While the Raptors have added two new players to the team in Malachi Flynn and Jalen Harris, their work through the NBA Draft isn’t quite over yet. As is the case every year, Toronto will now look over the undrafted player market to see who else may be available. Keep in mind also: they’ll be able to fill out their roster with up 20 players in total (some on short term Exhibit 10 deals) as they head into their training camp. Expect to see a bunch of names and signings come up in the next few days — beyond just news about, say, Fred VanVleet.
Now, the Raptors have been working at a bit of a disadvantage after the NBA Draft ended. It’s definitely likely that teams began calling prospects by mid-second round if it was thought they’d go undrafted. The teams would want to get a jump on offering two-way contracts. Unfortunately for the Raptors, they haven’t sorted out their two-way contract situation as of yet. We know Paul Watson occupies one spot — and the team wants to keep it that way — but the Raptors don’t necessarily know about Oshae Brissett yet. As reported yesterday, Toronto has tossed out their Qualifying Offer to Brissett, making him a restricted free agent (along with Chris Boucher and, yes, Nando De Colo).
This situation perhaps prevented them from offering guaranteed two-way roster spots to the top undrafted prospects like Killian Tillie, Nate Hinton, Nate Darling, etc.
In any case, here’s the best of the rest, four players the Raptors could look to sign into their second two-way slot or bring into training camp.
Paul Eboua, 6’8” PF, VL Peraso
Paul Eboua is only 20 years old and his game is very raw at this point. That said, there’s enough there for him to be an energy player/rim runner thanks to his excellent physique and athleticism. He could be worth a look by the Raptors, to see if they can expand his game a little bit more.
In this, Ebuoa will need at least a couple of years of skills development to get him a passable NBA offensive game outside of catching lobs or passes off rolls to the basket. At the same time, he doesn’t seem to be tied to any European teams right now, so he should be available for this season as a potential two-way roster player — or G Leaguer for the 905 (assuming there is a G League at this point).
Karim Mane, 6’6” SG, Vanier College (Canada)
The Raptors interviewed Karim Mane during the draft process, so there could already be longer-term interest there. Still, Mane is something of an unknown — unless you were watching a lot of Canadian collegiate basketball over the past year. Right now, we can only see the limited highlights available online.
From that, Mane seems to be a very fluid athlete with decent size to fil a potential combo guard spot. As with every other player in this group, he’s a long-term project (he’s still only 20 years old), and with Toronto’s depth at the guard spot right now, it’s unlikely he’d get much of a chance with the main club. Meanwhile, Mane’s agent is also exploring opportunities in Europe, so maybe he’s already out the door.
Mamadi Diakite, 6’10” PF/C, Virginia
Diakite is one of the best defensive anchors in this draft class and the best among the undrafted prospects. So how did he go undrafted? The answer could unfortunately be quite simple: he’s old. Diakite will be turning 24 years old in January, a turn-off for most teams in the draft — but that could be music to the Raptors’ ears.
Diakite is not just a long shot blocker. His high defensive IQ is complemented by solid footwork and quick hops. There’s some similarity to Chris Boucher in that aspect, but Diakite is a better defender on the block, thanks to his positioning ability and bulk (compared to Boucher, anyway). Offensively, he’s much more capable getting his shot off in traffic without looking like a twig that’s about to snap. Diakite’s shot mechanics, post-game, and midrange/face-up play looks more polished than what Boucher has shown so far. That said, he’s not as fast as Boucher in identifying rotations around the perimeter, and not as great at closing out on the shooters. We’d have to see how any of this would translate to the NBA — and if there’s any room for Diakite to improve.
Kaleb Wesson, 6’9” PF/C, Ohio State
Kaleb Wesson would be an interesting big man project for a couple of reasons: his perimeter shooting and passing. Wesson is shot-ready whenever he’s around the perimeter, and it’s evident with his 42.5 percent shooting behind the arc. He’s a smart player who sees the floor well, and is already able to make nice short or cross-court passes to open teammates.
Wesson is physical down low, but not a mere bully. Instead, he’s someone capable of absorbing contact and still getting his shot off. In this though, he’s a below-the-rim player and often flat-footed with his shots in the paint. That lack of juice around the rim makes him susceptible to getting blocked — which is of obvious concern even before considering him in the NBA. Still, Wesson is a decent defender, and while he used to be an immovable object in the paint, he has since dropped some weight. In that sense, perhaps we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of what Kaleb Wesson 2.0 can do as he continues to work on getting into optimal shape.
Kahlil Whitney, 6’6” SF, Kentucky
Being in Kentucky as one of the country’s top high school prospects does not guarantee success — and Kahlil Whitney is proof of that. Things did not go well for him in college, as he was unable to secure playing time at the wing and now has a much lower NBA ceiling as a result.
Still, Whitney is young — he turns 20 years old in January. With his physical profile, above the rim athleticism, motor, and a growing offensive skill set, he could be a good long-term project for a team with a good development system. Whitney’s overall game needs work, but mentally is where he’ll need an overhaul, as I think he was broken by the few months he spent in Kentucky. In this, the Raptors are not new to taking chances on top high school prospects who had their draft stock plunge, e.g. Dewan Hernandez was a five-star recruit and a top 30 prospect in the nation a few years ago. It’s remains within the realm of possibility that Toronto could see Whitney the same way.