And so it begins, with the first Gang of Four
You wanted Raptors news? Well, how was that weekend?
But let’s put the Turkoglu saga aside for a second because – ta-da! – it’s draft preparation time in earnest.
Seriously, kids start pouring in for individual workouts here in Toronto this week, although you never know who’s going to show up until you actually get in the gym, which is another delightful part of the whole process.
Anyway, the four kids who are in today are a couple of guards, 6-4 Willie Warren of Oklahoma and 6-3 Avery Bradley of Texas, and a couple of forwards, Gordon Hayward of Butler and Stanley Robinson of Connecticut.
Now, if you read some of the mock drafts out there – and I try to avoid them like the plague until about the second week of June – it’s a bit of a stretch to think any of these four would be the 13th pick, most of them are projected as late-teens or late-20s choices.
So, what’s that mean? Um, nothing at the moment. Except that the Raptors are doing the usual amount of due diligence. Which is prudent and gives you a lot to chatter about.
It also makes sense to bring in two guards and two forwards, rather than three of one and one of the other to give them a chance to run some legitimate two-man drills.
There are more workouts scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday but Wednesday’s up in the air, which brings us to another part of the problem with this time of year.
As the process unfolds and the draft draws closer, it gets harder and harder to get some kids in. They either think they will be drafted before, say, No. 13 and they don’t want to jeopardize their position by having a bad workout (and, trust me, team officials chatter back and forth a lot about who looks good where) or the players are broken down from the sheer volume of auditions they have to go on.
And that’s why you really don’t know until the night before precisely who’s going to work out the next morning.
I swear, there are more “flight delays” coming into Pearson this time than there is in an entire winter.
So, the short answer to ‘who’s coming in the rest of the week’ is we have no firm answer at the moment.
Oh, you wonder how the day goes for us?
Let me tell you.
We show up around 11 a.m. (the workouts begin sometime after 9 a.m.) and we stand around the corridor outside the practice gym for 45 minutes or so before being shown in.
We see about 20 minutes of drills – if that – and then the interviewing process begins. Now, every now and then we get something marginally newsworthy but, over the decade and half I’ve been going to these things, I can close my eyes and here the conversation now:
Grunt: So, how was the workout?
Player (and it really doesn’t matter what his name is): It was hard, they really made us work, we ran a lot, did a lot drills but it was fun
Grunt: What would you bring to the Raptors?
Player: I just want to come in and work hard, do whatever the coach asks. I want to play defence and hustle, learn and do whatever the coach asks me to do.
Grunt: What do you know about the Raptors?
Player: I watched them a few times last season and I know they want a guy who’ll come in and work hard, do whatever the coach asks. I just want to play defence and hustle, learn and do whatever the coach asks me to do.
Oh, and then Team Official saunters over <p>Grunt: What’d you think of them?
Team Official: Good group, we had a good workout, they showed some hustle and defence.
Grunt: Anything specific?
Team official: Good workout. They’re projected to be draft picks and I can see them helping some team. They need to work on this and that but it was a good workout.
Grunt: Okay, we’re gone.
With nothing really on TV last night (Twins-Rangers holds no allure for me; Super Wife playing DVDs – the new VCRs, I’m told – of True Blood wasn’t an option) clicking around landed me at a Saturday Night Life retrospective.
I’ll just say this: I (heart) Tina Fey.
And am pretty big on Amy Poehler, too.
Digression done, for now.
I’ve got to get back to one little post-game moment from Game 6 of Lakers-Suns for a second.
And why I think Kobe Bryant is the kind of stone-cold hard-ass you’d want on your team.
He’s being interviewed and is asked about the Sasha Vujacic-Goran Dragic thingamabob that turned the momentum and Bryan.t’s asked: What did you think of Sasha’s, um, ill-advised move?
“I wanted to kill him."
“I still want to kill him.”
Later, Bryant’s at the podium and someone asks him about the threat?
I don’t know why, but I found that entirely entertaining.
“He’s still breathing.”
Speaking of entertaining, what are you doing Tuesday at noon? Well, if you’re smart, you’ll stop by this neck of the woods for an hour-long question and answer session. We’ll do some Finals stuff, I’m sure we’ll touch on some Raptors stuff and it’ll be a hoot.
Honest, it will.
Back to the draft for one quick minute, just to let you know what’s been gleaned in a couple of conversations I’ve had with bigwigs over in Raptorsville.
They think there’s a group of about nine players – and they haven’t divulged exactly what the names are but I’m some of you are capable of figuring them out – who are certain to be gone by the time No. 13 rolls around.
They also think there’s a group of eight or 10 guys they might have interest in and all could be available when it comes time to make the choice.
But it’s going to take some time – probably a couple of weeks or so – to whittle that group of eight or 10 guys down to about four or five to put in some kind of priority list.
They don’t know who will eventually make it to that last group and I certainly don’t, but that’s when the news and the chat should really start.
The process now is weeding and ranking a large number of possibilities, a number too great to really break down and prioritize at the moment. Some day, we’ll figure out who’s left but that day’s a while off.
Oh yeah, Mighty Yankees opener tonight, if the scheduled thunderstorms hold off. Don’t think any of the networks are carrying this one so you’ll have to check back in the morning to see how we fared.