According to Dallas Morning News and ESPN, Dwayne Casey and the Toronto Raptors have agreed to a coaching deal. We don’t know the terms yet, but apparently Casey has already accompanied the Raptors to NY to look at Bismack Biyombo. Colangelo isn’t a guy who likes to waste time, and he shows it once again.
Casey was one of the front runners to this job along with Lawrence Frank two weeks ago, but with the Mavericks winning the NBA championship, it’s a no surprise that Casey became the only candidate. Casey was a head coach a couple of years ago with Minnesota, and was let go after the Wolves overachieved in their first 40 games (20-20 with Casey). Casey has the pedigree, head coaching experience and respect of players (every Maverick players give him high praises). His implement of the zone defense is a huge part of the reason why the Mavericks won the championship. Even in Minnesota, Casey’s team would show a high level of intensity on the defensive end (didn’t hurt to have Kevin Garnett).
I will spend more time on this when this is made official. I like this move, it’s a step in the right direction for the Toronto Raptors. This team needs to be better defensively, so hiring someone who is a successful defensive guru will help.
Raptor Draft Preview
The draft is on Thursday, and I have heard plenty of names for the Raptors at #5. Obviously, the Raptors pick is heavily depended on the first four picks, but here are the potential players for the #5 pick:
1) Brandon Knight: If Knight is still around at 5, the Raptors will probably take him. However, the Jazz may pick him at #3. He is a very good athlete, good size for a PG, but he hasn’t shown PG instinct. Many scouts think he is a combo guard, but he is young enough to learn how to run a team. I compare him to Jrue Holiday; similar size, strengths and weaknesses. Holiday also came out of the draft as a freshman. If the Raptors do pick Knight, I expect him to be the backup PG for the Raptors in his first season. I don’t think he is ready to be a starting PG for a NBA team yet.
2) Kemba Walker: Walker is more of a sure thing than Knight. With Barbosa possibly leaving the Raptors, Walker would make sense here. He is the quickest guard, with tremendous handle. His size is a question mark and he isn’t a true PG either, but he can run the team better than Knight. And no one plays harder than Kemba.
3) Jan Vesely: Vesely sound more like an athlete than a basketball player. From reading some of the scouting report, he is a very good dunker, excellent athlete, with very good size and works very hard. On the other hand, he is not a good shooter, almost no handle, no post game, and questionable defensive player. I have seen him dunk in some video, and yes he can really dunk. His shooting and turnover numbers though, not too good.
4) Enes Kanter: If Kanter drops, then the Raptors could go with him. Kanter isn’t as athletic as some other players in this draft, but many scouts are impressed with his basketball IQ and his toughness. Apparently he has a very good post game and can rebound the ball. But we really don’t know this, since he hasn’t played a competitive game for almost a year now.
5) Kawhi Leonard: Not a big fan of his in San Diego State, but you can’t argue with his success there. Chad Ford of ESPN thinks he is the 5th best player in the draft, and John Hollinger’s draft rater has him ranked #5 as well. Excellent rebounder, works hard, plays defense, not much of an offensive force; his shooting needs a lot of work.
6) Bismack Biyombo: One of the big discoveries at the Nike Hoop Summit. He has very good instinct on the defensive end. Some scouts think he is the next Serge Ibaka. His offensive game needs work, lots of work. The Raptors are very interested in him, he maybe a reach at 5, so they may either try to get an extra pick to get him or trade down to do so.
Other players: Tristan Thompson would be a very good pickup for the only Canadian team. I think he is very similar to Ed Davis in many ways, Thompson is a little better offensively though. Not sure the Raptors would pick another PF… some scouts compared Jonas Valanciunas to Pau Gasol, I don’t really see it, but he is 7′ft tall and has good offensive instinct, his buyout is an issue though.
This is a difficult draft to evaluate. All these players have a lot of questions marks. Knight and Kanter has the most upside, but they may not be there at #5, and they are risky picks. Biyombo can’t score, but his potential on defense is intriguing. Kemba and Lenoard are ready to play now, but may not have the upside that other players have. To be honest, I don’t know who to pick at #5.
But if I do have to make a pick, I will go with Kemba. Love his heart and ability to create. At worst, he is a Bobby Jackson. Kemba does possess the leadership that this team sorely needs since day 1.