Title: Raptors approach pre-draft workouts as window into the person, not just the player
Date: May 18, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about how the Raptors use pre-draft workouts to learn about the mental and psychological aspects of players as much as the physical.
During the Toronto Raptors’ first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks, head coach Dwane Casey was reminiscing about a pre-draft workout from a few years ago. The head coach’s trip down memory lane was brought on by a play by Norman Powell, who was in the process of swinging a playoff series for the second year in a row.
As the story goes, Powell’s pre-draft workout was the stuff of legend, with the UCLA product shutting down the more highly regarded Rashad Vaughn during drills. The Raptors didn’t have room for Powell in their immediate rotation plans, but they came away impressed enough to later have the Bucks select him on their behalf as part of a draft-night trade in 2015.
“I remember his workout,” Casey said in April. “I think it was on a Saturday morning. He came in and was just a very physical and tough kid. And we needed toughness. He’s the kind of player that can play in a playoff-type game. Just his mental toughness, his physical toughness.”
The Raptors began their pre-draft workouts for this June’s draft, when they’ll pick 23rd, on Wednesday. The prospects need not look any further than Powell, a former mid-second-round pick and current developing piece of the team’s core, to see how important these sessions can be. If they need a more recent example, there’s Pascal Siakam, who fought his way from being a potential second rounder to being a late first-round pick instead.