The 2020 NBA draft is quickly approaching, and unlike last year’s draft, the Raptors hold all of their own picks. Not having a draft pick in the 2019 NBA draft was of no consolation when considering they used that pick to acquire Kawhi Leonard, leading to Toronto’s first NBA championship. The lack of a first round pick last season was also mitigated by the signing of undrafted free agent (UDFA) Terence Davis. Signing productive UDFA’s has become a skill of the Raptors front office in recent seasons, along with great player development which has been aided by their G-League affiliate, the Raptors 905. Looking towards the upcoming draft on November 18th, let’s dissect who the Raptors can look to add to their team.
This year the Raptors hold 29th pick in the first round of the draft. This pick falls far outside of lottery territory and there is no guarantee at this point in the draft that they will receive a player who will ever make an impact on the court for the team (looking at you Bruno Caboclo). Luckily for Raptors nation, the team in recent years has had more success stories than failures. Most notably, OG Anunoby drafted 23rd overall in 2017, and Pascal Siakam, drafted 27th overall in 2016. In recent years the Raptors have found themselves selecting a player near the end of the draft which is a testament to the team’s regular season success over the past half-decade. They have managed to maximize the value of late first round picks in recent years, so now they will look to see how the Raptors can maintain their trend of draft success and player development.
First we must assess our current needs by assessing who we currently have under contract:
|Point Guard:||Kyle Lowry|
Terence Davis (A),
|Small Forward:||OG Anunoby,
|Power Forward:||Pascal Siakam|
(A) – Arrested potentially effecting Roster Spot
For sake of the exercise we are going to assume that Terence Davis is not going to be released, leaving the Raptors with three shooting guards on the roster. Now, we can specifically address our positions of need. Based off the current standing of the roster we can assume that we would benefit from frontcourt help, thus a center or a power forward. Due to uncertainty around Fred VanVleet who is currently an unrestricted free agent, the Raptors may also look into drafting a guard as well.
Options in the Frontcourt:
Nnaji played power forward/center for the University of Arizona last season averaging more than 16 PPG and 8 RPG. Nnaji could provide the Raptors with a player who could fill Chris Boucher’s position on the roster if they are unable to re-sign him. Nnaji is less explosive and lacks a reliable three-point shot, but with strong development, he should be able to replace Boucher. The biggest issue when watching Boucher on the court is his lack of strength, at roughly 200 pounds. Nnaji, weighing in at 240 pounds, will not be as much of a liability down low in comparison to Boucher, thus creating an opportunity for more playing time in comparison. Although a great energetic player, Boucher missed out on playing time due to his weaknesses. Not possessing the same physical weakness will allow for an easier path to playing time for Nnaji. Him being only 19 years old is also another big positive.
Isaiah Stewart played one season at Washington University as a combo big. He brings a big strong body to smash around down low and secure rebounds. Ten years ago, Stewart would have been an easy lottery pick. Unfortunately, as the league moves towards a three point shooting, “run and gun” style, big men like Stewart have seen their value decline rapidly. That being said it does not mean this style of play has absolutely no role in the NBA. If drafted, Stewart could provide a strong rebounding presence off the bench, and at 19 years of age, he also has room to grow. He will also provide a more defensive minded presence in comparison to drafting Nnaji.
Options in the Backcourt:
Mannion was a known name with high expectations prior to even signing and making his debut at Arizona. Unfortunately, the intensified competition at the NCAA level he faced tempered his draft expectations after an underperforming season at Arizona. Regardless of his final stats at times he has shown flashes of being a fairly complete player. He just hasn’t wrapped it altogether yet. He has the ability to come off the bench right away, but with some development, could become an impactful NBA guard.
Maledon is a 19 year old point guard from France. Although not particularly a scorer, he provides great size in combination with high basketball IQ at the point guard position. He will not break the game open for a team in anyway but a team should be able to rely on him to manage the offense off the bench if need be. Over the next few years, if he manages to develop more as a scorer, he would allow the more prominent parts of his game to flourish.
There are no guarantees when drafting in the second round that you will get a player that will provide any value whatsoever. The second round is where you can take a risk, pick and stash, or perhaps get lucky and find a diamond in the rough. Below I will note a few names to hope for at the end of the draft or as UDFA.
- Tre Jones
- Jay Scrubb
- Myles Powell
Regardless of who the Raptors come away with throughout the offseason and the draft, I have the utmost faith that the Raptors front office will bring in the right players to help Toronto succeed.