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RR 2021 NBA Draft Raptors Big Board – Top 10 Options at #4

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Photo Credit: Alex Tansley https://www.instagram.com/tansley24/

At the RR Home Office in Athabasca, Alberta, our writers have been huddled for days trying to figure out what to do with #4. Here’s the Top 10 options. The weighted averages of the rankings constitute the order. Where the writer ranked the player is noted in parentheses. Contributing to the Big Board this year are Adon Moss, Chris Anderson, Brendan Stewart, Kyle Brickman, Bowen Assman, Sahal Abdi, Oren Weisfeld, Samson Folk and Manny Rao – be sure to follow them.

Also, check out our three-part draft primer series as well:

Without further ado:

#1: Jalen Green

6’6″, 180lbs, SG, G-League, Freshman

Manny Rao (#1) – Perhaps the greatest pure scorer in this draft class. Green has the ability to light you up and based on what we saw from him in the G-League, he can ignite (pun intended) the offense in multiple ways. Whether he’s launching it from downtown or creating pick-and-roll scoring opportunities, he’s capable of filling the basket. Another aspect of his game that intrigues me is his ability to be an off-ball scorer.  His athleticism is really where things click, as it’s allowed him to score buckets on buckets. That is, whenever he catches fire. His offense can be streaky but building up his confidence at the pro-level will be essential down the road. His defense and playmaking ability is where he’ll need to improve the most and I’m inclined to believe that the Raptors current roster will help him succeed in every way possible. If he falls to four, Toronto needs to grab him. The last time Toronto had someone that excelled as a shot creator, we all know what happened…

Adon Moss (#1) – When a GM has a “type” you risk homogeneity. Adding Jalen Green is like dropping an Alka-Seltzer into a glass of tepid Cola. He’s brash, cocky, long, score-first-and-fast, and bouncy AF. That’s all of what the Raptors lack. Gary Trent Jr. has the mentality, but lacks the tools; OG and Siakam are more modest. Green is also a perfect complement to the tireless, but small FVV/Lowry backcourt both in athleticism and in flair. His polish-to-potential ratio as a scorer is highest of all draftees.

Brendan Stewart (#1) – Jalen Green – I think at this point even the most optimistic Raptors fans have to realize that this team badly needs a number one option more than anything else. Simply put, no team is winning a championship without a player who can consistently and reliably create for themselves in a half-court offence. The Raptors have nobody like that right now. As long as that role remains vacant, so too do their championship aspirations. Green’s incredible talent for being able to score at all three levels combined with his athleticism and undeniable charisma makes him my preferred choice for the Raptors of the remaining top 4 prospects.

Chris Anderson (#2) – The Jalen I see most likely out of himself and Suggs to fall to the Raptors at four, Green’s floor-spacing and shot-creating abilities at 6’5″ would be a welcomed addition to a team with few efficient individual shot creators. Green finished 18th in G-League in scoring last season at 17.9 points per game, shooting 36.5% from three in the process. Although the Pistons were reportedly interested in Green, they won’t pass up on Cade Cunningham, leaving the possibility for Green to drop to four. Also, Green already has experience playing in the G-League, and we know how much the Raptors love their G-Leaguers.

Samson Folk (#2) – Green’s ceiling as a scorer, particularly in the halfcourt, represents the Raptors most glaring hole – a supernova of bucket-getting. A violent first step, that will crumble defenses in rotation, with the potential for the type of superstar shotmaking that has become invaluable in the playoffs. Defensively, he has range and can transform turnovers into buckets comfortably, one of the core tenets of the Raptors defense.

Bowen Assman (#2) – Green skipped college for the NBA G-League route to play for the Ignite team. It was a great decision as he was able to play against fringe NBA and G-League men. His per stats were impressive, averaging 17.9 points/ 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists. It is more likely that Green would fall to the Raptors over Suggs as the Cavaliers already have two undersized guards and adding Green (at a wiry 178 pounds) would create a gigantic defensive chasm. However, I am not sold that his scoring chops will translate directly. He does not have the tightest handle and hasn’t shown advanced playmaking skills yet. The comparisons to Zach Lavine as an uber athletic offensive dynamo have been thrown around, but I am afraid he may grade out more to a Ben McLemore type. His defensive skills could be the turning point if he’s able to level up in the league. Seeing him sky for rim rattling dunks off fast breaks would be cause for excitement, and Toronto’s development system is perfectly suited for his type.

Sahal Abdi (#2) –  Green has absolutely everything you look for in a potential 20+ PPG scorer. His path to future stardom looks clear as day when you observe and dissect his tape. Toronto’s halfcourt offense could definitely use a talented shot creator like Green.

Kyle Brickman (#3) – With Houston GM Rafael Stone being a Morey protege, I hesitated including Green at all in this list. Houston’s front office has a well documented history of not valuing bigs, and are in a position to take a swing at a potential superstar. If Green does slip past Houston, and Cleveland for that matter, he could develop into a generational talent for the Raps. Green is the ultimate low-floor high-ceiling prospect, perfectly tailored to the current NBA meta of über-athletic 3 level scorers. That being said, I’m not sold on the fit in Toronto. Much has been made about the Raps’ lack of shot creation, but given the current roster construction I’m not sure how many shots are necessarily “up for grabs.” Siakam typically demands a high number of touches, as do VanVleet and Gary Trent (assuming he’s back). All this without mentioning OG, who will — if things go according to plan — see his usage rate increase for a second straight year in 2022. If the Raptors decide to press the reset button and commit to a multi-season tank, it would make sense for the front office to start swinging for the fences — and Green has the potential to be the biggest home run in the entire draft.

#2: Evan Mobley

7’0″, 215lbs, PF/C, USC, Freshman

Chris Anderson (#1) – Being the only centre projected to land in the top 10, Mobley is the perfect fit for Toronto, a team that finished 28th in rebounding last season and lacks depth at the position. Although many consider Mobley to be the second-best prospect in the draft, there is potential for him to drop to four given that Christian Wood and Jarrett Allen already occupy Houston and Cleveland’s centre positions, respectively. His 8.7 rebounds per game in college last season would instantly help the Raptors, while his modest 30% three-point shooting as a centre suits the Raptors as a team who like bigs who can space the floor.

Samson Folk (#1) – Many of the draft analysts I respect most highlight Mobley as an almost unprecedented defensive prospect. Elite toolset, top notch feel, and a motormouth to communicate with his teammates while utilizing all of it. Offensively, he’ll immediately be able to plug in to lots of the Raptors pet sets and provide value. A unique opportunity to place a potential DPOY player next to OG Anunoby – who could contend for one himself.

Kyle Brickman (#1) – For NBA franchises, the eternal dilemma when drafting is whether to pick the best player available or a player that fits a positional need. When such qualities overlap, and in Mobley’s case they do, the pick is a no-brainer. In the unlikely case that Mobley is available at 4, I can’t imagine it takes Bobby Webster much time to deliver the pick to Adam Silver. Long, athletic, intelligent and technically skilled, what more you could one possibly want in a big man.

Sahal Abdi (#1): In what’s looking more and more like a pipe dream at pick number 4 for Toronto, Mobley is the collective apple of Toronto fans’ eyes. And no, Cade isn’t falling. You don’t need to be a draft analyst to love his game. The innumerable amount of tools he possesses, plus his glove-like fit in the modern NBA is tantalizing.

Oren Weisfeld (#1) –  Listen, I’m happy to get any of Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs, or Evan Mobley to Toronto, but if there is any way the Raptors can land Mobley, I would be ecstatic. The thing about Mobley is that he is a true unicorn big who can shoot, pass, and put the ball on the floor. That is rare and that is the type of center who can give opposing teams matchup problems in the playoffs. Perhaps because of the 2021 postseason, people are falling in love with jump-shooters and going away from bigs, but you don’t need to go far back to realize that bigs often dictate matchups and determine who goes the furthest. In 2020, it was Anthony Davis, Nicola Jokic, Bam Adebayo, and Boston in the final four. Having an elite big man can change your playoff fortunes even without elite jump shooting.

Simply put, I think Mobley has the highest upside of the bunch and maybe even the highest in the draft. He would immediately contribute as a rim protector, floor spacer, and passer, and might eventually be able to put the ball on the floor and create for himself. I’ll take that, please.

Brendan Stewart (#2) – The obvious choice from a fit perspective. Mobley is a true seven-footer who moves and handles the ball like a wing. Mobley is a top 5 defender in the draft and will no doubt be an elite perimeter defender in the league, but he needs to bulk up if he wants to contain the Embiids and Jokers of the NBA. Hesitancy arises with Mobley due to the fact that he’s likely going to take the longest to develop of the top 4 prospects, and the fact that he doesn’t really have a reliable post game makes some question if he’s even suited to be a full-timer at the 5. Regardless, the talent is undeniable and Mobley is one of the best big man prospects in years. If he falls to the 4th pick, passing on him would be out of the question. The question is if he even falls to 4th in the first place.

Manny Rao (#2) – I’m very unsure about Mobley. Generally speaking, big men prospects always scare me away because it takes longer to develop them. Although, if Mobley falls to number 4 and the Raps select him, he’ll fill that painful void, still felt from the departure of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. I don’t expect him to contribute to whoever selects him right away. However, with the right developmental system (Toronto has the best in the league), I could see him becoming a better Tyson Chandler. For a big, he’s a capable ball handler, can score from anywhere within the arc but can you imagine how scary he’d be if he developed a three-point shot? That in addition to adding more muscle to his frame is what entices me the most about his potential fit next to other lengthy defenders like OG and Siakam.

#3: Jalen Suggs

6’4″, 205lbs, PG, Gonzaga, Freshman

Bowen Assman (#1) – I like Suggs here for the Raptors. He was the leader on the Gonzaga team that made it to the NCAA Championship game and is the definition of unselfish. Suggs is defensively stout, with leadership qualities akin to Kyle Lowry. Being paired with Fred VanVleet in the backcourt would allow VanVleet to play his preferred off-ball game which unlocks greater offense. Sugs is more of a high floor/low ceiling type and the least likely of the top four to be a superstar, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Fans would instantly fall in love with his defensive intensity.

Kyle Brickman (#2) – The chatter around the league seems to suggest that Suggs is a guaranteed contributor at the NBA level, but not necessarily the franchise-altering talent that teams picking in the top 4 are typically looking for. Toronto, however, are not your typical lottery team. If the Raptors are confident in the Siakam/FVV/OG core, Suggs slides in perfectly as a Kyle Lowry replacement. His biggest flaw is his shooting, hitting only 33.7% of his 3s, but 75.4% from the line is encouraging and the Raptors have proven track record when it comes to developing jumpshots. He’s not as athletically gifted as Green (but is anyone?), nor does he possess the same ability to create for himself. That being said, Suggs is a proven commodity and by all accounts is the highest character guy in the draft. I don’t know about you, but he sounds like a Raptor to me.

Chris Anderson (#3) – The two reasons I see Suggs less likely to drop to four than Green is recency bias and leadership. Having just led Gonzaga to the NCAA Tournament Final, the Rockets or Cavaliers may feel inclined to pick a player such as Suggs with leadership qualities and recent experience in high-pressure situations. Suggs scored 22 points on 8/15 shooting in the final, a game in which the rest of his team did not perform up to Gonzaga’s high standard. Suggs has already stated that he would like to take a leadership role in the NBA and has the potential to thrive alongside a player like Fred VanVleet, who has similar ideals.

Manny Rao (#3) – In my opinion, this is the most probable situation and I’m not mad about it. Toronto has thrived when multiple decision-makers are on the court and it stands to reason that adding one more won’t hurt them. In fact, Suggs is like Lowry in a lot of ways. Both are leaders, both are great at off-ball and on-ball defending. They’re both quick off their feet and their hands are always active. The one thing that Suggs needs to work on is his shooting. The league is built on shooting these days and as we witnessed with Philadelphia and Ben Simmons, it doesn’t matter how talented you are; if you can’t shoot the ball in today’s game, it’s easy to label you a liability.

Brendan Stewart (#3) – The great part about having the 4th pick in this draft is that it’s impossible to be disappointed with who the Raptors come away with from the top group. Suggs may be my least favourite of these specific prospects, but he’s still an amazing player and an easy bet to rack up some all star selections in his NBA career. Suggs is an intelligent and athletic 6’4 point guard, so he seamlessly slides in as the successor to Kyle Lowry. This would then allow the Raptors to move Fred VanVleet off ball where he’s better suited, or perhaps explore trade opportunities with him to patch holes at other positions on the roster. Suggs’ defence is already developed enough where you could call him “elite” for his position, and his shot-making is developing to a point where he could realistically become a good scorer as well, but he needs to improve his moves in the half court. Suggs is the “safest” pick of the bunch here, and his scoring upside isn’t as sexy as Green or Mobley, but that doesn’t mean his ceiling isn’t also ridiculously high. He plays well in the big moments and is a natural leader, he’d take the keys to the franchise in no time.

Samson Folk (#3) – Would be the latest addition of a do-it-all, analytics darling guard to the Raptors roster. His range defensively pairs extremely well with the Raptors scheme, and he could be a plus defender shortly after hitting the league. A menace in transition on offense, like many other Raptors. The halfcourt creation and jumpshot aren’t anything to write home about, but he thrives as a connector on offense.

Sahal Abdi (#3) – I know, I know. The chalk rankings of Mobley, Green and finally Suggs. To be clear – and this may change – I’m almost split on who I want between the Jalen’s. What I will say is, the fit of Suggs beside VanVleet is snug and the fact that this kid isn’t in the consensus top-two of this draft is INSANE. A super athletic combo guard with good feel, an all-around offensive game and a menace in transition. If this is the guy, Toronto – Celebrate.

#4: Scottie Barnes

6’9″, 225lbs, SF/PF, Florida State, Freshman

Adon Moss (#2) – speaking of “types”, Scottie is the Masai-type sucking back Popeye’s Spinach. Assuming work ethic chops, he’s the Kawhi/Paul George raw-to-great player type. Those guys seldom come to fruition, but with a rare opportunity to have this high a lottery pick, why the Hell not? If by year three, he’s breathing that high altitude air of potential, concurrent to our current roster’s climaxing talents, the timing could be perfect. Anything less, you still have a big, agile, defensive stopper (I know, I know, I just described Ben Simmons, but an OG, Siakam, Barnes frontline is funnnnnnnn!)

Brendan Stewart (#4) – To be 100% clear: The Raptors going off board at the 4th pick and not selecting Green/Suggs/Mobley would be a horrific mistake and a terrible misuse of assets. They could trade down. I wouldn’t like it, but I would look at Scottie Barnes in that case. An athletic 6’8 forward with a 7’2 wingspan who is one of the best passers in the draft would have any GM licking their chops. Scottie is most likely going to play at the 4, but the best use of his skills and development would be to let him run the point. He can defend 1-4, but his offence leaves much to be desired. While he’s efficient at the rim, his shot is wonky and he needs to develop his handle, otherwise his offensive ceiling is going to remain low.

Kyle Brickman (#4) – No matter where he ends up, Barnes will be the next fascination of NBA Twitter nerds everywhere. A 6’8” forward with the playmaking ability of a guard and the potential to defend 1-4. Value-wise, taking Barnes at 4 is a bit of a disaster, but if the Raptors were to trade back a spot or two and pick Barnes it’s not hard to imagine him blossoming into something truly special in Toronto.

Bowen Assman (#4) – Immensely athletic with guard skills at 6’9” and a built 225 pounds.  He was also fourth in the NBA Draft combine this week for standing vertical leap, at 36 inches. It is intriguing to imagine the defensive skill with a FVV/Barnes/OG/Siakam foursome. He was, however only a 27.5% three-point shooter, so there are questions the jumper will not translate. He’s certainly a prospect more suited to a rebuild than contending now. We will learn a lot about the Raptors offseason plan based upon the pick here, and drafting Barnes would signify a step back from playoff contention.

Sahal Abdi (#4) – Man, what a talent this young man is. A beautiful blend of defensive versatility, playmaking, high NBA IQ and rim-finishing. He’s gotten the Draymond Green comparisons for a reason. One of the more NBA-ready prospects. Toronto can find an immediate role for this kid, and he’ll make a difference.

#5: Jonathan Kuminga

6’6″, 210lbs, SF/PF, G-League, Freshman

Bowen Assman (#3) – Kuminga was teammates with Green on Ignite, and he did not look overmatched offensively. He is an athletic marvel with a 7-foot wingspan who has the potential to guard 1-4 and also be used offensively in a number of different positions. He is not the best defender now and struggled mentally within the Ignite system. He will need some seasoning, but the potential is tantalizing with a frontcourt of Pascal Siakam and Kuminga. The question will be if the Raptors can wait around a couple of years for Kuminga’s development to come to fruition.

Chris Anderson (#4) – Similar to Green, Kuminga will enter the NBA already having experience in the G-League last season. Kuminga scored 15.8 points per game in the G-League, finishing 32nd in the league in that respect. While Kuminga has efficiency issues at the offensive end, with shooting splits of 38/24/62 last season, his raw athleticism at 6’8″ could make him a solid rebound-by-committee guy and a worthy project to take on. If the Raptors take him, he will join an already sizeable list of African-born players brought in by Masai Ujiri and co., including Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, and Bismack Biyombo.

#6: Trade The Pick

Adon Moss (#2) – Someone’s gotta put it out there. I don’t want to do it, but I’m doing it (assuming the draft goes chalk with Cade, Mobley):Washington – 2021 4th overall pick, 2023 1st round pick, Masai Ujiri, sign & trade Gary Trent Jr., and filler $$Toronto – Bradley Beal, Daniel Gafford (I can hope)
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Oklahoma City – 2021 4th overall pick, Toronto – 2021 6th overall pick, 2021 18th overall pick, 2022 second-round pick
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Philly – sign & trade Kyle Lowry, 2021 4th overall pickToronto – Ben Simmons, 2021 28th overall pick
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Sacramento – 2021 4th overall pick, sign & trade Gary Trent Jr.
Toronto – 2021 9th overall pick, 2023 first-round pick, Richaun Holmes

#7: Jaden Springer

6’4″, 205lbs, SG, Tennessee, Freshman

Samson Folk (#4) – Hailed as the best guard-defender in the draft. A real hound at the point of attack. Like Green and Suggs above him, he can put significant pressure on a rotating defense, and he clears the lane with physicality and guile in a similar fashion to what you’ll see from Kyle Lowry. The 5 spot has a lot of different options, but I like Springer’s chances of improving his jumper to pair with a really impressive floor game.

Brendan Stewart (#5) – I’m just going to shout out a player who deserves more love here. If the Raptors decide to trade back they should look at him too. It is absolutely criminal how low Jaden Springer is ranked across various draft boards while his teammate Keon Johnson enjoys top 10 discussion. Springer is an 18 year old combo guard who is a jack of all trades offensively while being one of the better point of attack defenders in the draft. He’s almost similar to Kyle Lowry with how much of a pest he is on the defensive end, and it’s easy to see the physically gifted combo guard having a 10+ year long career in the NBA.

#8: Franz Wagner

6’9″, 220lbs, SF/PF, Michigan, Sophomore

Many Rao (#4) – This is a HUGE reach but let me tell you about Wagner. He’s six-nine and can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court. He’s a solid defender and with his length, he has the ability to improve that area of his game. He’s not someone like Cunningham, Suggs, Green, or Mobley (all of which might be transcendent), but he’ll fill his role as a shooter very nicely. His determination and demeanour will ultimately be the deciding factor in how his game transitions from overseas to the NBA. Whatever team selects him is going to be very happy down the line.

#9: Davion Mitchell

6’2″, 205lbs, PG, Baylor, Junior

Chris Anderson (#5): While it would be surprising if the Raptors selected Mitchell at four, he fits the mold of point guards that the Raptors have used in recent seasons. Mitchell, who just won the NCAA Tournament with Baylor, is best known for his dogged on-ball defence, something the Raptors tend to value in their point guards (such as Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, and most recently Malachi Flynn). Having said this, it is not as if Mitchell cannot also chip in on the offensive end, having shot 44% from three and 51% from the field last season. Mitchell would also join the list of players to recently play multiple college seasons before joining the Raptors, including VanVleet, Siakam, Flynn, OG Anunoby, and Norman Powell.

#10: James Bouknight

6’5″, 190lbs, SG, UConn, Sophomore

Bowen Assman (#5) – He is arguably the most talented scorer in the draft. At 6’5” and 190 pounds, his size enables him to play both guard positions. He has a skillset in the mold of Gary Trent Jr. and if Trent gets a large offer from another team, I think Toronto would be comfortable putting their cap space elsewhere if they can get Bouknight. Obviously, drafting him at four is a stretch but I would not be opposed to trading down and nabbing him. The UConn product has the most potential as a number one scoring option in the draft.

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