Nothing like starting off Day 1 of Raptor draft workouts with a bang. Both Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker will be here. Not at the same workout though. Agents would never let that happen. But if the Raptors decide to go point guard it is a safe bet it will be Knight or Walker that they select. It is a lock that one of them at least should be there at number 5. When you consider Cleveland has 2 of the first four picks and Minnesota will not be taking a point guard for sure. Well it is Minnesota so anything is possible but seriously no chance they will. Cleveland will not draft two point guards either so that means at least one of Walker or Knight will be there. If it is both the Raptors will have a choice to make.
This is all assuming the Raptors stay at number five. The idea of trading back could be an appealing one for that Raptors assuming they are not that in love with either point guard. But if the Raptors stay at number five I said even back before we knew where they would pick that if Raptors were not in the top three and kept that pick they would select Kemba Walker. A lot gets made of these workouts, but to me they are really just the final stage to confirming that you are comfortable with taking a player. Workouts as we have seen in the NFL can be misleading.
Even going back to around the time of the NCAA Tournament I had a feeling Walker would be high on the Raptors list. Demar DeRozan seems a fan of him and he mentioned that both he and Ed Davis no Kemba pretty well as they came out in the same H.S Class together going to all the various All-Star Games and getting to know each other. That can't be erased like an NCAA Football championship from DeRozan's former school USC. Kemba Walker and his NCAA title are in the books and on the record.
Walker not only lead UConn on a run in the NCAA Tournament to win the title, he took them on a 6 game run to win the Big East title as well. He won the award as the top point guard in all of college basketball. Irving likely would have won the award but an injury sidelined him most of the year. Walker like DeRozan came on late in the year and has been on the steady climb up mock draft boards. If we are talking in February 2011 there is no way Walker is being picked this high. But combine his play with the draft class shrinking due to the lockout looming and he is in the mix to be a top 5 pick.
Size and the fact he is a shoot first ask questions later point guard are the main knocks against him. Some make the comparison to Allen Iverson but not nearly as talented or as good a shooter. That all being said there is something to be said for a guy that wins games that matter in the toughest conference tournament and then the NCAA Tournament. I see him a lot like a guy like T.J Ford coming out of Texas. Smaller but a fast guy that can get in the paint and can at times be a good shooter but lacks consistency.
Brandon Knight has the fact that he plays for a coach that just happened to coach the reigning MVP of the NBA at the point guard position. That was back at Memphis but now John Calipari has taken his show to Kentucky and there he had another star in John Wall. Knight is no where near Wall or Rose. But he has worked under the same coach in the same system. While people may question his tactics in terms of recruiting and if it is on the level. No on can deny that Calipari has had a ton of success getting players into the next level and having them succeed for the teams that draft them.
If it comes down to one or the other. It seems that if you want the safe pick you take Knight. If you want to take a risk and get the player with the higher upside than you take Walker. Regardless of who the Raptors take unless Bryan Colangelo can work a miracle and trade Jose Calderon it would appear that Walker or Knight will have to share time with him. Calderon for as much as he gets hammered for his defence is still a very talented and experienced guy on the other end of the floor. He will be able to help Walker or Knight tremendously and make their learning curve for the NBA a lot easier. Just don't ask him about how to defend the position. But for a guy like Walker that has a knock of being a shoot first guy having a guy like Calderon that is his opposite should be helpful.
If the Raptors stay at the number five spot I find it hard to imagine they will not select one of these two guys. Bryan Colangelo had stated the Raptors have their draft list down to 8 guys that they are focused in on at the 5th pick. It is a no brainer that Knight and Walker are at the top of that list of 8. Today the Raptors will get to see both one in the morning and one in the afternoon. So to evaluate them in the same day should make it crystal clear for the Raptors on who they like better. But if one or the other is selected before the 5th pick we may never know who that guy was.
Colangelo also made mention of wanting to try to find a 2nd pick in the top 10. This opens up the door to the idea of the Raptors making a play for Tristan Thompson. If it is not for that purpose may God have mercy on the soul of the kid they do select and Colangelo if in fact Thompson ends up the better player. Everyone to a man seems to think that Tristan Thompson if the draft order does not change will be going to the Bucks at #11.
To find out where all these guys go, I am pleased to announce that the DNB will be teaming up with our friends at St. Louis Wings to have a draft party. The draft takes place on June 23rd which is a Thursday. So clear your calender and make plans to join us. I hope to have all the details worked out by this Thursday. If you came to our Unwelcome Back Bosh party you know what a fun atmosphere it is at St Louis Wings and hopefully you will want to come out again. If you missed our Bosh Party well this is your chance to come out and have some fun with us again. Stay tuned to the blog and on Twitter @Dinonationblog and @StLouisWings for details on the event.