This year has understandably been a bit of a let down for Raptors fans, but in some ways there’s a lot that they should have seen coming. As Louis touched on in his article last week, a complete lack of any reliable half-court creators, paltry shooting, and a barebones rotation of point guards and true centres means that they still have a lot of issues to address. Permanent solutions to these roster construction issues come easily to big market teams such as Los Angeles, New York, and Miami, but teams like the Raptors usually come out of free agency negotiations with the leftovers. This means that the draft is the most important tool to developing and maintaining a strong roster for teams who struggle to attract starter-level free agents, and it’s a tool that the Raptors have somewhat neglected in recent years.
The roster construction has been noticeably flawed since the Raptors suffered that initial post-championship talent-bleed after the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Very few draft picks between 2017 and now have meant that the Raptors haven’t had a very deep development pipeline in the works to replace the fan favourite bench mob that was a franchise staple for years. The late-round draft picks and undrafted players the Raptors have picked up to try and patch that wound haven’t all worked out as well as they would have hoped, and that certainly hasn’t helped matters at all. Suddenly, we’re in this situation where the bench is bad and the Raptors don’t really have the means to fix it immediately without gutting their already shallow top-end talent and/or giving up future draft capital. Not exactly a great thing to do when you aren't in a contending position.
This is why the draft is so important. Sure, you’re not guaranteed a star. You are however given the ability to select players who can become valuable rotation pieces or be used in future trades. Those players can develop into stars too if your scouting staff knows what they’re doing, especially if you're selecting higher in the draft, as the talent pool becomes much deeper.
In spite of the constant losses, I find following the draft to be quite exciting. Evaluating the top prospects all year long and finding out what teams they go to on draft night is a fun and rewarding process to study. Even though the Raptors are losing, they have their pick. That pick, currently bouncing between 6th and 8th overall, could easily help establish the future core of the Toronto Raptors that has already begun construction with the selection of Scottie Barnes in 2021.
The purpose of this piece is to help Raptors fans become more acquainted with this year’s draft class. Everybody knows Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson, the projected top two players, but there are a handful of other prospects who will also serve as excellent prizes to those teams who miss out on the top two selections.
This will serve as a simple introduction to the draft class. I’;ll be providing brief summaries of the prospects. More in-depth pieces will arrive as the season goes on and we get more information about these players along with a more concrete idea of where the Raptors will be picking.
Let’s get the big ones out of the way first, shall we?
Victor Wembanyama | H: 7’2, WS: 7’9 | Forward/Big | Metropolitans 92
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