Welcome to the Monthly Mailbag! Each month a Raptors HQ staff writer will answer YOUR Raptors related questions in a fun mailbag article. Make sure to submit your questions on twitter or Instagram!
This month, incoming Editor-in-Chief Chelsea Leite will be answering. The questions are all things coaching search, free agency and the upcoming NBA Draft. Check it out, and see you next month!
Would Steve Nash be a good head coach?
Yes and no. His tenure in Brooklyn was rocky, but I’m not entirely sure that’s his fault. He was dealing with three superstars who had big talent, but even bigger personalities. Would I entrust that super team with a first time head coach? Probably not. I’m sure his basketball IQ is high, and former players often make great coaches because they can empathize with the experiences of their players.
My hesitation on saying he’s be a good fit for the Raptors comes entirely from his lack of head coaching experience. Two years with a failed Brooklyn Nets super team isn’t exactly what the Raptors need right now. If the franchise is heading into the direction of development, I’d much rather hire a guy who either has multiple years of experience head coaching OR has many years as an assistant, developing young talent. Think of the priorities the Raptors — develop Scottie Barnes is first and foremost. You absolutely need to hire someone who has experience developing young talent. Is Steve Nash that? I’m not sure.
Would it be fun to see him on the staff in another role? I think so. It’s always fun to have Canadians on the staff and on the team.
Who are the top Head Coaching candidates?
There are a few people I like for the role. Monty Williams is up there, I like how he balanced developing young talent with continuing to succeed at a high level with his super star players. He seems smart and level headed, and from what we see on the outside, has a great relationship with players and other staff members. He seems wise enough to gain the respect of young players but not too old to be out of touch.
Adrian Griffin is another one — and I know Raptors fans may be hesitant. But Griffin knows the system, knows the current players, but would still be a little breath of fresh air. My main hesitation with Griffin is that I personally think we need a full coaching reset, and maybe hiring the Associate Head Coach isn’t exactly that.
Of course, I have a Becky Hammon delusional dream, but I have to at least mention that she would be in my top choices if there were any chance she’d take the job.
Who do you consider “the core” of this team?
This really depends on what the front office decides is the immediate future for this team. I think there are two ways of thinking about it:
- The Developmental Route: In this case, the core surrounds Scottie Barnes. You surround him with young and exciting players that will turn into Fred VanVleets and Pascal Siakams, while he turns into... Scottie Barnes. Scottie’s ceiling is so high, yet he still needs a bit of time to grow into that player. Maybe you keep a couple “vets” around him to help mentor him. You get a coaching staff who puts a strong emphasis on development and you see what happens in 2-3 years.
- The Contender Route: In this case, you’re trying to make the playoffs and make a run. Miami Heat 2023 vibes. In this scenario, the core is around Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes. Keep/let go whoever else you want, but make sure you have a) a strong center and b) SHOOTERS around them. In this scenario you can compete for a playoff spot, while also developing Scottie Barnes.
It just depends what your vision is for this team. More importantly, what the front office’s vision is.
Who if the draft target with the 13th overall pick?
As we all learned with the no.4 draft pick, it’s hard to predict who the Raptors will draft at the 13th spot. All we can do is speculate, but here are some of the mock draft’s opinions:
ESPN says Jordan Hawkins is the 13th pick. Hawkins played at UConn, winning a national championship. He’s a 6’4 shooting guard — which the Raptors desperately need. He had a superb showing in the NCAA tournament, scoring 44 points in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight for UConn. He is predicted to transition easily into the NBA, with “exceptional footwork” and high basketball IQ.
NBA Draft Room is predicting Hawkins goes earlier, and therefore the Raptors will choose Cason Wallace at 13. Wallace is a 6’3 point guard from the University of Kentucky. He apparently is one of the best defensive prospects in the draft, but can also shoot. Sounds like a pretty good fit for the Raptors system, unless the new head coach has entirely different plans (which I doubt).
NBC predicts the Raptors will pick Keyonte George out of Baylor. He’s a 6’4 shooting guard who apparently is speedy in transition and can make a shot. He is also said to be a good passer and has potential as a playmaker.
The Raptors need depth at the Point Guard position, BUT also have Siakam (as of right now) and Barnes who can faciliate. So do the Raptors go with a pure point guard or someone who is also comfortable off-ball? Curious to see who you would pick at 13 — drop a comment or tweet us @RaptorsHQ and let us know!
Should the Raptors trade up in the draft?
This one goes back to the Raptors front office vision from a previous question. It’s really simple — if the Raptors are going to prioritize development, then yes, trade for the third overall pick. If they want to shift the current core slightly, take the 13th pick and try to make a run for it, then don’t trade up.
From what I know about the current front office, I don’t think they will trade up, personally. I think it would cost too much and they won’t want to pay that kind of price. Personally, I see the pros and cons either way. It’s a strong draft class, so that pick would be fantastic for the future of the franchise — but also, Kobe Bryant was picked 13th. Devin Booker was picked 13th. You see where this is going? I would be open to the trade if it was the right trade.
That’s it for this month’s Mailbag! Thanks for submitting questions, make sure to submit more for next month on twitter or Instagram.