This week on The Doctor is In with Phdsteve, we continue our draft coverage with an updated big board 2.0 for the draft pick 2.0.
Joined by my brother Mike (who knows college basketball), Greg Mason (the brain from the south), and Blair Miller from The Fifth Quarter Blog we explore what the Raptors might do with the #20 pick overall now that we have seen most of the draft workouts.
Give the pod a listen and check our accompanying write-ups of our choices below.
Cleanthony Early, F, Senior
Wichita State, 6”8”, 219 lbs
Pick by Michael Gennaro, @michaelgennaro
Cleanthony Early is an athlete. He is a 6’7” SF at the NBA level. What is impressive is his instincts to get to the rim and above it. With a PG who can throw the lob he loves to be above the rim. He gets loose in transition and will run the floor looking to attack the rim. Not afraid of contact and finishes strong through it. Plays tough D but needs to learn to box out his man. Has good size and uses it effectively even though his size/length is not above average – he was a shot blocker for the Shockers and willing to play D hard would make him an ideal fit in the Raps system – except that he is a tweener. His height gives him an advantage over smaller SF, and has shown a decent post arsenal this past season. He crashes the glass on defense and offense and will lead the fast break end to end – although only with his right hand. Needs to become a better ball handler. Also improved his 3 pt shoot to 37% last season while shooting 47% from the floor.
Although I never gave much credit to the Wichita State Shockers in the tournament, there was no denying their talent, even with the sub-par competition they played against all year.
In the NCAA 3rd game against Kentucky Wildcats, the team that ended up losing to Uconn in the finals, he played 39 minutes out of 40, shot 12-17 for 31 pts, including 4-6 from 3, a perfect 3-3 from the strip, had 7 rebounds and a block and steal. Against elite competition, Early showed that he can ball. They only lost that game against Kentucky by 2, and Early was the go to man down the stretch scoring 10 of their final 13 points.
K.J. McDaniels, F, Junior
Pick by Greg Mason, @votaryofhoops
I would still absolutely love to see the Raptors grab Adreian Payne but I’m VERY skeptical that he’ll still be around when the Raps make their selection. Thus, KJ McDaniels is my guy for the Raps. I’ve broken down my logic in greater depth in the pod but plain and simple the guy plays defense. What he lacks in size (6’6”, 200 lbs) he makes up for in length (6’11.5 wingspan) and tenacity. As the reigning ACC player of the year, the 6’6” small forward pulled down 7.1 rebounds and blocked an impressive 2.8 shots per game. The shooting is suspect but the defensive instincts are there. He doesn’t need the ball to thrive. Consummate glue guy.
Adreian Payne, F, Senior
Pick by Blair Miller, @TFQuarter
I explain this in greater depth in the podcast, but consider this my “best talent available” counter to my earlier “address biggest needs” selection of Mitch McGary. I spent a lot of time last week explaining how Doug McDermott would give Toronto a useful stretch weapon in small ball lineups, and that’s how I see Michigan State’s Adreian Payne maximizing his potential in the NBA (obviously to a potentially lesser extent than McDermott…at least in terms of draft status). As a senior in college, Payne shot 42.3% on 3.4 three-point attempts per game, which is pretty solid for a “power forward”. Take that with his 6’ 10” height and in time he could be a dangerous pick-and-pop threat who arguably has the most post experience of any of the stretch four players available in this year’s draft.
I said “in time” with regards to Payne’s potential as a pick-and-pop player because I think his shot form needs to be rebuilt. If you watch his highlights, you’ll see he has a tendency to “load” the ball – meaning he swings the ball around and down, below his waist, before beginning his upward release. The ball needs to get up to eye level or higher in one motion upon putting both hands on the ball. Think of an NFL quarterback prospect: You can have different sorts of throwing motions as long as they’re repeatable and accurate, but if you have a hitch in your throwing motion you run the risk of giving the defense that extra crucial split second to close in. In the present-day NBA, where streamlined defenses start to close out before the ball swings the shooter’s way, taking just that little bit of extra time to get your shot off can be a death knell. Payne wouldn’t be the first player to successfully remodel his shot in the pros, though, and you know he’s open to coaching because you have to be to play for Spartans coach Tom Izzo.
Lastly, there’s Payne’s most obvious asset: That crazy wingspan. He’s the anti-Kevin Willis, with arms as long as Derek Fisher’s new coaching contract is overpaid. This season the value of a player who can occupy a lot of lateral space with his limbs has been front and center on both sides of the floor, with Kevin Durant on offense and Kawhi Leonard on defense. I’m not saying that Payne will be able to contribute as much as Durant or Leonard do for their teams, but teams are starting to covet freakishly long arms because they are able to scheme in ways that accentuate them more than ever. I say more about this in the podcast, and how outsized arm length is a hugely valuable asset. You can teach the rest; you can’t teach wingspan. That’s why if Ujiri & Co. go the route of taking the best talent available at 20 they opt for Payne. There are some blemishes in his skill set, but hey – that’s what you get in the last stretch of the first round.
Kyle Anderson, G-F, Sophomore
Pick by Steve Gennaro, @therealphdsteve
If the biggest need of the Raptors is a long 2 guard, with PG ball handling skills, and the ability to stroke a three then at #20 the best the Raptors can hope for would be to see a player like Kyle Anderson waiting for his name to be called. Anderson was the starting PG on his UCLA team for both his freshman and sophomore seasons, and even when highly ranked PG prospects like Zach Levine arrived at Westwood they were relegated to spot duty while Anderson garnered 30+ minutes a game. In some ways it is reminiscent of Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday’s careers at UCLA where both were backups even as elite level prospects while Darren Collison ran the point forever! Now most draft boards project Anderson at the SF in the NBA because his speed and lateral quickness issues but Anderson’s 6-9 height, 7-2 wingspan, and high basketball IQ allowed him to use smart positioning to averaged 2 steals, 1 block & 9 rebounds a game last season at UCLA. Not bad for a PG! All of those stat categories translate well from college to the NBA and shifting from the PG to SG should help deal with some of the speed issues on defence. Offensively, Anderson is a top notch ball handler, passer, and shooter. In his sophomore season at UCLA he shot close to 50% from both the floor and behind the arc, while playing 30 + minutes, taking a significant number of offensive touches and still averaging 6.5 assists a game. And while he projects to play the 2 or 3 at the NBA level he can also spell in when needed at the PG since that’s his natural position and his 6’9 230 pound frame means he could even play the PF every now and then if necessary. He is the same size as Julius Randle! In today’s NBA you can never have too many guys who can play at 2 or more positions (4 in Andersons case) to come off your bench! At 20, he’s a steal.