The pre-draft process for the 2020 NBA Draft will be like nothing ever seen before.
With all the rules and regulations in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, no prospect is allowed to visit a team at their home facilities, resulting in teams having to watch workouts and conducting interviews over Zoom. Teams are reportedly allowed to visit up to 10 prospects for in-person workouts and interviews, a number well short of the dozens of players teams would typically get to know up close and personal prior to the draft.
So how does that affect a team like the Toronto Raptors, who have had a ton of success in evaluating talent to make the right selection on draft night?
"It's very different than what we're used to, I can tell you that," Raptors assistant general manager and vice president Dan Tolzman told the media in an interview on Wednesday. "It's one of a kind and it seems like it's never-ending, to be totally honest with you.
"It's one of those things where we are doing what we can within the guidelines that the league has given us, and we're making the best of it. Thankfully, our scouting department, our front office is designed to not be too thrown off by these new ways of doing things."
Toronto has two picks, Nos. 29 and 59, in the 2020 NBA Draft - the first time it has had multiple picks in the same draft since back in 2016.
The Raptors have a busy offseason looming large following draft night with a number of key rotation players set to enter free agency, so this year more than most, it's vital they draft the right players for their roster.
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"I think it's gonna come down to trusting in our gut feeling in some of these players that we don't have the pre-draft process to change your mind after seeing guys, here or there, or watching them through different setups that we usually do," Tolzman stated.
"So going based on what our initial feeling was on guys. It's gonna be interesting to see if not just us, but teams in general, how the draft goes in terms of teams basing their picks on gut feeling and video."
Toronto has done a great job in the past in finding some diamonds in the rough, All-NBA forward Pascal Siakam (No. 27 in 2016) and starting guard Fred VanVleet (undrafted in 2016) being prime examples. But finding those types of prospects may be a bit harder over Zoom workouts and interviews.
"Usually there's a lot of risers and fallers based on whether it's the draft combine, individual workouts, 3-on-3 workouts, all that kind of stuff, that isn't happening," Tolzman said.
Even so, Tolzman is confident that this draft pool may be more balanced than past drafts, giving the Raptors an opportunity to pick up a contributor, even with a late first-round pick.
"I'd say the best way to describe it is very balanced. There's going to be a lot of rotation-level players that come out of this draft, kind of all across the board, and I think probably more than usual, the undrafted market is going to be huge because normally, players that maybe early on were expected to go undrafted, they worked their way into the draft picture, and those workouts and those opportunities for them to do so just didn't happen this year.
"You're going to see guys come out of nowhere and be contributors next year."
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The undrafted market is another place where the Raptors have had some success, with Second Team All-Rookie guard Terence Davis as the most recent example of that, in addition to VanVleet.
"It's gonna look a little different, the process leading up to it," Tolzman concluded. "Hopefully when it's all said and done, looking back on it, it won't be much different in terms of outcome of it."
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