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With an important offseason looming, the Toronto Raptors are hoping luck is on their side when the 2021 NBA Draft lottery is decided tonight. After missing out on the playoffs this year, the Raptors and 13 other teams are hoping to land the number one overall pick and a chance to select Cade Cunningham.
The Raptors have not had a lottery selection in five years, having selected Jakob Poeltl ninth overall in 2016. Fred VanVleet will hope to bring good fortune to his team tonight as it was announced yesterday that he would represent the Raptors at the virtual lottery.
Toronto will enter tonight with the seventh best odds at the top selection and are virtually guaranteed a pick inside the top ten. Under the lottery rules adopted in 2019, the Raptors will have a 7.5 percent chance at the top pick, and a slightly greater chance at obtaining the second, third and fourth overall selections. In other words, the Raptors have a 31.9 percent chance of jumping up from the seventh spot to a pick inside the top four.
However, the most likely scenario for Toronto (>65 percent) would be for them to remain in the seventh spot or drop down to the eight pick. With a talented crop of prospects at the top end of this draft and depth throughout, the Raptors will still have a variety of gifted players to choose from even if their pick is in the bottom half of the top ten.
Assuming Evan Mobley, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs are selected after Cunningham (in no order), which seems to be the wide consensus, here are a few prospects the Raptors could have their eyes on with their first round selection.
Jonathan Kuminga (SF, G League Ignite)
“It’s either going to be the most talented player available or it’s going to be the best fit for us.”Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors President via SI
While that question looms heavy over the Raptors draft strategy, Kuminga would be a no-brainer pick if he falls to them at the mid-to-late end of the top ten.
Kuminga’s stock has rose in recent months and he has been mocked as high as fourth overall mainly due to his freakish athleticism. The six-foot-six, 220 pound 18 year-old forward played this past year professionally in the G League, averaging nearly 16 points and seven rebounds per game.
While scouts view some aspects of his game as raw at the moment, Kuminga proved his talent this past year on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, and has immense potential for growth.
His measurements and skillset displayed this year make him an obvious selection if the Raptors choose to select the best available player at the draft next month.
Keon Johnson (G, Tennessee)
While the Raptors certainly don’t have a need at guard, Keon Johnson has been widely connected to them throughout the past month. Toronto used both of their draft picks on guards last year and already have Fred VanVleet locked up to a four-year contract.
This would once again be a pick at the best player available as Johnson appears to be a great balance of athleticism and potential. As a freshmen, Johnson was a productive scorer for Tennessee in the SEC. He averaged 11.3 points per game as one of the younger players in this draft class (19).
While struggling with his three point shot and needing some development given his youth, Johnson has all the tools to become a future starter in the league.
The future of both Kyle Lowry and Gary Trent Jr. with Toronto remains anyone’s guess. However, if the Raptors were to lose one or both of those pieces, a selection such as Keon Johnson or Kuminga would make more sense.
Alperen Sengun (C, Turkey)
If Ujiri and the Raptors decide to draft for need, don’t be surprised if they go international. Sengun dominated with Besiktas in Turkey’s top-flight league. He averaged over 19 points and nine rebounds per game while making over 64 percent of his shots this past year.
At six-foot-10, 243 pounds, Sengun’s size would provide the Raptors with a much needed big man. His stock has also been on the rise in recent months, with many viewing Sengun as a player with proven productivity and a tremendous upside at only 18 years old.
While the reviews on him are mixed, Sengun has been a dominant offensive player, at a very young age, in a top league. While being selected as high as seven may surprise some, Sengun has shown his skill overseas and is ready to surprise more.
Centre Kai Jones out of Texas may be another name that Toronto could target if they are to draft according to need. Given that the draft features several other top-end guards and wings, the Raptors could also be a team that attempts to trade out of their selection.
Toronto will hope for some luck as they try to obtain the number one overall pick for the second time in franchise history. The draft lottery can be seen at 8:30 PM EST tonight on Sportsnet.