Why the Raptors travel across the world to meet NBA prospects

The assistant GM/VP of player personnel for the Raptors discusses why Toronto isn't shy to travel anywhere in the world to meet NBA prospects and how that impacts its drafting process.

Video Transcript

- A couple guys who are probably going to go a high lottery or whatever-- and it sounds like you spoken to-- they said that and whatever the post-combine. What value does that have for you guys to travel with guys who seem to be high well outside your range?

- Yeah, I think we-- every year, we kind of approach the combine as do our best to get to as many high-level guys as we can because like we talked about, they're not going to send them to us here in Toronto. And so our best bet is to use that opportunity at the combine to just get to know them personally. And you never know what comes up on draft night in terms of moving up to where if you have the opportunity to have at least sat down with them and get to know them a little bit, you have something to go off in addition to all the film work that we've done and the background checks that we've done to have a little bit of a portfolio on guys to be able to like really debate more comfortably than just taking roll of the dice and see who's there.

And so it's a little bit for draft night prep. But also these guys are-- they're all eventually free agents. And they're all-- everybody falls in love with players in the draft that two years later, for whatever reason there, the situation is not the same. And they come up in trade talks. And we can look back on some of these pre-draft preparations that we've done and use them as much as we can later on.

- Was that-- did you speak to Precious before the draft? Obviously a player who went outside your range.

- Yeah.

- I think then example of a guy you use that kind of--

- Yeah, absolutely. I mean, he was in an interesting one because it was in the pandemic. And there wasn't the combine. But we were able to do a Zoom interview with him, got to know him. And again, yeah, it was one of those things where just from relationships and knowing that how high we were on him in the draft process, his agency was very open to us meeting with him virtually and getting to know him similarly to what we would have done at the combine.

And yeah, I mean, he's a guy that we were so high on towards, like, let's go above and beyond to try and get to know this guy a little bit just in case we can move up and secure him.

- There are two Canadian guys in this draft who are sort of unique or different than the rest with Miller and Sharpe who have never played college basketball. What's it like scouting those guys? And what problems are-- what challenges does that present?

- Lots of challenges. I mean, it's one of those things where it's on us to do our work with finding as much footage as we can, do our best of prep for in the event that we're looking at those guys come draft time. And there was definitely rumblings that they would be in the draft early on in the process to where we were able to kind of get a jump on it and do our best of prep before it became official.

And so now at this point, it's just-- it's definitely not nearly the same level of content that all the other players have. But it's not unlike a lot of players that are overseas or grainy footage online that you find some guys that you have to kind of sift through. And so it's not as if it's something that we're not used to doing. It just makes it a little bit more difficult.

- What are kind of traits do you look for in a role player when you're trying to project somebody to get to the bottom part of your rotation? What kind of trades are you looking at?

- I think a lot of it is just knowing the types of players that we've had success with in those sorts of roles and what they bring to the table. A lot of times, it's for one, like, do they just know how to play? Like, are they going to make the correct passes and defensive reads and do what's right for the team?

Because a lot of times, you know, so many of these players in college or wherever they're coming from, they're usually the main player on their team. If they're good enough for the NBA, they're probably like go to player. And so how many of those guys can shift their mentality and be a complementary player at this level?

It's a little bit harder, I think, than a lot of people get credit for like making that shift. And so you just watch a lot of film. And you get to see or even seen them in person and watch how they play it like amongst their team in terms of making the right reads and doing the things, the little things that help their team win. Because a lot of times if a role player comes in and if they're not doing those little things or if they're making a lot of mistakes or not playing enough defense, like, they're probably not going to see the floor up here. So if you look for those sorts of things, it at least sets the tone of this guy could be a pretty good role player for us down the road.