No one can predict what Masai Ujiri and the Raptors will do in the NBA Draft, let alone the other 29 teams. With the league beholden to at least a few legitimate mad men, there’s no way to determine what exactly will happen with Toronto’s 23rd pick. There are just too many variables.
And yet, every year like clockwork, many do try to make predictions anyway. Here are some of the experts on the Raptors’ 23rd pick in the draft. Who will the team take? As the famous screenwriter William Goldman once said: nobody knows anything.
First, let’s set the tone with our control group at Draft Express. This site’s been my main resource for prospect research, so I’ve come to rely on their takes above all. And right now, their take is:
Next, we check in again with ESPN’s Chad Ford, who has the Raptors staying firm at 23 with the pick we recorded on Monday:
ESPN: Jonah Bolden
The crew at CBS Sports, Reid Forgrave and Gary Parrish, have two different thoughts on who the Raptors will take, though we do come away with our first small bit of consensus overall.
The official sounding NBADraft.net says the Raptors will take:
The hive at Basketball Insiders comes in with a name we’ve heard before:
Meanwhile, Sports illustrated goes a different way again:
And finally, over at FOX Sports, Andre Lynch finds one final bit of continuity.
So where does that leave us?
We’ve got six different names, and the only player to appear more than once is Syracuse’s Lydon. For some sense, we go back to the control group. Lydon is ranked by DX as the 22nd best prospect in the draft. He’s 6’10’’ and 225 pounds, and down for the SF/PF position. He’s also a sophomore coming out of Syracuse, a noteworthy program. Is he Toronto’s man?
As has been the case this entire pre-draft season, Lydon tracks as a hybrid wing/forward who can move and shoot the 3. Whether his skills in that area translate to the NBA game remains to be seen. Still, you can see Ujiri’s thinking here. The Raptors have a need for shooting, and while I would put their need at wing (so, a 6’7-6’8’’ player) as greater than in the forward spot, they could likely need help there too (assuming Patrick Patterson, Serge Ibaka, and P.J. Tucker are all gone). And since the Raptors will presumably look to re-sign Kyle Lowry and keep going as an upper-mid-tier team, it makes sense to sign a player who could contribute right away, rather than a serious development project. Lydon does not strike me as a force of nature pick, but he might be a solid rotation player for Toronto — and at no. 23, that’s often the best type of player to expect.
Of course, it remains to be seen if Lydon will still be available at 23. Or if the Raptors will even take him at 23.
Like I said, there are a lot of variables.