On Thursday night around 8:45, NBA commissioner Adam Silver will announce the Toronto Raptors pick. Since the arrival of Raptors President Masai Ujiri, the Raptors have been notorious for having a tight-lipped group. During the draft, NBA insiders tweet the selections minutes before the pick is revealed on live TV, but not for the Raptors. The Toronto Raptors are the only team whose pick is not leaked prior to the selection. These “Woj-Bombs” start prior to the draft with rumours swirling to build hype for the night. The past couple of days have been full of Raptors-related gossip, from Pascal Siakam trades to the Raptors moving up to the 3rd pick. With the rumours circulating I looked at different options for the Raptors. Here are the 5 different directions I think they can go, and how each scenario would look.
Scenario 1: The draft goes as expected
Cade Cunningham 1, Jalen Green 2, Evan Mobley 3, and Jalen Suggs 4.
This is the most likely scenario, based on Vegas odds and expert’s mock drafts. In this scenario, the Raptors get their Kyle Lowry replacement. Suggs is a high-IQ point guard, who has all the makings of a franchise player. Suggs made the most of a great situation at Gonzaga and showed he is comfortable as a passer, or scorer for an offence. He is a great athlete who can get downhill, but his half-court offence needs some work. Suggs fits well on the Raptors from day one as he is a fantastic defender and passer. Suggs is a great fit for the Raptors mold and would have a day 1 impact. This is the most likely scenario.
Scenario 2: The Raptors shock the league
Cade Cunningham 1, Jalen Green 2, Evan Mobley 3 and the Raptors take Scottie Barnes at 4.
This is one of the new rumors swirling, the Raptors have apparently done extensive work on Scottie Barnes leading up to the draft. To me this seems like hype from Barnes’ agent and PR team, the Raptors have not been known to show their hand before the draft. Barnes has the potential to be a Draymond Green type player, who would fit the Raptors culture and style. Barnes positional fit would be redundant as he is a similar size to OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam, leaving less playtime with the current roster. Some mock drafters have Barnes’ in this spot, and it would not be a major shock to see the Raptors go against the grain.
Scenario 3: The Raptors get lucky
Cade Cunningham 1, Jalen Green 2, Jalen Suggs 3 and the Raptors take Evan Mobley at 4. Or the Raptors trade with Cleveland and move to 3 to select Evan Mobley.
This scenario requires one of two things to happen, Cleveland trades Colin Sexton and they fall in love with Suggs or someone trades up to 3 and takes Suggs. In either of these scenarios, the Raptors get Evan Mobley, who may be the best fit of anyone in the draft for the Raptors roster. Mobley is considered by experts to be a basketball unicorn and a franchise cornerstone. The Raptors need some sort of a miracle for Mobley to fall to 4, or a trade up to 3 with Cleveland. So far it sounds like the Cavaliers would need a big offer to consider trading the 3rd pick, but the Raptors have assets to complete a trade. This is unlikely to happen as it would require Cleveland to believe in other assets over Evan Mobley, and all signs point to him being their pick.
Scenario 4: The Raptors trade back
Last week, Towards Data Sciences published an article about the best drafting teams in the NBA, the Raptors finished first over the past 12 drafts. With that in mind, the Raptors may decide to move back and acquire more picks. This method has been adopted in the NFL by some of the top franchises, it would not shock me to see an NBA team try it out. If the Raptors were to trade back the Magic, Warriors, Thunder, and Grizzlies are among the teams looking to move up with extra picks over the next couple of years. The Raptors have worked out almost all the consensus lottery picks, so they have done their homework if they end up picking later in the draft. This scenario is unlikely as the Raptors have some depth and could use a plus starter sooner than later.
Scenario 5: The Raptors blow up the draft
Cade Cunningham 1, Jalen Green 2, Evan Mobley 3, and the Raptors select Jonathan Kuminga at 4.
The NBA draft has seen its share of draft day surprises and this is would be among them. Kuminga is a project, but he has the tools to be the best player in this draft. Kuminga is still 18 and he has shown flashes of greatness in his time with the G-League’s Ignite. He competed against NBA talent and held his own, there are experts who think he has the potential to be an All-NBA player. The Raptors have one of the best development programs in the NBA, Masai might decide he wants a homegrown superstar and take the risk. This scenario is the most unlikely as the Raptors roster is ready to compete now, and they can’t afford to have a development season with this pick.
The Raptors are in a great position to change their future, and I can’t wait to see what Masai and the Raptors do on thursday night.