Over the last few days, it appears as though Syracuse guard Dion Waiters has crept up on some scouts, so much so that he might be slotted right around where the Raptors are likely to pick (the 8/9 range). While Waiters wasn’t a name a lot of Raptors fans were following before, perhaps it’s time they begin to take notice of the 20-year-old.

The recent Waiters buzz comes to us via ESPN Insider Chad Ford. On Thursday, Ford wrote that “A number of NBA scouts who I really respect have been telling me for more than a month that the real sleeper in this draft is Syracuse sophomore Dion Waiters.”

That praise is nothing compared to what comes next. Ford quotes a General Manager as saying that Waiters is the only other potential superstar in the 2012 draft class, outside of Anthony Davis. The same GM is also quoted as saying “There’s some Dwyane Wade in him.”

Comparisons are often pointless, but wow.

Waiters averaged 12.6 points (on 47.6 per cent shooting) in just over 24 minutes per game in his sophomore season at Syracuse, but he has the potential to be an offensive machine because of his ability to get to the basket.

Where things get dicey is on the other side of the ball, where Waiters played himself into Jim Boeheim’s dog house with an inconsistent defensive effort. That lack of of a defensive mindset obviously wouldn’t be welcomed or tolerated by Dwane Casey, but Waiters told Ford in an interview (which you can find in the link above) that he wants to show people he can, indeed, play D.

If he shows signs of becoming the offensive weapon he’s capable of and shows scouts and coaches that he’ll be more committed on the defensive end, then perhaps Waiters will be a serious option for the Raptors, barring Toronto moving into the top-three.

Ford now has Waiters all the way up to No. 8 on his Top-100 list, and second among guards (ahead of Jeremy Lamb) only to Florida’s Bradley Beal. In his updated Lottery Mock Draft, Ford has Waiters going to the Raptors at No. 8. Most others have Waiters as a mid to late first round guy, for now.

Obviously, much of this speculation is based on the assumption that the Raptors end up with the No. 8 selection in the draft, which we hope changes for the better on Wednesday night.

Another guy to keep your eye on, though I’m sure you already were, is Perry Jones III. The Baylor star has seen his stock fall over the last two years with inconsistent and often uninspired college performances, but in terms of pure talent mixed with size/length, you could argue that Jones has as high a ceiling as anyone in this class not named Davis.

And according to a Ford tweet on Thursday night, PJIII was enjoying a solid workout:

I’ll admit that Jones’ motor, or perceived lack of a motor, concerns me, but it’s rare to find a near seven-footer with his skillset (think Lamar Odom) in the 8-to-10 range, so I wouldn’t exactly be disappointed with him landing in Toronto.

We’ll have a look at all of the players Raptors fans should be following ahead of Wednesday’s Draft Lottery early next week.

This off-season of anticipation is getting closer…

Comments (6)

  1. One of the best, if not the best 6th man in all of college basketball this season for the Orange. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know about him because Syracuse was too good of a team this year to start him. Wouldn’t be a bad pick for a SG, but I doubt there’s superstar potential in either Waiters or Jones.

  2. Perhaps not superstar potential, but DWade light or Paul George would be excellent return for the 8th to 11th pick.

    Personally I think it comes down to PJ or Lamb. Probably whichever one is still around when BC picks.

    I think there are a couple teams ahead of us that would rather roll the bones with Barnes than Drummond, so I don’t think Barnes falls to the Raptors.

    PJ or Lamb. If we fall to 10 or 11, I’d still be happy with Waiters.

    • I think that’s it. The top 6 will be some combination or Davis, MKG, TR, Drum, Beal and Barnes. Golden State go go a number of directions but either Jones or Lamb should be available. I just don’t see Marshall or Rivers going that high and who knows what the deal with Waiters is.

      I have a feeling that if GS holds at 7, they’ll trade their pick to someone enamored with PJ3. Probably get a pretty good return, too.

    • Nevermind, it seems like GS is trying to swing a deal with Utah to hold onto the pick in case they drop. So they must have an eye on one or two players they want to keep. Seems odd as their biggest need is sf,;unless they’re eyeing PJ3 there aren’t many other sf prospects in that range. Can’t wait to see what happens Wed.

  3. How about Damian Lilliard??? The guy can flat out score, which is something the Raptors desperately need. I see him as a guy that’s very similar to isaiah thomas, because they both tore it up in college but became underrated because they faced lower competition.

    • I agree lillard has what the raptors need, a dynamic scorer with good play making ablilities. I wouldn’t mind seeing the raptors trading for a mid 1st round pick to get waiters, I c him being an iman shumpert type

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