As I’ve stated recently, I think there is a group of about 7-to-10 potential draft targets for the Raptors with the No. 8 selection. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be looking at each prospect in that group, one at a time.

First up is St. John’s forward Moe Harkless.

Moe Harkless – SF – 6’8, 207 lbs.

St. John’s

Harkless is one of the quintessential “unpredictable” young talents that come around year after year. No one can look at the forward and say for certain what he will be or won’t be, or heck, even what he is right now.

What we know is that while he will have to transition from power forward to small forward at the NBA level and will have to get stronger, at 6’8, he definitely has the frame of an NBA body at the three spot.

Harkless is an explosive athlete with great leaping ability who showed some nice balance in his game during his first and only season at St. John’s, posting averages of over 15 points and eight-plus rebounds to go with more than a block and steal per game in about 36 minutes per contest.

If you look at the possibilities and the ways he can contribute in all areas of the game if he develops adequately, you’ll be left, like many who look at this 2012 Draft class, thinking Harkless is a great “sleeper” candidate, especially considering the 19-year-old is projected as a mid-to-late first round guy.

That may very well turn out to be the case (Harkless ending up a 2012 draft night steal) if he does fall past the top-15 or top-20, where he will then be a nice project-type pickup. But where young players all about “potential” are a risk to teams is near the top of the draft.

Harkless’ offensive game still has a long way to go, he was inconsistent for stretches this season and as already mentioned, he’s going to need to get stronger. But having said that, you could probably make those complaints about most teenage basketball prospects and a lot of the guys in this Draft.

And a lot of those other guys in similar positions might not be able to help out on the boards or on the defensive end as much as Harkless can.

At the end of the day, there are others in Toronto’s draft range that I’d rather have, but if Harkless blows Colangelo and co. away during his workout and is judged to have a strong character and desire to fulfill his potential, he would be an interesting young piece at small forward.

I still think he ends up being a late lottery or mid-first round guy, but I wouldn’t be shocked to hear his name called in the top-10, or even at No. 8.

Comments (10)

  1. There are countless possibilities approaching this draft year and players like Moe Harkless undoubtedly make the draft much more interesting. It’s driving me nuts, why can’t June 28th come already?!

  2. BC, you need to pick up Ariza and the 10th pick, then use it on Moe.

    • Actually, Harkless is often compared to Ariza, so there might be some duplication there.

      • Good point. And it would really depend who we get with 8 anyway. I’m just hoping BC buys the 10th pick and that Ariza is the cost to get it. (plus a late second).

  3. I never had a chance to see him in any games, but he looks like a pretty intriguing prospect to me. Pretty similar physically to MKG, a good athlete, also plays hard and solid on D (maybe not as good as MKG there). He really needs to work on his long distance shooting, but his form doesn’t look bad. Kawhi Leonard managed to improve his jumper so it can be done.

    Not sure he’s much of a playmaker though, and he may take a few years to develop. If only James Johnson could develop a more reliable jumper and be a bit less of a knucklehead out there, we’d be ok at the 3 spot.

    • he also doesn’t seem as explosive as MKG, almost lackadaisical in his style of play but then again that could just be his natural playing style. Im sure with the right coach he can turn up his tempo of play. But from what I’ve been reading, hes a solid shooter and plays good d. Definitely someone the raptors could utilize.

      • Both correct. But I really doubt BC can land MKG, so we look for lesser options like Barnes and Harkless. Even PJIII.

        • Yea, MKG is definitely a stretch. I dont really seem him falling to eight in any scenario. Then again, with the 8th pick we still have a ton of options, especially in a draft year like this. There are many guys I wouldn’t mind seeing in a raps jersey.

  4. Cool, I also wrote a piece yesterday on Harkless.

    He’s very intriguing, I like his defensive versatility and he’s the type of prospect that I would love to cheer for, even if he was reached at 8.

    I think that Colangelo and co. will be risk adversed moving forward, so I agree, likely better in the teens (unfortunately?).

  5. Harkless is one of those guys who probably declared a year too soon. That’s not to say he won’t have a good NBA career, but he might have been able to gaurantee the top-10 next year.

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