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Draft Watch: Who is Toronto looking at in the second round?

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With two picks in the second round, the Raptors have to do their due diligence to re-stock their main (and G League) roster. Who is on the team’s radar with upside?

Utah State v Florida Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

With two consecutive picks in the second round at 46 and 47, the Toronto Raptors have options. They can pick up older prospects who could potentially help right away or invest in a player in need of longer-term developmental attention. We’ll look at the latter this time — young prospects who track as projects.

Due to the Raptors’ success over the past near-decade, Toronto hasn’t quite had the luxury of drafting highly touted young players. (Though that’s set to change this year.) As a result, the front office has relied on targeting overlooked or undrafted prospects. They’ve also tried their luck with the “second draft” bargain bin, but that formula hasn’t quite found success. These are second- or third-year NBA players who were highly touted from high school or college but haven’t panned out in the league. In all, Fred VanVleet stands as the great success story of Toronto’s under-the-radar drafting and development system — and the search is always on to find that kind of player again.

Instead of waiting for other teams to bungle other players’ development, the Raptors are in a position to pick these prospects up directly in the Draft. For today’s review, we’re looking at Isaiah Todd, Daishen Nix, and Scottie Lewis, who were all top 20 players in their high school class, and still young, which means there’s still a lot of room to grow.

Isaiah Todd

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6’8.75” w/o shoes
  • Wingspan: 7’1.25”
  • Team: G League Ignite
  • G League Stats: 12.3 PTS (43.7% FG%), 36.2% 3P%, 4.9 REB, 0.8 AST, 0.7 BLK, 1.5 TO

Why Isaiah?

Typically, the players the Raptors have taken in the second round have been seniors with perhaps minimal upside or significant flaws in their game. It’s rare to find someone with a high upside at this range, especially someone with layers yet to be unlocked because of their age. Picking Isaiah Todd at this range could be a boon for the Raptors.

Admittedly, Todd will come in as a project, one that could take two to three years to get to an NBA level. That said, he doesn’t turn 20 until later this year, and he’s still growing into his body. What’s more, Todd has a modern game for a forward — he’s basically a spot-up shooting guard trapped in a big man’s body. Given Todd’s perimeter shooting, quickness, and athleticism, he could fit with the Raptors’ need for lengthy defenders and potentially develop into an excellent 3-and-D-type player, if not more.

Isaiah Todd & Pascal Siakam’s Combine Comparison

Player Height w/o Shoes Wingspan Weight
Player Height w/o Shoes Wingspan Weight
Pascal Siakam 6'8.25" 7'3.25" 226.6lbs
Isaiah Todd 6'8.75" 7'1.25" 219lbs

Todd’s measurements are close to Pascal Siakam’s, so imagine someone of that size, with similar quickness, hunting for shots around the perimeter. Todd’s release point and his relative quickness to get to the peak of his shot make it a hard shot to block. Even at this point, he doesn’t have any hesitation pulling up behind the arc, whether he’s stationary or via catch-and-shoot on the move.

Can Todd develop a face-up game? There’s a good chance, given his physical tools and age, if he ends up with the right team.

Areas of Concern

For someone as athletic as Todd, it’s a little bit concerning how subpar his moves around the basket are when defended. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of finishing moves or the strength to bully past defenders, but it’s a little bit disappointing to see him looking like a below-the-rim finisher at times, despite a decent 35.5” max vertical. That’s a stark contrast to most players similar to his size and athleticism, who leverage their athleticism first and worry about the finishing later.

Todd seems to be allergic to contact at times, though perhaps he was not quite ready (yet) for the more physical game at the G League level. He was listed at 210 pounds when they launched the Ignite team, but perhaps that scale was measured after a trip to an AYCE buffet. Todd’s lack of rebounding numbers, low free throw rate, and shot selection favouring moving away from contact are problematic when taken all together. There’s a place for shooting big men, of course, but some of this explains why Todd is seen as a late second-rounder.

Raptors Fit

If the Raptors decide to keep their window of contention open next season, there’s a chance they might end up trading their first-round pick next season, which would (optimistically) be late in the first round. With two picks in the second round this year, the Raptors need to use at least one to shore up their roster and reserves.

For Todd, who would presumably head straight to the Raptors 905, another year of seasoning in the G League, hopefully as a #2 option on the team, should help accelerate his development. We all saw what the Raptors did to Chris Boucher when he got unleashed a few years ago.

If Todd develops well enough under the Raptors’ system, he can be an excellent piece off the bench for Toronto. He’s great in transition, and if he can get started as a decent 3+D option, he’ll give Nurse further lineup flexibility. The ultimate goal here could be a big “small ball” lineup, with the Raptors just a couple of pieces removed from having that option. Imagine the Raptors’ point guards flanked by four 6’8”-6’10” versatile 3+D defenders. It could happen.

Daishen Nix

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6’3” w/o shoes
  • Wingspan: 6’6.75”
  • Team: G League Ignite
  • G League Stats: 8.8 PTS (38.4% FG%), 17.6% 3P% (OUCH!), 5.3 REB, 5.3 AST, 1 STL, 2.9 TOV

Why Daishen?

Nix is arguably a top-5 point guard in this draft class — yes, it’s true — and if not for his so-so G League campaign and weight/conditioning issues, he might have been a mid-1st round pick.

Nix comes from the mould of Mark Jackson and Andre Miller. These players are tall for their position but maybe lack the athleticism and explosiveness to take advantage of their height mismatch. However, Nix — like Jackson and Miller — is an excellent ball mover and competent floor general.

By picking Nix, the Raptors would be counting on his offense to get better (from three, from the mid-range, and at the rim) as his NBA-level court vision and playmaking skills will tighten up and mature eventually.

As a point guard, Nix operates at his own pace and has a solid ability to map out the court and find his teammates. In essence, Toronto wouldn’t need a convoluted play to get a shot with an offense run by Nix, as a simple pick-and-roll action generates good looks overall. If he’s paired with players that can space and cut to the basket, he’s fun to watch.

Areas of Concern

I was surprised to see Nix look bigger (not in a good way) when he debuted for the G League Ignite team. I’m not sure if he really bulked up, or it was a pandemic weight gain like all of us, but it was a literal dead weight that seemed to hamper his conditioning and pull down his ability to finish around the basket.

Nix looked much leaner during the Combine, and while his passing (and to some extent, his turnovers) were as advertised, it’s a little concerning that he failed to score in two scrimmages.

Aside from that, Nix has a long way to go defensively based on his G League campaign. As the on-ball defender, he struggled to stay in front of his man. He doesn’t rotate well on switches and scrambles, though I’m not sure if this is because of miscommunication, effort, or overall conditioning issues. Still, he seems like a player who could learn a defensive system in time.

Raptors Fit

If the Raptors don’t end up with Jalen Suggs, they could look to invest elsewhere in their point guard pipeline. They need someone to run the point for the Raptors 905, and Nix might be best developing in the background rather than sitting on the bench. The Raptors have a track record of developing and harnessing the best of unathletic point guards (see: Fred VanVleet). If Nix gets into NBA shape and buys in on the Raptors’ defensive philosophy, he’s just a perimeter shot away from being a steal in the Draft.

Nix would be a nice project for the Raptors, as he’s got the talent and perhaps a chip on his shoulder. While I’ve discussed his shape, he did come back leaner and even posted a 36.5” max vertical during the Combine. Nix also looked good during the drills at the Combine, so he knows his weaknesses. It’s possible the Raptors could give him the runway to develop into a stud.

Scottie Lewis

  • Age: 21
  • Height: 6’4” w/o shoes
  • Wingspan: 7’0”
  • Team: Florida Gators (Sophomore)
  • College Stats: Sophomore Stats - 7.9 PTS (44.5% FG%), 31.8% 3P%, 3.1 REB, 1.5 AST, 1.6 STL, 1 BLK, 1.9 TO

Why Scottie?

There aren’t that many players in this draft class about which you could say, “this guy is an Agent of Chaos.” Scottie Lewis is one of them, and his defensive impact on the floor, whether as an on-ball defender, help defender or playing in the passing lanes, can create havoc on opposing teams’ offense.

Lewis’ motor, effort, activity, and improving ability to read plays unfolding on the defensive end make him an ideal prospect for a team like the Raptors, who prefers to have defensive competence at every position on the floor. He’s got active hands and quick feet and leverages his physicality and athleticism to impede an offensive player from getting a shot off.

That being said, Lewis has yet to put things together offensively. He has shown plenty of flashes that might make a scout think he can do more. He’s had a limited role this past season in Florida, so his chance to shine in games was inconsistent as well.

Areas of Concern

Heading into his freshman year, Lewis was supposed to be a one-and-done prospect. He was supposed to post decent to above-average numbers, just enough to maintain his draft stock. However, a subpar freshman year and the pandemic derailed Lewis’ plans, and he decided to return for his sophomore season.

Unfortunately, Lewis followed that up with a disappointing sophomore campaign. He took a step back statistically, lost his starting spot, and lost his role in the offense as he was bumped down the scoring pecking order. Lewis did have a strong finish to his freshman campaign and a solid start to his sophomore season, so there’s still some reason to be optimistic. But the instability of the pandemic season seems to have prevented him from keeping his momentum going.

Scottie Lewis’ Sophomore Year

Period Total Points Points Per Game 3PA/M 3P%
Period Total Points Points Per Game 3PA/M 3P%
First 6 Games 84 14 7/15 46.70%
Rest (15 Games) 81 5.4 7/29 24.10%
Breakdown of Scottie Lewis’ strong start vs sophomore slump

Lewis’ shooting was streaky at best, but it should be an easier fix than all of his other issues. His shooting form is good, but his mechanics need to be tweaked a bit. For example, the timing of Lewis’ release point on his jumpers is inconsistent. Often, he’ll have the “hangtime release point”, where he’s pretty much shooting it on his way down. It’s a good thing that the Raptors have experience fixing this problem thanks to Norman Powell.

Lewis can be erratic and turnover-prone. His lack of true shot creation ability stems from his lack of handles and strength to absorb contact. If he’s well defended, Lewis can be all over the place — which is not where he or his team want him to be. At best, any shot at the rim by Lewis in this scenario would be low percentage where he hopes to leverage his athleticism to bail him out. Lewis can get stronger, and he’s shown that he can be much more physical as a defender. Still, his handle has to get tighter if he’s got aspirations to do much more than a spot-up shooter or an opportunistic baseline-cutter behind the defense.

Raptors Fit

The Raptors love defensive players and are much more open to taking a gamble on a prospect with a good defensive base and then worry about their offense later. Lewis is a dog defensively, and he’s already good despite playing off instinct and relying more on his physical tools for the most part. There’s ability there worth taking a chance on.

Lewis would have to be a decent floor spacer for him to crack Toronto’s rotation though. If he does, he gives the Raptors size and athleticism at the shooting guard position (compared to their two-point-guard lineups). In this scenario, he’d fill the OG Anunoby usage role in which he’s only expected to shoot open perimeter shots, be a play finisher on cuts, and get into the action in transition.

Since it’s no secret the Raptors’ guards often get caught manning the paint due to the team’s aggressive defensive schemes. As a result, the team took a hit on the boards due to their lack of size overall. That won’t necessarily be the case with Lewis, as he’s a good rebounder for a guard. He’s got a solid motor, athleticism, a quick second jump, and the ability to get the team’s transition run started. Again, not a bad spot for a rookie second-round pick to find himself in.

Despite the concerns, Lewis could fit right in should the Raptors lean back into the old Kyle Lowry plus the bench lineups that put on a lot of pressure defensively and attacked in transition. Lewis’ defense is ahead of his offense, but I believe he can do more than spot-up and wait for a kick-out. Does he have a higher ceiling? I think Lewis could be that type of player, Toronto’s latest diamond in the rough.