Predicting much of anything about this year's NBA draft won't be easy

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Normally a day out from the start of the NBA draft, Raptors assistant GM and vice president of player personnel Dan Tolzman and his Raptors war room team can tell you, within a few players, who is still going to be on the board when their selection rolls around.

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But this year, with the Raptors drafting 19 and then again at 31 (the first pick of Round 2), there is no such sense of assuredness.

“I’d say this year, more than any year, most of the people we are talking to are in the same boat as we are,’ Tolzman said the day before Wednesday’s draft. “It’s wide open, like the range of players is about as wide as I can ever remember so that really makes it difficult to try and project which guys we can safely cross off the list who could get to 19 and so there’s an added level of uncertainty that I’d say isn’t common for this close to the draft.”

The unique uncertainty though did not really alter the Raptors’ process.

Tolzman confirmed the team brought in about the same number of players for in-person workouts they would bring in for a year with multiple picks, but admitted getting all the guys in they wanted wasn’t made easy by this year’s unique circumstances.

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“I think that uncertainty from the agents’ perspective was they were catching interest from a big group of the draft (for workouts),” Tolzman said. “Where we fell on that spectrum is kind of up for debate between our point of view and the agents’ point of view. So, I would say there were some decisions made on their part to prioritize other teams.”

Tolzman, though, said whether a player works out in Toronto or not has no actual bearing on who they pick.

“I don’t think we would ever rule somebody out we didn’t get in,” Tolzman said. “I think there is an understanding on both sides (teams and agents) that it’s a jigsaw puzzle that you do your best to fit in a schedule of workouts and they got 30 teams calling them to try to fit it in, so I don’t think you ever hold it against an agent or especially a player that they didn’t come and visit us, so we’re not going to take them because of that.

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“It makes things easier and better for us when we do get them in because it’s not only how the workouts go, but all the touchpoints of getting to know them and the time we spend with them and the time they get in the city really adds a level of comfort with the player. But, yeah, by no means does whether a guy got here during the pre-draft period become a prerequisite to drafting them.”

In a draft that doesn’t have a lot of brand names, Bronny James — son of Lakers’ superstar LeBron James — has stirred interest, including a recent report that linked him to Toronto.

While Tolzman wasn’t about to characterize what level of interest the Raptors might have in the famous offspring, he readily admits the team has not crossed him off their list of potential targets.

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“I mean, he’s in the mix, you know like, I wouldn’t say … it’d be a disservice to us if I told you like anything more strongly than anyone else,” Tolzman said. “I would say that every player on the board we’re looking long and hard at and I wouldn’t say that we’ve ruled anybody out any of our picks. That’s as much as I would say.”

And while it’s too early to say whether this will serve as an advantage for Toronto, it being a new wrinkle to the NBA draft, but for the first time in draft history the draft will be split over two days with Round 1 on Wednesday and Round 2 on Thursday.

The reason it might affect Toronto and potentially be an advantage is because Toronto possesses pick No. 31, which is the first pick of the second day.

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Tolzman hinted Toronto, which right now has no plans to trade the pick, could be looking at a few more offers for that pick just because teams will have a full night to digest what is still on the board.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Tolzman said. “I think everyone is learning as we go on how to approach that. We’re preparing for the phones being busy leading into that pick because as we all know there are always players that unexpectedly fall to the second round. Who those are and where their … there are teams that like those guys inevitably.

“I think we’re preparing for what that board looks like on Day 2. It could lead to maybe some more calls than what would normally be the case in a single-day draft.”

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