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NBA Draft 2017: ESPN mock drafts two different players for the Raptors

In just a weekend, the Raptors went on a real emotional journey of fake futures with Chad Ford.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Stanford John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft is a relentless time if you’re a mock drafter. Chad Ford of ESPN holds one such position (for now), and his output, with the actual NBA draft this Thursday, has become increasingly frenzied. The Raptors still sit at number 23 in the draft, having made no blockbuster deals for the number one pick or Paul George. As such, Ford has been busy the last few days, dropping mock drafts all over the place, and keeping the Toronto situation in the frame. The results were.... eyebrow raising.

First, from the weekend, Ford implied the following:

23. Toronto Raptors (via Clippers)

Andzejs Pasecniks, Latvia

Age: 21


Pasecniks created some buzz with a strong workout in L.A. late last week. He’s an athletic big man who can play both the 4 and the 5. While some teams look at him as a draft-and-stash option, he has enough talent to come play now.

The optics on this don’t look great. It’s lazy to compare Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl and Pasecniks because they are all 7-footers from Europe but, also, they are all 7-footers from Europe. How many of them do the Raptors need? At what point does the overlap get to be a bit much? Given the Raptors have gone down this route a few times in their history, and it has worked approximately 1.5 times out of what feels like one million, I’m not exactly pulling for this selection.

Setting aside all of that, this is where we can point to the backwardness of the entire NBA off-season and cast some blame. The Raptors have no need for a centre right now — with three on the roster, plus Serge Ibaka — but could soon require one depending on what happens with Ibaka (and Valanciunas, by extension). The draft-and-stash idea is something cute to consider here, but again, Toronto may need production right away. My humble opinion suggests they have a greater need at the wing.

Still, if Masai is looking at Andezjs like a future Kristaps Porzingis (his pal from the U18 Euro Championships), maybe we’re on to something here. In truth, Draft Express has him at number 21 in their top 100 prospects, and going to the Raptors at 23 in their mock draft. That suggests Pasecniks has some skills, but I just don’t know.

Of course, this morning Ford went in again with another mock draft. This time going even further afield:

23. Toronto Raptors (via Clippers)

Jonah Bolden, Australia

Age: 21


Bolden left UCLA after his freshman season and had a successful stint in Serbia. He’s an athletic versatile forward who can shoot and pass the ball. He has become quite the sleeper among NBA scouts and Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has a penchant for finding and drafting similar players.

Now, Draft Express has Bolden ranked at 44 in their top 100 prospects, and at 36 in their latest mock draft. This suggests something of a reach on the part of the Raptors. Ford is right to point out that the mid-20s reach has been something of a speciality of Ujiri as of late — take a bow Bruno, Delon, and Pascal — but could he go four-in-a-row? The mind boggles.

Reminder once again: the NBA Draft is this Thursday, so everything shall be revealed. And all these mock drafts and rankings will prove to be incorrect. The only thing we know for sure: Masai keeps them guessing.

Why do you guys think of the latest draft ideas for Toronto?