The Toronto Raptors have moved quickly to land an undrafted free agent. The team has agreed to a training camp deal with Rawle Alkins, according to a report from Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated.
UPDATE: Raptors Republic has learned Alkins’ deal is an Exhibit 10 contract. That means he’ll have a camp invite and a chance to make the roster, and that the Raptors hold the option to convert his deal to a two-way contract. Failing either of those outcomes, Alkins will have a guarantee of up to $50,000 if he agrees to become an affiliate player with Raptors 905 (in addition to the G League salary) and stays there long enough.
Alkins is a name who has been on the Raptors’ radar for some time now. When he tested the draft waters in 2017, the Raptors brought him in for a pre-draft workout, both to get an intimate look at him and to establish a scouting baseline against which to evaluate his development. Alkins ultimately decided to return to Arizona for a sophomore season, and while that didn’t help his draft stock – he was ranked as a fringe pick a year ago but mocked to be in the second round and went undrafted here in 2018 – the Raptors obviously saw enough growth to want to bring him into their development incubator.
It’s not terribly difficult to see why, even though the 20-year-old Alkins didn’t take much of a step forward in his second go-around as a Wildcat. The numbers remain fairly impressive – he averaged 13.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals while hitting 35.9 percent on four 3-point attempts per-game, all roughly in line with his freshman year, and Alkins’ small uptick in responsibility saw him earn Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 honors. This, despite missing nine games at the start of the year due to a broken foot that reportedly kept him at something below 100 percent most of the season.
From a tools perspective, Alkins has the type of 3-and-D potential the Raptors seek with these potentially undervalued assets. He only stands 6-foot-4 but possesses a 6-foot-9 wingspan and is 217 pounds, making for solid size at the two-guard or as a wing in general. He’s used that size well to haul in offensive rebounds and get to the line, he blocks shots well for a perimeter player, and is a strong on-ball defender in general. He has great lateral quickness that allows him to stay in front of ball-handlers, changes direction well, and was one of the best defenders in college basketball according to Synergy Sports data. On the shooting side, his release is quick and smooth, which is important since the bulk of his offense will probably come spotting up or running the floor in transition.
Alkins likely slid out of the draft due to a combination of his tools not quite materializing in elite production and because it’s unclear what he’ll do at an above-average level on the offensive end in the NBA, especially if he winds up just a so-so shooter. He’s a little sloppy creating for himself, doesn’t have the elite free-throw rate to reliably project 3-point shooting growth, isn’t a great shooter on the move, and plateaued in most offensive categories. At the defensive end, his off-ball and team-level defense aren’t anywhere near where his individual defense is, and there could be a learning curve guarding in a more complex NBA environment where opponents will force him to make more reads and decisions. A lot of these perceived weaknesses have to do with consistency of approach and application, and the Raptors have done well turning far more raw players into producers.
All told, there’s a lot to like here. He has good positional size, a track record of strong individual defense in a major conference, is the type of “motor” guy teams love on the undrafted pile, and his some shooting reliability from profiling as a potential 3-and-D weapon. Given how valuable those are, how scarce good wing players are in general, and the holes the Raptors may have to fill in the rotation if their offseason breaks in certain directions, Alkins seems like a worthwhile name to bring into the system.
Looking around the league, feelings on Alkins seem pretty mixed, though getting him undrafted is unquestionably good value. My amalgamation of 14 different draft rankings saw him ranked No. 40 in the draft, and I saw him as high as No. 20 (Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer) and now lower than No. 57 (one of ESPN’s analytic models). His average rank was 39.1, making him the second-best undrafted free agent in my database after Kenrich Williams.
From here, Alkins will likely suit up for the Raptors at Las Vegas Summer League. It’s possible the actual signing is delayed until later in the summer, and it’s not immediately clear if Alkins has signed a standard camp invite deal or an Exhibit 10 and, flowing from there, whether he’s a candidate for the NBA roster, a two-way contract, or a potential stint as a Raptors 905 affiliate piece (Alkins would be a defensive monster at the G League level and could benefit from the extra touches he’d receive there to round out his offensive edges). A lot of that could be determined by how the offseason plays out. For now, he’s in the system and will be under the Raptors’ purview for the most important summer of his career, where he’ll have a chance to compete with Malcolm Miller, Alfonzo McKinnie, and others for position on the team’s wing depth chart.
As far as making moves after failing to get into the draft, this is a nice start.