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Basketball Draft Digest

Toronto Raptors: Draft Needs and Prospect Watchlist

By Arya Chawla,


Highlighting the draft needs of the Raptors, as well as plausible selections in their projected range, and how they’d fit in.

The Raptors are not a team that lacks talent. Pascal Siakam is an All-NBA talent, Fred VanVleet was an all-star last year, Scottie Barnes is the reigning Rookie Of The Year, and defensive stud OG Anunoby is having the best season of his career. Additionally, they are led by a championship-winning coach in Nick Nurse.

Still, Toronto is not good. They’re currently a play-in team in the Eastern Conference and are on the cusp of falling out of the picture entirely. Why? They are blatantly devoid of two major necessities: advantage creation and shooting. They lack anybody who can consistently get to the teeth of the defense and force them into rotation. Furthermore, they don’t have the ability to finish plays from beyond the arc when they do generate them. Consequently, the Raptors are 23rd in triples made and 27th in 3P%.

At this point, Toronto also lacks a general direction. They aren’t good enough to compete in the slightest, yet aren’t bad enough to vie for a top pick. The front office will likely have to commit to rebuilding or contending this off-season, and their first-round draft pick will likely play a big part in that decision.

Projected First-Round Pick (Per Tankathon ): 10

Team Needs: Playmaking, Rim Pressure, Shooting, Rebounding

Here are some reasonable prospects Toronto fans should keep their eye on as potential targets come June, and how they’d fit in:

Ausar Thomspon , City Reapers (Overtime Elite)

There are three players in this draft who project to be monster rim-pressurers in the league: Scoot Henderson, Amen Thomspon, and Ausar Thompson. Unfortunately for Toronto, if they were to keep the 10th overall pick, Ausar Thompson would be the only one that could possibly be available. Fortunately, he’s extremely good. The 6-foot-6 monster athlete is a menacing slasher, dominant defender, and crafty passer. He’d bring a new dimension to the Raptors’ approach and could unlock some serious high-end outcomes if his burgeoning pull-up shooting continues to progress.

Keyonte George , Baylor

In this draft class, no player mixes playmaking and outside shooting like George. The 6-foot-4 guard has shot nearly 35% from deep in seven attempts per contest this season and has dished out 2.8 assists a night. The Big 12 freshman of the year would alleviate some of Toronto’s advantage creation issues with his off-the-dribble game. Additionally, he’d add much-needed pull-up shot-making and wouldn’t sacrifice much on defense. Not only does the Baylor guard help to quickly patch up a lot of holes in the Raptors’ roster, but he also has immense star potential as well.

Nick Smith Jr. , Arkansas

Smith Jr. has had an injury-riddled season, but he’s healthy and thriving now. The 6-foot-4 Razorback has an extremely high ceiling due to his stellar touch and pull-up shooting. His foundation of tools could easily help him become the NBA’s next great combo guard, and the electric playmaker Canada needs. However, I do view him as more of a project than the other two prospects mentioned above. This doesn’t mean that he is a risky prospect. Rather, he’ll just need more time to work on himself physically.

Other potential targets:

Gradey Dick, Kansas

Maxwell Lewis, Pepperdine

Jordan Hawkins, UConn

Jalen Hood-Schfino, Indiana

Dariq Whitehead, Duke

Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State

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