A likely NBA first round draft pick in the twenties, UCLA freshman T.J. Leaf was in Toronto for a predraft workout and he showed why he could be the Raptors next stretch four prospect.
The 6’10 forward shot 46.6 percent from three-point range in college and had some big time numbers in a successful program averaging 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Not surprisingly the Raptors wanted to see if he could do more than just score.
“Playmaking, being able to rebound the ball and just attack the rim,” were the things he was being asked to do said Leaf. “Not just score, but be able to make my teammate better.
“I am not the best defender right now so if they want to put me in defensive drills to help me get better, it’s great.”
The Raptors are likely in the market for a stretch four coming off the bench next season with forward Patrick Patterson about to become an unrestricted free agent and president Masai Ujiri expected to blow the budget re-signing Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker.
Last year’s rookie big men aren’t known for their shooting and someone like Leaf could earn a spot in the Raptors rotation early on next season.
“He plays the right way,” Director, player personnel Dan Tolzman said. “Decision-making and team-oriented basketball, he’s elite at that. Always seems to make the right passes. Finds himself in the right spot whether it’s opportunity rebounds or that sort of thing.
“He doesn’t need to be dominating the ball to have an impact on the game.”
Assuming the ULCA forward is still on the board when the Raptors draft at 23rd, he seems like a logical pick for a team like Toronto that is need of more three-point shooting.