In today’s NBA, having a player who can defend the 4/5 spot, and yet who is mobile enough to help and recover is so crucial to a team’s success, especially considering the emphasis most team’s offences place on the three-point shot. The Toronto Raptors luckily have such a player in Amir Johnson and while he still struggles against some of the more offensively skilled types (Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson for instance), watching these two Conference Finals’ series have been a nice reminder of Johnson’s importance, and all of the little things he does on defensive possessions.
Jonas Valanciunas, 22, was charged by Huronia West OPP on April 7 with an over .80 blood-alcohol level. Police allege the Raptor centre drove a vehicle through a drive-thru restaurant in Wasaga Beach at around 2:30 a.m. that morning with open beer bottles in plain view.
It’s a long shot that the six-foot-two Ennis will be available when the Raptors make their pick — he’s seen as a virtual lock to go in the lottery portion of the draft — but it never hurts to meet with one of the top local prospects. Ennis, leaving Syracuse after just one season, met with Toronto officials at the league’s draft combine this month and Thursday’s individual workout will be another chance to get an up-close look at him.
Yes, Ennis will be working out for the team this Thursday even though there’s a pretty good chance he won’t be available when the Raptors make their selection at 20th overall. The Syracuse product is still viewed as a likely lottery selection however it makes sense for Toronto to bring him in, not only because of his citizenship. The club of course could be down a couple point guards depending on free agency, and in the coming weeks, it’s not impossible that other players vault over Ennis, and he’s sitting in Toronto’s draft range when all is said and done. Again, no word on who will be joining him but a few of us on Twitter were speculating that this Thursday’s initial workout could be a “Can-Con Affair,” with others like Dwight Powell, Khem Birch and Melvin Ejim joining in the fun. You may recall that in past years, the Raps have brought in Canadian kids for a look, more out of nationalist pride than draft need. However this year, players like Birch and Powell could represent very interesting draft options when the second-round rolls around.
Songza: What do you have playing in your headphones when you walk into the arena? DeMar DeRozan: “Feelin’ It” by Jay Z.
There are some interesting big men available outside of the lottery, however, there isn’t much agreement out there about where they should fall on June 26. It’s even possible to find a prospect listed as a late lottery pick in one mock draft and as a second round selection in another. A few big men that have been long assumed as solid NBA prospects don’t even make some mock drafts. As the Raptors first selection is in the second half of the first round, players expected to go in the lottery are not included here.
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