The Raptors Insider NBA Draft Primer

Photo Credit: NBA Canada

The 2021 NBA Draft is upon us.

Owners of the fourth overall pick, the Toronto Raptors are in the best position they’ve been in since they picked Andrea Bargnani with the top pick in 2006. With some top-end talent in the lottery, fans are salivating at the thought of adding a future star to a team only two years removed from a NBA championship.

As the hype builds towards the number one overall selection to be announced tonight by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, let us get the juices flowing and the excitement brewing for what’s expected to be a memorable NBA Draft.

What picks do the Raptors have?

Toronto was awarded the fourth overall pick following the NBA Draft Lottery on June 22nd. The Raptors had the seventh-best odds at getting the top pick, so moving up to fourth is a big win for Masai Ujiri and Co.

The Raptors will also be picking 46th (acquired from Memphis) and 47th (acquired from Golden State).

Mock Draft

Here is how we expect the lottery picks to shake out:

  1. Cade Cunningham – Detroit Pistons (read our prospect profile here)
  2. Jalen Green – Houston Rockets (read our prospect profile here)
  3. Evan Mobley – Cleveland Cavaliers (read our prospect profile here)
  4. Jalen Suggs – Toronto Raptors (read our prospect profile here)
  5. Jonathan Kuminga – Orlando Magic (read our prospect profile here)
  6. James Bouknight – Oklahoma City Thunder (read our prospect profile here)
  7. Davion Mitchell – Golden State Warriors
  8. Keon Johnson – Orlando Magic
  9. Scottie Barnes – Sacramento Kings (read our prospect profile here)
  10. Josh Giddey – Memphis Grizzlies
  11. Kai Jones – Charlotte Hornets
  12. Franz Wagner – San Antonio Spurs
  13. Moses Moody – Indiana Pacers
  14. Corey Kispert – Golden State Warriors

You can read our full lottery mock draft here.

What the Raptors are looking for?

Toronto has two glaring roster holes: a shot creator and a starting center. Picking so high in the draft, this would be a great opportunity for the Raptors to fill one of those needs for free, acquiring a bright young prospect that can play a role immediately and hopefully grow into a star. The top of the 2021 NBA Draft class is filled with shot creators.

Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs are all guys who can score in a multitude of ways, both excitingly and efficiently. Evan Mobley, the centre out of USC that rounds out the projected top four picks of the draft, is a versatile and athletic big-man who could dominate with his two-way abilities and skill. The good thing about Toronto’s position in the draft is that they’ll be content with any of these players falling to them at four. Each of them would provide a boost to the Raptors’ offence and add a go-to scorer, while Mobley would likely solve the team’s issues as a dependable centre, while projecting as a dominant paint presence.

Raptors’ fans should be both excited and confident that the player they pick with the fourth overall selection will not only be a solid prospect, but also one that fits a need for Nick Nurse.

Trades to look out for

This NBA off-season is expected to be a hectic one, and that can kick off on the draft floor on Thursday night. With the likes of Ben Simmons and potentially Damian Lillard being shopped around, don’t be surprised to see a big splash, with picks and players moving from team to team.

A trade rumour involving Raptors’ star Pascal Siakam surfaced a few weeks ago, in a supposed deal with Golden State that would include the likes of Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman, with one or both of the Warriors’ lottery picks this year (read our breakdown of the rumoured trade proposal here).

On Tuesday, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that the Oklahoma City Thunder are willing to trade Canadian guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The asking price is probably huge, and a deal involving the 23-year-old is unlikely. Would OKC consider a package involving Toronto’s fourth pick for SGA?

The draft order was shaken up on Monday when the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans struck a big deal:

With so many questions marks around the league leading up to the draft, don’t be surprised to see some significant moves during or following the action on Thursday night.

The NBA Draft is one of the biggest and most influential days in the NBA calendar, and this year’s event is sure to live up to the hype that’s been building over the last few months. With a top pick in the mix for Raptors’ fans to look out for, you won’t want to miss the action when it kicks off at 8PM EST on TSN and Sportsnet.

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