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The Toronto Raptors 2021 NBA Draft Day Primer

Raptors fans are on the edge of their seats as Toronto prepares to make some huge NBA Draft decisions. It’s time for one last cram session to decide what the franchise could do.

2020 NBA Draft Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

We’re hours away from the 2021 NBA Draft, which kicks off tonight at 8 pm EST. As we’ve been trumpeting for the past month, the Toronto Raptors will be on the clock to select 4th, 46th, and 47th. Despite their top-five pick for the first time since 2011, the Raptors will very much be at the mercy of the three teams ahead of them — and eyeing Jalen Suggs as the consensus fourth-best prospect.

Naturally, there’s some drama involving the teams ahead of the Raptors — the Cavaliers and Rockets — and the star big man in this year’s draft class, Evan Mobley. So maybe there’s a chance for something wild to happen. It also looks like Cleveland could be trying to unload Colin Sexton, so who knows. Keep the latter sentiment in mind as we carry on into the evening.

As of this writing, we’re only aware of Scottie Barnes, Jonathan Kuminga, and Keon Johnson as the lottery prospects who officially worked out for the Raptors. Suggs and Evan Mobley have both been mum on who they worked out for, but they did say who they didn’t work out for (Houston Rockets). Meanwhile, Mobley’s brother appears to have had a private workout with the Raptors — and it was the same day Johnny Juzang was in Tampa? That would have been a nice two-on-two workout between the Mobleys, Juzang, and Suggs!

Could the Earl Watson Jr. hiring indicate the direction that the Raptors will go for the fourth pick?

Meanwhile, Raptors GM Bobby Webster is being cryptic as usual:

Now, we don’t know exactly which direction the Raptors will go with the fourth pick (should the Raptors trade up to #3 to get Mobley?), or with their team construction in general. Our buddy Connor McCreery got us thinking about how this Draft could change the Raptors’ future. Barring any huge draft-day trades, below are the potential options at the fourth spot, as we went over them these past few weeks:

Jalen Green, SG

It was a pipe-dream for my Filipino propaganda, as it looks like he’s Houston-bound.

Evan Mobley, PF/C

Mobley fits the need for the Raptors and is leaps and bounds best player available should he drop to 4th.

Jalen Suggs, PG

Toronto shouldn’t overthink it if he’s the best player available.

Scottie Barnes, SF/PF

There’s a part of me that’s really curious to see what the Raptors could do with him.

Jonathan Kuminga, SG/SF

It’s a wing-driven league right now, and the Raptors need high-level talent at this position. He’s the biggest enigma of this draft.

Should the Raptors move down or acquire additional lottery picks, some names I really like mid-to-late in the lottery are Josh Giddey, James Bouknight, Keon Johnson, and Jalen Johnson. I focused on these prospects pre-lottery, as they were originally in the Raptors’ pick-range (before they leapt into the fourth spot).

2nd Round Prospects

We cast a wide net for second round prospects, as the range can go from late first, all the way to being undrafted for some. Here are some of the potential selections we covered, as best guesses for the Raptors:

Isaiah Todd, PF

Projected Range: Late 1st to Mid 2nd round

Todd is a modern NBA big, but watching his G League games made me think a bit of Channing Frye as a player comparison. He’s gone up on most boards, though, and will most likely be gone by the time the Raptors get their turn in the second round.

Vrenz Bleijenbergh, SG/SF

Projected Range: Mid to late 2nd round

Bleijenbergh is a unicorn hiding in the second round, though it looks like teams are starting to take notice. He was projected to go undrafted over a month ago and now could get picked in the mid-second round range. He’s a 6’10” wing who can play the point, score on the perimeter, or get to the basket. Oh yeah, and Bleijenbergh worked out for the Raptors.

Sandro Mamukelashvili, PF/C

Projected Range: Late 2nd to Undrafted

Mamu is a skilled big that has a polished offensive game. Toronto is a perfect fit for him, and he could be an excellent long-term backup centre for the Raptors.

Aaron Wiggins, SG

Projected Range: Mid 2nd round to Undrafted

Wiggins is a 3+D guard with a smooth stroke. In that role, there’s a place for him in Toronto. He worked out for the Raptors and confirmed that he’s staying in the draft after his workout.

EJ Onu, C

Projected Range: Late 2nd to Undrafted

Onu is a legit big with a wingspan that can go for miles (or kilometres!). He’s a vertical threat but also has considerable upside with a chance to become more than a mere alley-oop target.

Joe Wieskamp, SF

Projected Range: Early to Mid 2nd round

Wieskamp is a lights-out shooter, clearing at least 46 percent from behind the arc. He‘s also taller than Matt Thomas, which could help. Worth noting again: Wieskamp worked out for the Raptors.

Amar Sylla, PF/C

Projected Range: Late 2nd to Undrafted

Sylla is projected to go undrafted for the most part — except in the mock drafts that have the Raptors using one of their second round picks to grab him.

Jericho Sims, PF/C

Projected Range: Late 2nd round

Sims is an athletic freak who could be an excellent backup big for the Raptors. If he can develop some semblance of offense outside of dunks and putbacks, there’s a ceiling that could be unlocked there.

Herb Jones, SF

Projected Range: Early to Mid 2nd round

Jones is a multi-positional defender, but we can’t call him a 3-and-D player as of yet. He can do a decent amount offensively — but he hasn’t shown he can shoot the three yet, so there’s that.

Neemias Queta, C

Projected Range: Late 2nd round

Queta is an old-school big who prefers to roam the paint on both sides of the floor. He’s essentially a rim protector and a low post presence right now, but he would fill a need for the Raptors. Queta also worked out for the Raptors.

Juhann Begarin, SG

Projected Range: Late 2nd round

Begarin is an upside pick that could be a steal late in the 2nd round. However, he’s also likely two years away...

Two-Way/Undrafted Targets

Some of the prospects we profiled earlier were mid-to-late second round prospects, but their stocks have dropped to the point that they’re likely to go undrafted. It doesn’t mean these players are not good, but they do have flaws or issues that affected their pre-NBA campaign. These could be quick-turnaround projects for the Raptors though. Here are some names to watch out for:

Daishen Nix, PG

Nix had a poor G League campaign, but he’s one of the best pure point guards in the draft. Ironically, his best game came at the expense of the Raptors 905. He’ll need to play in the G League (again!), but the Raptors also need a point guard to run the next iteration of 905. We profiled him along with Todd a few weeks ago.

Scottie Lewis, G

Lewis was a potential lottery talent that did not have the collegiate career that most top-tier talent should have. However, he’s an agent of chaos and could fit the Raptors’ defense schemes like a glove. He also worked out for the Raptors.

Olivier Sarr, PF/C

Sarr is one of the most well-rounded big projected to go undrafted, but decision-making is something that held his career back. The Raptors have a history of fixing decision-making issues by keeping it simple for players like Serge Ibaka and Chris Boucher, so maybe there’s hope here.

Santi Aldama, C

Aldama is a fundamentally sound big who’s got spot-up shooting guard skills. He can be a good change-up big man off the bench for Toronto.

Javonte Smart, PG

Apparently, he destroyed the Raptors workout.

Dalano Banton, PG

Banton is a tall point-forward that needs to develop a consistent offense to unlock his playmaking gifts. Also, hey, Canadian content!

Mac McClung, PG

McClung is an athletic guard that could be an interesting Raptors 905 development prospect. Behind the IG highlight reels, McClung has a hard-working attitude that will do a lot of small things to impact winning. Of course, he’ll need seasoning to work on his shooting and point guard play, but the prospect of seeing him dunk on dudes is enticing.

AJ Lawson, SG

More CanCon, sure, but Lawson parlayed a strong G League Elite camp into an NBA Draft Combine invite. His perimeter shot doesn’t look smooth, but it’s consistent. He’s also really athletic.

Workout Log

The Raptors also worked out the players below, most likely looking at them as options for the 905:

  • Matt Mitchell, SF (Senior - San Diego State - Ht: 6’6”)
  • Alan Griffin, SG/SF (Junior - Syracuse - Ht: 6’5”)
  • Jalen Crutcher, PG (Senior - Dayton - Ht: 6’1”)
  • Marcus Zegarowski, PG (Junior - Creighton - Ht: 6’2”)
  • Balsa Koprivica, C (Sophomore - Florida State - Ht: 7’1”)
  • DeJon Jarreau, PG (Senior - Houston - Ht: 6’5”)
  • JaQuori McLaughlin, PG (Senior - UC Santa Barbara - Ht: 6’4”)
  • Jose Alvarado, PG (Senior - Georgia Tech - Ht: 6’)
  • McKinley Wright IV, PG (Senior - Colorado - Ht: 6’)
  • Eugene Omoruyi, SF/PF (Senior - Oregon - Ht: 6’7”)
  • Trendon Watford, PF (Sophomore - LSU - Ht: 6’9”)