Toumani Camara pick in NBA Draft adds more defense to Suns
Jun 22, 2023, 10:30 PM | Updated: 11:51 pm
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
With Jordan Goodwin coming over in the Bradley Beal trade and the potential of a few free agents returning for the Phoenix Suns, they added even more defense to the supporting cast through the 52nd pick in the NBA Draft with Dayton’s Toumani Camara.
The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie covers this stuff better than just about anyone and ranked Camara 67th overall, painting a fairly simple picture of what the 23-year-old out of Belgium is as a prospect.
It’s easy to sell yourself on a 6-foot-7 player without shoes who has a 7-foot wingspan and plays solid, switchable defense. In the NBA today, there might be no easier player type to sell yourself on. Camara is certainly worth a two-way flier, given his frame, defense and potential to shoot it.
Vecenie puts Camara down size-wise as someone with “essentially a perfect frame” for the modern 4.
The idea with that position in the direction the game is headed in starts with the basic foundation of being able to guard multiple positions as a switchable defender and rebound. Camara’s got that down. In his defensive clips, you can see an ability for Camara to not only defend by sliding his feet but using his chest after that as well. It’s a bonus when strong athletes know how to use their physicality in a basketball sense.
If Camara is given time to load up on two feet and block shots, dude can get up with that length. You can imagine how an athlete like this in the A-10 piled up a few impressive highlights.
Toumani Camara is a lockdown defender, being able to guard almost any spot on the court and any position as well, being 6'8 with a 7'0.5 wingspan. Good help-side blocker, and can lock up drives with ease pic.twitter.com/MVwg429Jbn
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Here’s an offensive highlight of that explosiveness. It’s not a quick-twitch dynamic by any means but give him a few steps and he’s launching. Watch out!
— Dayton Basketball (@DaytonMBB) January 11, 2023
In the rebounding department, Camara snagged 7.7 a game across his last three years of college, including over two a game on the offensive glass.
The last box to check is the jumper to be a consistent positive contributor at the position. Vecenie notes the 36.3% from 3-point range for Camara this year was an uptick, coming off a 30.3% mark the previous two combined seasons. Free throw shooting numbers can also serve as a fairly reliable indicator, and Camara’s career mark across four years was a troubling 63.1%.
The lefty has a pretty smooth motion all things considered.
— Dayton Basketball (@DaytonMBB) February 25, 2023
— Dayton Basketball (@DaytonMBB) March 1, 2023
Ultimately, that’ll swing his chances of making an instant impact. The other areas of the floor are not too promising. Vecenie brings up Camara’s negative assist-to-turnover ratio and how the slashing’s functionality is “essentially a straight-line driver without a ton of burst in terms of first step.” But that’s OK. The other skills are far more important to his overall profile.
Camara, per Vecenie, stood out at the Portsmouth Invitational, a secondary NBA Draft Combine of sorts where lesser prospects go to get assessed in a group setting. Camara was enough of a standout that he later got invited to the actual combine. That’s always a positive.
Given the first impression Vecenie and the video paints, Camara’s adaptability when it comes to picking up NBA defenses will be the biggest thing for him. If concepts and schemes come to him naturally, he’s absolutely shown the talent level on that end to be helpful to a defense, especially with his rebounding. Add on an average 3-point shot and you’ve got a rotation piece.
Knowing that now, it’s a pretty logical pick at this point in the draft, all around. Vecenie ended it well on Camara.
If you’re looking to invest in a draft prospect who could help you sooner rather than later if the shot comes through, Camara is a good one to take a flier on.
That is what the Suns are looking for. After the Beal and Kevin Durant trades, their ability to add any more players this offseason comes down to potentially trading Deandre Ayton, using a $5 million trade exception, signing free agents to the veteran’s minimum and adding two-way contracts. Nailing a second-round pick would be a huge swing.
On the current roster, Camara is the only other wing besides Durant. Ish Wainright’s team option is likely to get picked up and the Suns have Bird rights to retain Torrey Craig. They’ll presumably want Josh Okogie back as well. That’s four defensive-minded wings off the bench, as the identity of the team under head coach Frank Vogel continues to take shape.