NBA draft: Peyton Watson would be another athletic, multi-positional defender for Raptors

If the Raptors are looking to add more wings with length and defensive versatility, Peyton Watson could be their answer. Listen to the full episode on the best options for Toronto at No. 33 on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed, or watch on YouTube.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: --name, let's go with-- you had Peyton Watson, UCLA which I love.

COREY TULABA: Yeah. So I mean, one, Peyton Watson for me, easy no-brainer second round pick because this is a kid who, again, he was another one of these high-pedigree guys, supposed to be top 10 coming into the year, and went to a situation where he is kind of raw. Had a major growth spurt in high school. And now he's going to a team that, their ultimate goal was to win a national championship.

They had two veterans coming back in Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. This is a team that was going to compete. They had a lot of depth. And it was probably the wrong decision for his ultimate draft stock because he didn't get the opportunities to play the minutes that you would have wanted to see.

And don't get me wrong. The jump shot is far away. But this is a kid-- when he was on the floor, you actually felt him on the floor. He was doing stuff out there. He was trying to make an impact, even if it was going to be in five minutes of the game.

And to me, I'm not writing him off as a high-level prospect, especially because some of the intel that I've done behind the scenes like tells me that I'm on the right track. There are people that are believers in his game.


COREY TULABA: So I see that. And then you look at the physical tools and the profile. This is kind of one of those Maasai guys. He's 6' 8". He's versatile. He's long. He's athletic. He's a little raw, but he's an upside guy that you bet on, because at the end of the day to me, he's going to be a positive defender in this league who's switching--

AMIT MANN: Quickly too.

COREY TULABA: Quickly, at least one to four. He can legitimately cover guards out on the perimeter. And I think he could scale up and bang. Obviously, right away he gets a bigger guy. Like he switches onto Kawhi. Kawhi is one of the strongest human beings in basketball. He's going to do what he wants with him.

But eventually when he grows into his body, this is the type of guy that you want to throw on those guys, long, athletic, quick twitch, he has all that. And I think there's ball handling skills to unlock that he showed in high school. And as long as he goes to a spot that develops players-- the Raptors have been doing a great job developing this kind of player.


COREY TULABA: I think that he's just that home run swing that I actually think the ball's coming down the middle. I really think you could knock this one out of the park. It's not just swinging at something in the dirt.

AMIT MANN: And UCLA, their offense, it can be a little bit stagnant at times too. And I think that contributes to a player like him. And for any player, if it's a stagnant offense, if you don't have a good offense for any prospect, then it's going to show in your game. And it's going to show in a negative way. And that's going to impact your draft stock.

For him, the tools are there, like you said. I could see him immediately coming in and just being a player who's accepting his complementary role, who's going to cut. He's going to drive. Defensively, a multi-positional athlete, steals, blocks, rebounds. He's going to do that stuff off the bat.

Sure, it's going to be a transition getting to the NBA and learning how to guard there. But he's going to hustle. And he strikes me as that kind of player that will give you that second effort, second, third, fourth effort on plays. And that takes time, usually, for a lot of players to realize that they have to do that. But I think he's already there, which is a credit to him.

COREY TULABA: The thing that I like about him too is I'm big on kinesthetics and how guys move on the court. And I think sometimes you could just-- if you went and he was playing at LA Fitness, you'd be like, oh, that guy, he's a basketball player. He's supposed to play basketball. He just moves like NBA guys.

And you can't base your entire analysis on something like that. That would be insane. But it is something that I do look for because I just think that there's a fluidity that NBA players have.

AMIT MANN: Sure. Speaking of that, his pull-up shot, although where his hand is and maybe some of the mechanics were a bit off. But his balance and footwork are pretty good already, I would say. Fair or no, what do you think?

COREY TULABA: Yeah. I mean, he definitely-- it was something he went to in high school. It was something he went to in high school, for sure. I'm a buyer in it. I think that-- and especially in the NBA, maybe he's not Paul George off the bounce or anything. But I think in the NBA, shooting is the thing that is really easy to develop, especially in spot-up situations, which I'm confident he can develop into.

So maybe he's not that wing All-Star player. But I think there are so many avenues for him. I could also see him being a Derrick Jones Jr. type of guy where you could even play him small ball center and use him as a screener where he's just using his athleticism, passing out of the short role.

And I also love the thought of having guys like him, Pascal, Scottie Barnes all on the floor. That's so fun, the thought of that together, just all that length, all of that athleticism, all that passion, all that defensive potential. It's very intriguing to me.

AMIT MANN: The passion is an interesting one too that you mentioned. Because I think John Montero has a very similar aspect as well. He's got that energy about him. And Jaylin Williams, Arkansas Jaylin Williams-- I guess, they both-- everyone so far that we've talked about has that passion for the game.

And it kind of shows in a similar vein that Scottie Barnes' does is that you just see how much they love basketball. And if you want to see a player improve-- I remember Scottie Barnes was working on his jumper and getting a workout in the night of him getting drafted. That's Scottie Barnes.

And you could see a person like Peyton Watson doing that as well because he wants to improve day by day. He wants to get going. He wants to become the best version of himself. I like him too. We're going pretty well.

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