In order for next month’s NBA Draft to be considered a success for the Toronto Raptors, adding size and depth to the frontcourt has to be the franchise’s top priority. But despite the irreplaceable contributions that Toronto received from its guards last season, the Raptors have also expressed interest in adding another capable ball handler with an outside shot to their roster.
With that in mind, Toronto has scheduled a private workout on Thursday for Canadian NBA hopeful Tyler Ennis, a projected lottery pick who is expected to be taken long before the reigning Atlantic Division champs make their first selection.
During the NBA’s rookie combine earlier this month, along with many of the other top-10 prospects, GM Masai Ujiri made sure to meet with the former University of Syracuse standout, and this week’s follow-up workout could be a sign that something is brewing within Toronto’s front office.
Of course, until June 27, all we as basketball fans can do is speculate on the endless possibilities that come with a first-round pick in this year’s draft class. But considering both the circumstances as well as the parties involved, little would come as a surprise.
In his only season of NCAA basketball, Ennis found immediate success in the ACC with 12.9 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 3.4 RPG in over 35 MPG. And aside from earning All-ACC Defensive and Second Team honors, Ennis was a pure playmaker down the stretch for the Orangemen, a quality that Toronto could definitely use.
The fact that Ennis is a native of Toronto is enough on its own to make the Raptors an ideal fit, but in order to even have a shot at the highly-touted point guard, a deal of near-epic proportions would have to be made with a team currently scheduled to pick within the first five selections — and even then, nothing is guaranteed.
So why would Ujiri choose to essentially waste the time of both Ennis and the Raptors less than a month shy of the draft?
Sure, bringing the local kid in for one last look does wonders for the headlines this time of year, but would anyone in Toronto’s front office really go to this length for a positive headline following the best season in franchise history? Highly doubtful. During his time as an NBA executive, Ujiri has developed a reputation as a capable judge of talent and builder of team chemistry. And when the Raptors were headed for another disappointing campaign last December, Ujiri was the architect of the trade that sent Rudy Gay to California and Toronto to the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the more likely answer to these questions can be found in the sheer uncertainty of the draft. Rated as high as a lottery pick by some and as low as 20th by others, Ennis could land almost anywhere in the first round. But in the end, if Ujiri and the Raptors manage to somehow make Ennis the first Canadian to ever join the franchise, they’ll have found the perfect way to set the tone for the upcoming season.
Ty is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @abovethefoldTy.