who to keep an eye out when looking for that wing or PG in this year’s draft. We also covered other topics such as Mario Chalmers, the best drafting organization, Kevin Love for O.J Mayo, Nathan Jawai, Roko Ukic, Canadian content and more.
Here’s a complete summary:
-Givony starts by questions why Raps fans have given up hope on the making playoffs when were just 4 games out of the playoffs. He thinks we have a pretty good core of talented, high character players.
-Thinks that high character guys with a scappy mentality do exist (Battier, D.Howard).
-He doesn’t think this is a great draft, but said it is a good draft for PG’s and PF’s. He mentions that the 8-15 range is a tricky part of the draft. He mentioned a number of players the Raps could look at: Gerald Henderson (SG), Kyle Singlar (SF/PF), Willy Warren (SG), Patrick Patterson (PF), Dejuan Blair (PF/C).
-Thinks Jrue Holiday (PG/SG) could be the best player available and a great fit for the Raps and could be available at the #8 spot.
-Says Jeff Teagues, Brandon Jennings and Ty Lawson are probably the top-3 PG prospects right now.
-Thinks Brandon Jennings decision to go to Europe as opposed to the NCAA will teach him alot about basketball, will mature him quickly and should not affect his draft potential. The fact he’s getting some playing time in a league dominated by veterens speaks highly about his abilities.
-He wasn’t crazy about Roko Ukic in 2005 and thinks he needs more time to develop.
-Said Danny Granger was a much better prospect than Joey Graham, but Granger was “red-flagged” because of a knee injury (torn miniscus) before the draft, which was a serious concern for alot of teams who chose to pass on him.
-Explained why Granger’s teammantes call him “Dr. Granger”: He had a hangnail on his big toe prior to a workout with the Clippers, and after “working on it” himself, his toe got infected forcing him to miss the workout.
-When asked about Bill Walker (who was chosen after Jawai), he said he looks much more athletic now than he did in college.
-Thinks Nathan Jawai has some upside and could develop into a rotation player 2-3 years from now.
-With regards to the 2006 draft, he confirmed that there was a lot of debate over who was the #1 prospect. He thought Aldridge was the best player available, others thought Tyrus Thomas was the best player in the draft. But with Bargnani’s recent play, the pick is looking really good.
-He stated that people need to wait at least 4-5 years to fairly evaluate a draft class.
-He explained why the TWolves traded Brandon Roy for Randy Foye. He shared a story about how he was the Summer League in 2006 when Rex Chapman (TWolves front office) told him how he/the team thought Roy had a lot of knee problems and that Roy’s knee would not hold up.
-Identified the Portland Trail Blazers as having the best draft record over the past few years and are the #1 organization in the league right now.
-When asked who was the Canadian player outside the NBA, he raved a about Torontonian Tristan Thompson (17 yrs old, high school junior) being a really good prospect with huge potential. He said he got to interview Thompson recently at a tournament and thinks he’s a great person who should become the centerpiece of the Canadian national team. He went on to say that everything about Thompson “screams star”.
-The most surprising draft-day moves in his opinion were Russell Westbrook being chosen #4 last year becuase he didn’t think he was going to go that high, but Westbrook is proving to be a really good pick and could compete for Rookie of the Year.
-The Roy/Foye trade really surprised him. Thought the Love/Mayo trade was good for the TWolves since he is a big fan of Kevin Love.
-When asked about the Raps decision to trade the #17 pick last year, he said he wasn’t a big fan of the trade at the time, but thinks the Raptors weren’t really enamoured with anyone on the board.
-Isn’t surprised by the play of Mario Chalmers because he is in a really good situation in Miami. He’s getting alot of minutes and is playing next to Dwayne Wade.