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Draft

Draft workout notes: 6 players visit, Casey a target of Pistons, and more

Some interesting potential undrafted names here.

The Toronto Raptors held their second pre-draft workout at BioSteel Centre on Thursday, with no media availability. As a reminder, the Raptors have no picks, so the names throughout this process might be a little underwhelming compared to the last few seasons and focused instead on 905/Summer League/future plans. Here are some quick notes on the name – a pretty interesting batch today – as well as some non-draft news and notes below.

Player Notes

Here’s the full list of players who attended the workout:

Jon Elmore Guard 6-3 Marshall
Marcus Foster Guard 6-3 Creighton
Nana Foulland Center 6-9 Bucknell
Marcus Lee Center 6-11 California
Jairus Lyles Guard 6-2 UMBC
Dakota Mathias Guard 6-4 Purdue

Jon Elmore
ESPN Rank: N/A

The junior out of Marshall is still in the process of gathering feedback from teams before making a decision on whether to turn pro or return for a fourth season with the Thundering Herd. It’s a tough call, even as someone outside of the top 100 rankings – Elmore probably won’t be able to top the season he just had, in which he averaged 22.7 points on 60.2-percent true shooting with 5.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.6 steals. Statistical lines don’t really get much better than that, and while he could always improve his 3-point mark – he’s shot between 34.5 and 35.6 percent on a high volume all three years – it’s hard to one-up consecutive All-Conference First Team nods. Maybe he could score 101 points again? (Playing under Dan D’Antoni at the country’s sixth-fastest tempo, anything is plausible.) In any case, Elmore looks like a good bet to be a solid piece in a pro-style offense at the international or G League level, but he also looks likely to have to fight for a Summer League spot if he stays in the draft.

Marcus Foster
ESPN Rank: N/A

It never hurts to bring in elite shooters at the guard spots, and Foster spent his senior year at Creighton re-establishing himself as one of those. Foster had shot 39.5 percent on threes as a freshman at Kansas State back in 2013-14 but then fell to roughly average, red-shirted a year, and was average again in his first season with the Bluejays. This year, though, he knocked down 41.3 percent of his seven attempts per-game while also improving inside the arc and at the free-throw line, with slight upticks in his rebound and steal rates. His senior year was strong enough to earn All Big East First Team honors for a second consecutive year and a Portsmouth Invitational nod. Foster will be 23 by draft night, which hasn’t turned the Raptors off in the past (he also has the kind of toughness they look for late), and if the uptick in shooting is legitimate and they think they can turn Foster into more of a combo-guard than a scoring guard, he profiles as the type of piece that can help a G League offense.

Nana Foulland
ESPN Rank: N/A

Probably the most intriguing name in this workout, Foulland was a major peice for a really strong Bucknell program the last few years. He runs the floor really well, blocked nearly two shots per-game over the last two seasons, and while he struggles at the free-throe line, he has better hands than is normally associated with this player archetype. He’s also a good finisher around the rim, shooting 58.7 percent this year and 63 percent as a junior last year, and has good instincts presenting himself to make passes easier on dump-offs or roles. One scout I talked to about him earlier in the year thought he could get on the NBA radar with some G League time under his belt, and it’s easy enough to see why given the production – 15.2 points efficiently, seven rebounds, 1.3 assists in 2018, Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, All-Conference First Team in both – and how his timing makes up for being a bit undersized at the five.

Marcus Lee
ESPN Rank: N/A

It’s been a windy road for Lee, who was the No. 25 high school recruit in the Class of 2013 and for a while looked like an important piece of the Kentucky-Calipari dynasty. That never worked out, as he struggled to get on the floor for two years, then finally carved out a role in his third season only to transfer to Cal for his senior year, sitting out a season in between. It was, at the very least, a chance for him to show a bit more individually. He averaged 11.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.6 blocks this year, improving his previously horrendous free-throw shooting to a respectable level (61.2 percent) and shooting well from the floor (56.3 percent), if not as well as in his low-usage role at Kentucky (68 percent). It’s still not immediately clear what he can be beyond a really big body with good athleticism and shot-blocking, but players like that always warrant a longer look given how late some of them put it all together. He’s also by all accounts a good person, which makes him an easy person to root for, even if his path from here might continue to be circuitous out of necessity.

Jairus Lyles
ESPN Rank: N/A

One shining moment, indeed. Or two, rather. Lyles should be well known to NCAA Torunament fans as one of the pieces that helped pull off the first ever 16-1 tournament upset, a game in which he scored 28 points to lead UMBC to the historic victory. Even before that, he’d hit a buzzer-beater just to get UMBC there. Even with those big moments, Lyles didn’t get a Combine or Portsmouth invite, and so he’ll likely have to scrap his way through the G League or the international game to get an eventual NBA look. Which is fine, obviously – a lot of mid-major scoring guards have to go the same route, and Lyles probably knows he has to improve as a playmaker to establish himself as a true point guard rather than a microwave man with the requisite toughness and confidence to, you know, knock off a 1-seed. For the year, Lyles shot 39 percent on a high volume of threes, the first time he’s consistently been an above-average shooter, and that’s likely the skill the Raptors were looking closely at in this workout since it’s his foot in the door for any Summer League invites.

Dakota Mathias
ESPN Rank: N/A

More shooting here, in a very, very serious way. Mathias was among the best 3-point shooters int he country for a second consecutive season this year, knocking down 46.6 percent of nearly six attempts per-game. In fact, a quick Sports Reference search shows that Mathias was 37th in the NCAA in made threes over the last two years combined and was fifth in 3-point percentage among all players who took at least 200 attempts. (Technically, nobody shot as many threes as him and hit at a better clip, but I didn’t want to use an incredibly arbitrary endpoint of 365 to make a case; he’s a very, very good shooter.) So, that’ll get you in the door, especially when you have some size at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds and have worked as a primary creator, averaging nearly four assists per-game twice. He’s also supposed to be a pretty engaged defender even though he’s not a special athlete, and there are concerns about his aggression and his ability to create his own shot, but smart players who move well off the ball and can shoot at that level don’t need too much to click for them to be interesting prospects.

Assorted

  • Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that Dwane Casey will be the Detroit Pistons’ top target in their coaching search. Whether that process ramps up after they have a new front office sorted out is unclear,  but it’s not at all surprising to see Casey in the rumor mill so quickly. Ed Stefanski has been hired as an advisor to oversee the changes on that end, and he worked closely with Bryan Colangelo, who hired Casey in Toronto, and shares an agent with Casey.
  • These weren’t worthy of their own posts, but some award voting notes:
    • OG Anunoby placed 13th in All Rookie Team voting, falling outside of the two teams. He received two first-team votes and 21 second-team votes out of 100 ballots.
      • No Raptor has made an All Rookie Team since Jonas Valanciunas made the Second Team in 2012-13.
    • In All Defensive Team voting, Kyle Lowry received seven voting points, including one First Team vote, finishing 22nd. Fred VanVleet received one Second Team vote, finishing 32nd.
      • No Raptor has ever made an All Defensive Team.
  • As a reminder, the draft takes place on June 21. We’ve got a long way to go. The Raptors don’t have their next draft workouts schedule yet, but they might be fairly sparse or random until closer to the draft. There’s also the new NBA-run Eurocamp in Italy beginning next weekend that several members of the front office will likely attend.

*A NOTE ON THIS PROCESS: Normally, this is one of the most fun times of the year, and this process note includes information on what we will and won’t post in terms of rumors and meetings and visits. To be honest, with no draft pick this time around, the process is going to lack some punch. We’ll still pass along the names that come in and work out, because they could pop up if the team acquires a pick later or is filling out the Summer League or Raptors 905 roster or whatever. It’s tough, without a pick, to get agents to bring high-end prospects in, though. There’s simply no upside for the prospect, and so the Raptors will probably have to do their diligence at agency camps/workouts and through their regular scouting process. The Raptors would like to get into the draft if they can, so these aren’t meaningless, they just might lack big names.

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