Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
The NBA Draft Lottery took place last night and the Toronto Raptors were awarded the fourth overall selection.
Including 2021, the Raptors have held the fourth pick in just three out of the franchise’s 27 years in the draft. Since their inception in 1995, Toronto has picked in the top five on six occasions – 1996, 1998, 1999, 2006, 2011 and now, 2021.
When NBA teams prepare for a top five draft pick, they have to assume the player they select will be a major part of the organization’s future. The fourth overall pick has had its fair share of stars with the likes Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Dikembe Mutombo rounding out the best of them.
Here’s who the Raptors have selected with the fourth pick in years past:
1998: Antawn Jamison/Vince Carter
Photo Credit: Vince Carter’s Facebook Page
The 1998 NBA Draft will always be remembered by all Raptors fans as the year Vince Carter arrived in Toronto.
But Carter wasn’t initially picked by the Raptors, who held the fourth overall selection in the team’s fourth year in the league.
Toronto picked forward Antawn Jamison in the first round of the 1998 draft. The Raptors and then-general manager, Isiah Thomas, decided to trade Jamison for Carter, who had originally been selected by the Golden State Warriors with the fifth overall pick.
The trade panned out well for Toronto – Carter would eventually become one of the greatest Raptors and dunkers of all-time. He appeared in eight consecutive NBA All-Star games – five of which were when he was in Toronto – from 2000 to 2007, earning the 1998-99 Rookie of the Year award and notoriously winning the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest.
Jamison’s career turned out to be a little more modest, appearing in two All-Star games, winning the 2003-04 NBA Sixth Man of the Year and making the 1998-99 NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
2003: Chris Bosh
Photo Credit: Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images
The 2003 NBA Draft class was as good as it gets.
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade were all drafted together in this group of future All-Stars. Chris Bosh was also a part of this legendary class, drafted fourth overall by the Raptors in 2003.
Although he won’t be remembered in Toronto as much as legends like Carter or Kyle Lowry, Bosh did have a great rookie year in Toronto.
As the Raptors starting center, he averaged 11.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in his first year in Toronto. Bosh led all rookies in rebounds and blocks and set a franchise record for most rebounds by a rookie with 557 in 2003.
His efforts landed him on the 2003-04 NBA All-Rookie First Team.
Bosh would go on to play six more seasons with the Raptors before taking his talents to South Beach with some other notable members of the 2003 draft class – James and Wade – and going on to win two straight NBA championships in 2012 and 2013.
With any professional sports league draft, it’s hard to tell who will fall in a team’s lap after the first few picks.
Most basketball analysts have Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley and Jalen Green going in the first three picks just one month ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft, set for July 29.
That leaves Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs available at number four – the man who lifted the Bulldogs to the NCAA championship final after his overtime half-court buzzer-beater to defeat UCLA.
Even if Suggs is picked at three and Green is left when Toronto’s on the clock, the Raptors still have a high-quality scorer who can help rebuild this team to what it once was just two seasons ago.
Will Toronto take the best player available or look to fill in a gap they found during the 2020-21 season? We’ll find out on draft night.