The Toronto Raptors will have a top five pick in the NBA Draft for the first time since 2011, and there has not been a better time to own the fourth overall pick in just as long. The 2021 class of talent is said to have four players who stand out above the rest: Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, and Jalen Suggs. While each of them have the ability to shift a franchise’s fortunes for years to come, Cunningham remains the consensus #1 pick due to his unique combination of size and playmaking ability. That leaves the trio of Mobley, Green, and Suggs to be swooped up by the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Toronto Raptors.
Barring any exponential rises up the big board in the next month, the only question will be regarding which of Mobley, Green, or Suggs ends up in Raptors red. Could the Rockets and Cavaliers both pass up on Mobley because they have Christian Wood and Jarrett Allen as their centers of the future already in place? Might Cleveland look to move on from Collin Sexton to bring in an even more elite scorer like Green? Do the Rockets see Suggs as a long-term fit next to Kevin Porter Jr., and Wood? Ultimately, who will the Raptors end up with?
We polled the squad at Raptors Cage to get their opinions on who they realistically think Toronto will land, assuming they decide to stay pat with the #4 pick. Here are their answers:
I think Jalen Suggs will be the guy left at 4. All three of the most realistic options are amazing so you cannot lose here. Suggs will slot very nicely next to Fred as a primary ball handler and playmaker from day one, and his defence is very Raptors-esque. His shooting isn’t elite, but I suspect that with the Raptors development team he will improve. The sky is the limit with Suggs and he will be a franchise altering talent for the organization for years to come. This doesn’t necessarily guarantee that Lowry will be gone, but it surely increases the likelihood of that, which makes this pick bitter sweet.
Despite Jalen Suggs being viewed by many as the fourth best player in this elite group, I think that he is the most complete player in the draft. The sentiment that Suggs does everything very well, but nothing exceptionally well is accurate. The fact that Suggs has been a winner at every level, combined with the fact that he will be part of a lucrative Raptors development system bodes well for the likelihood of him becoming a star in the NBA. Overall, I prefer Suggs’ defensive upside, playmaking, leadership qualities, and his ability to contribute on or off the ball offensively to Jalen Green. The biggest thing for Suggs to work on in the NBA will be limiting his turnovers. On the flip side, Green certainly looks like a player who could average 25 points in his sleep when he hits his prime: he has Zach LaVine’s athletecism, and shades of Bradley Beal’s pull-up game, however Suggs still appears to be more of a “sure thing,” simply because there are no holes in his game. Evan Mobley remains my favourite pick out of the three if he’s available, but I find it hard to imagine that he will be on the board by the time the Raptors select at #4.
The fit may be controversial, but if we don’t trade our pick I suspect we will take the best player available. Cunningham appears to be a safe bet at #1 for Detroit. Houston is in a rebuild, and although they will retain the services of Christian Wood, Mobley might be too good of a prospect to pass up on. Even if the Rockets decide against taking Mobley, with Wall under contract throughout next season, Green appears to be the best alternative option. With Cleveland rumoured to be looking to move on from Sexton, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take Green as his replacement. It appears that Garland has been chosen as the Cavaliers point guard of the future over his ball-dominant counterpart. It’s important to note that if Detroit is decided on Cunningham at #1, I believe Mobley is too talented of a prospect to fall out of the top three, despite the fit being complicated in both Cleveland and Houston. Thus, this would leave Jalen Suggs as the Raptors Kyle Lowry replacement, and Fred VanVleet’s future backcourt partner. If this doesn’t complicate Gary Trent Jr’s free agency, I suspect that there will be healthy competition in the backcourt entering training camp next season.
I think Cunningham is the clear #1 pick in this year’s draft. Houston already has Wood as their center of the future, and I don’t know if Mobley will fit with Wood, simply because they both have very similar skillsets. Cleveland was also rumoured to be interested in retaining their free agent center, Jarrett Allen, for big money this offseason, making it difficult to justify drafting Mobley as well. The latest rumors are that Cleveland might want to split Garland and Sexton, and if that is the case, then they might go with a guard to replace the Sexton’s production. It seems unfathomable, but in such a scenario, the Raptors would be left with Evan Mobley, who I think is the most talented player of the four, and who addresses the Raptors greatest need in the frontcourt.
I hope that the Toronto Raptors draft Jalen Green with their fourth-overall draft pick this year. Even though Green might not fill an immediate position void on the Raptors team like Evan Mobley would, Green has the highest ceiling out of any player in the NBA Draft this year, in my opinion. Green is a three-level scorer and under the Toronto Raptors development system, I believe that he could become the number one option on offense in no time. With Siakam being best suited as the “Robin” to “Batman”, Green can fill that “Batman” role in a couple of years and become the focal point of the Raptors offense. In conclusion, Jalen Green has all of the tools to become a superstar in the league, and I guarantee you that he is much more ready for the NBA than people think, after playing in the G-League last year where competition is much more fierce than in college.