Another day, another set of picks from Chad Ford in his latest mock draft at ESPN. Today, after a bout of re-jigging, we arrive at two names for the Raptors at pick number nine and 27. Who are they? Let's see.
With the ninth pick, Ford makes the case for Domantas Sabonis.
Power forward is Toronto's biggest need and the choice probably will come down to Sabonis, Henry Ellenson, Skal Labissiere and Deyonta Davis. You can make an argument for all four. Labissiere is the best shooter and has the highest ceiling (but also the lowest floor). Ellenson gives you a lot more skill but without the same elite athleticism. Davis is a freak athletically, but the furthest behind offensively.
Sabonis hits the sweet spot for the Raptors. He's strong, tough, ready to play now and the most skilled of the four. He isn't a great athlete, but that's the only real thing holding him back.
It's incredibly difficult to argue with the logic here. And while I may be blinded by an intense love for his dad Aryvdas, I do think Domantas could fit in with this Raptors team quite well. He's an efficient scorer and solid rebounder, with room and ability to improve both skills. I have to believe he's got a sliver of that playmaking gene that his father obviously had, too. As you could probably guess, defense is the possible weak point with Sabonis the younger, and grabbing him at nine does seem like a bit of a reach.
But look at those four names For has mentioned again. I'm comfortable with taking Sabonis from that group. (Bonus points for the potential all-Lithuanian frontcourt with JV.)
As for the 27th pick, things get all kinds of hazy. Ford's choice is justifiable again, but this time for off-the-court reasons. Here's Ford on Guerschon Yabuesele:
Yabusele is built like a brick house. He's one of the strongest players in the draft, but he's also skilled. He moves well despite his size and has a shot that goes all the way out to the 3-point line. The Raptors love toughness and Yabusele brings that. And given the fact that this is the Raptors' second first-round pick, a draft-and-stash type player like Yabusele makes some sense.
Strong. Skilled. 3-point range. There's a lot to like here. But honestly, the most important thing is that the Raptors would not have to bring Yabusele to Toronto right away. The team already has four young players with values that are still up for debate (Powell, Wright, Nogueira and Caboclo -- though you have to figure Norm at least finds a spot in the rotation next year). So the option of being able to stash Yabuesele while the team figures out how to integrate one, two or possibly three of those names, plus whoever they get at no. 9, would be a nice deal.
What do you guys think? Ford may have gotten something right here.