With individual prospect coverage wrapped up for the season, it’s time to reflect and look forward. This is my first time hosting a roundtable, so please be gentle, and I’d also like to thank these fellas for humouring my draft-obsessed mind by providing their inputs. Please give them a round of applause and be sure to follow their socials:
Naturally, I’m sure we’ve all done the appropriate amount of research to prepare for such a momentous article…
Now that we’ve got the jokes out of the way, let’s actually dive in to what everybody thinks about the draft this year, and what Toronto needs to do:
1. What do you think is the biggest thing that the Raptors need to address at the draft?
(GIVE ME HOOPERS OR GIVE ME DEPTH)
Guard depth and shooting are the two biiiiig holes on the roster. Ideally you can find a prospect who can be molded into an elite scoring option down the line, but those guys are few and far between once you get past those first few top picks. In the mean time, you’re happy if you can pick a guard to help shore up depth while also providing some spacing.
Also, in terms of trades, big fan of those. Let’s get some assets back and not keep sitting on our hands, please?
(2023: A SPACING ODYSSEY)
Shooting is the answer. The raptors need more lineups that can space the floor. The other issue that most needs addressing is speed and athleticism in the back court.
(FRED’S PRODUCTION/GUARD DEPTH)
There are some pretty large question marks surrounding Fred’s future as a Raptor but the guard room in general in Toronto. The Raptors do not have a guard currently on the roster who is ready to take a starting job if Fred does leave this offseason. While the shooting needs are quite apparent, there is potential to address both concerns with one pick.
(FRAUD’S PRODUCTION/GUARD DEPTH)
A ball-handling and scoring guard. Basically, all the stuff that Fred VanVleet was supposed to do but didn’t (Editor’s note: DAAAAAAAMN). The Pascal Siakam as primary ball-handler experiment is over, and the results aren’t that great. It’s better to go back to what’s proven to work over 70 years, a decent pick ‘n roll and a sound shot-making, both can be addressed at the draft.
The uncertainty of what the Toronto Raptors are/want/need/must do has reached levels of such absurdity the entire aggregating/reporting/rumour-mongering mechanism is operating full swing. The control centre reaching dangerous levels of output AWWWOOOGA!
Masai’s a miser. Pascal’s a Blazer. O.G. a Pacer. Freddy’s everywhere. Gary’s opting in. Gary’s opting out. And Poetl….WHAT DO WE DO WITH POETL?
It seems, that the draft pick – a not too shabby 13th overall one – is the last of the mysteries we must solve. Simply, because the answer is the same whatever direction this office goes. (Unless, it’s a good ol’ fashioned push down on the dynamite plunger situation, in which case no holds barred.) And, that answer is scoring guard.
Raptors have none contractually obligated to the team at the moment. The draft seems to possess a litany of them. Seems like a perfect match. A match if struck might just blow this whole roster to smithereens…KAPOWEE.
2. Since 2014, the Raptors have placed an emphasis on drafting players with strong physical profiles and defensive versatility, believing that they can teach shooting later. Do you think this is sustainable re: building a roster, or should they shift focus to a more offensive-minded approach?
(WHY NOT BOTH?)
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with valuing defensive versatility. My problem is when you do it so often, in every draft, that your depth comes to lose any sort of offensive upside, creating a logjam of defensive specialists who struggle to do much else on the other end of the floor. I don’t think the Raptors should overcorrect and go for an offensive player who can’t guard his own shadow, but there are defensively inclined players with solid offensive games at this point of the draft. Ignoring those prospects to focus on another pure defensive prospect would be a silly decision, to me, and kind of show that they aren’t learning from previous mistakes.
(OFFENCE IS TEACHABLE, SIZE IS NOT)
It’s sustainable. Last year the raptors acquired Otto Porter Jr. which ended up being a disaster, but the vision still makes sense. Height and athleticism are not teachable skills. You can teach Scottie and Precious how to shoot, but it’s going to take patience and time; whereas, you can’t teach Malachi or GTJ to be taller. Last year was painful, but the market efficiency Masai and Bobby are trying to exploit is real. That said, balancing is necessary at a certain point, just maybe not through the draft.
I do tend to lean towards agreeing with the Raptors regarding their philosophies on drafting for physical tools and trusting that they can develop the offensive skills later on. I think it’s important to keep in mind that no matter what set of ideals a team holds regarding the draft, there are going to be hits and misses.
The Raptors have a reputation for drafting long defensive-minded players; they also swerve in the completely opposite direction at times to draft smaller offensive-minded guards. The same philosophy that got you OG and Pascal also got you Bruno Caboclo. The same principles that got you Fred also got you Malachi. There are rarely any guarantees when it comes to drafting but the Raptors have turned water to wine a lot more than their counterparts.
(BRING BALANCE TO THE FORCE, NOT LEAVE IT IN DARKNESS)
That strategy didn’t really work because we discovered that you still need to score, and that the turnovers an aggressive (and undisciplined) defense generates don’t make up for a blindingly bad offense. The Raptors have had an unbalanced assortment of players for several years now, and it’s time to balance it out. It’s time to give up the ideology and start looking at what works. I’m hoping the failure of the last three years has brought a fresh perspective.
(STICK WITH THE PLAN, GROW THROUGH MISTAKES)
I see what you’ve done here, Brendan. Sneaky, sneaky. Very sneaky.
Seems like someone’s got a whole lot of beef braising in the Dutch Oven of Animosity with Raptors executive. Shall I reveal to the audience what this thinly veiled bias is actually alluding to: MASAI’S FAMED EXPERIMENT IS AN UTTER FAILURE AND THEY SHOULD START OVER, DO YOU AGREE? (Editor’s note: Adon, please, my bias is hardly what I would call thinly veiled).
Well, Brendan, I refuse to engage in such a dichotomy. What I will say is, I’m not convinced this team’s reached its ceiling entirely. And, therefore, that the past approach to how they’ve drafted was a failure.
Of course, one cannot just draft simulacrums of archetypes over and over either. It’s a careful balance. One that must be accomplished in the face of entropy. So much of teambuilding is uncontrollable and uncertain and nonlinear and chaotic. Injuries, development jumps, angry mistresses, curmudgeonly coaches. One minor flare up can change the entire course of a franchise. I believe in this team’s ideology and trust that whoever they draft is a part of a larger plan insomuch that they can actualize one
3. *ring ring*, it’s Portland calling. They want to give Toronto the third pick and Anfernee Simons (with filler) for Pascal Siakam. Scoot Henderson is on the board. Would you want Masai to accept?
(PACK HIS BAGS, RENEW HIS PASSPORT)
Love ya, P… But if Scoot Henderson is still sitting in that green room when the pick is offered to Toronto; I’d drive you to Pearson Airport myself… and I live in British Columbia.
(SCOTT x SCOOT? NOT ON MY WATCH)
Hard no. Scoot seems like a special, franchise altering guard; but so did Fultz, Suggs, Barrett & Lonzo. Pascal is a two time all nba player who might not be done improving. If you get a guy like Scoot, you are hoping to pair him with spicy. Is Pascal perfect? Absolutely not. Is he a Robin to a Batman? Probably. Do you trade Robin in hopes that you might get a Batman? Never. Robins are hard to find.
(LONG TERM UPSIDE > PERSONAL FEELINGS)
I think Scoot is a phenomenal talent and the chance to pair him with Scottie is simply too good to pass up. I love Pascal with all my heart, but I also think he would be a tremendous fit next to Lillard and would immediately become the best player Dame has ever shared the court with.
Yes. Siakam as the best player on this team gets you nowhere. Siakam in an Aaron Gordon role does
Woof that was hard to say.
Two reasons. One, Pascal is close to his most valuable after, essentially, b2b All-NBA seasons. Two, Scoot.
I don’t think this current rendition of the Raptors is kaput. I do think Scoot could become a perennial All-Star. He, alongside Scottie, would lead a new Raptor era. Add the potent Simons to the mix and we suddenly have a young lively backcourt to accompany a promising core of Scottie, Precious, O.G, maybe Poetl, the 13th pick, and whoever Gary, Boucher, or FVV might fetch.
I’d mourn the loss of Pascal and welcome that new bunch of precocious hoopers. It’d be a complicated couple of days for me and my family…
4. Would you still take that deal if Scoot is off the board? If so, who would you take at 3? If not, what would you change about the deal, if anything?
(BLOW IT UP FOR BRANDON)
Brandon Miller is still an outstanding prospect, and another frontcourt mate who would be a fantastic fit next to Scottie due to his positional versatility, ball handling skills, and sharpshooting prowess. I think that you maybe try and squeeze something else out of Portland if Scoot isn’t there, but I ultimately make the deal and take Miller — because I think the Raptors badly need to start up a new timeline around Scottie rather than paying Fred and Pascal and locking themselves into more years of this core.
(KEEP THE FORWARD CORE INTACT)
I’d be interested in trading anyone not named Pascal or Scottie for Scoot, but no one else is worth the risk. I’m confident that Masai and Bobby will hit hard enough on the 13th pick with their draft history. Last year was bad, but if this franchise starts to panic it’s going to get a lot worse.
(SCOOT OR BUST)
All due respect to Brandon Miller, who should be a great player at the next level, this is not a deal I would take for anyone aside from Scoot.
(DICK: A PLAYER WHO CAN STROKE IT)
Not Amen Thompson because he can’t shoot and I don’t have the patience for that to come around, if it ever even does. This will be a reach and maybe the Raptors can trade down to get him, and this is my KU bias talking but what about Gradey Dick? When Bill Self calls you the greatest shooter he’s signed at Kansas, that says something. Besides, the Raptors have had enough of the athletic type, and maybe they should dip into drafting guys with actual skill.
(TRUST THE PROCESS)
I trust in Masai. If he feels Brandon Miller is a generational talent too, then let’s do it. In theory, at least, Miller pairs superbly with Scottie.
5. Are there any prospects in the Raptors’ range who you wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole?
(JALEN HOOD-SCHIFI-NO THANKS)
Jalen Hood-Schifino, who I’m not high on due to his bad impact stats and poor offensive game. He would be another defensive minded prospect with questionable offensive upside. At the 13th pick, he would also likely be selected over much superior players still on the board, such as Bufkin or Wallace.
(ENOUGH OF THE DEFENSIVE PROJECTS)
I understand that Bilal Coulibaly looks like a Masai guy; but the redundancy on this team is a bit out of control. We need a guard.
There are a lot of Gradey Dick fans here at Raptors Republic, and while I can absolutely see what he can bring to an offence at the next level, he is an abysmal defender right now (Editor’s note: Hey, his team defence is slept on) and is going to go through one hell of an adjustment period at the next level. I am not against the Raptors selecting Gradey Dick in a vacuum, but if the 13th pick is the only selection the team makes on draft night, I think that would be a mistake.
Anyone who needs to work on their jumper as the Raptors can’t afford to have their three-point shooting get worse. Assuming whoever they draft will play 20+ minutes on a young team and floor spacing is a must, especially if you want to keep the middle uncongested for Poetl and whoever he’s playing the PnR with.
6. Assuming the Raptors acquire another pick in the late first round, who would you want them to target?
(AFTER 27 YEARS, THE WHITE GUARD FROM SANTA CLARA GOES TO TORONTO)
I really like Brandin Podziemski as a trade-back target. He averaged 20 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists, and 1.8 steals as a 6’5 guard in his sophomore year at Santa Clara after transferring from Illinois, where he warmed the bench.
He shot 51.3% on his 8.6 two point attempts, 44% from deep on almost 6 shots per game, and 77% from the line on 4.5 attempts per game. He’s an absolute weapon and I don’t know why he’s not getting more buzz in the 10-20 range of the first round, but that could work out to the Raptors’ advantage if they make a savvy move. I would have liked to have written more about him if I had the time.
(BRING THE SCARBOROUGH KID HOME)
I hope they do this (Editor’s note: Hey, so do I). I love Leonard Miller. The story is great and bringing in a guy from the G-League Unite is a great idea considering they are playing NBA level talent.
So much of it depends on who they’ve already selected, but if Maxwell Lewis out of Pepperdine is available, the Raptors should jump at the chance to take him. Judah Mintz, Ricky Council IV, Jordan Walsh, and Jett Howard are other names worth considering too.
Jett Howard or Colby Jones, almost entirely for their shooting. We need someone who isn’t looking to be a hero and can slot into a role and do it well. Rookies are great for that, and rookies who want to hone their shooting while emulating guys like Kyle Korver is a bonus. We don’t need multi-dimensional players all the time, single-dimensional specialists are also a thing that works.
7. Assuming no other moves, who do you want the Raptors to take with the 13th overall pick on draft night?
(THE BIG THREE)
Cason Wallace and Gradey Dick are 5 and 6 on my big board respectively. Both are supposedly in that 9-15 range that the Raptors are locked into. Either one would be a home run in my opinion. Kobe Bufkin is another guy I would really root for.
(THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
I’m not sure he falls to the raptors but I really like Cason Wallace.
(DREAM OF BLACK, DIE WITH WALLACE)
I highlighted my reasons for wanting Anthony Black on the Raptors in a previous article, but I highly doubt he’ll fall to 13. If Cason Wallace is available, I think he’s too solid to pass up.
(BILAL IS GONNA BOOM)
Bilal Coulibaly looks OK but it’s such a crapshoot, and it’s amazing how much I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to the draft. I picked him because his shot doesn’t suck, he’s confident taking it, and from what I’ve read is an excellent defender. All this points to a proper 3-and-D player. Again, I’m going for a specialist in this draft if we’re not picking at #3.
8. Who do you think the Raptors will take with the 13th overall pick on draft night?
(PROBABLY A GUARD. PROBABLY A DEFENDER.)
Kobe Bufkin’s camp has been silent. It’s rumoured that he received a promise somewhere in the lottery, with many theorizing that it came from Toronto due to their need for a player with his skills, and the fact that he hasn’t been taking any workouts outside of the lottery. There’s also mutual interest reported between Toronto and Cason Wallace. At the same time, a majority of outlets are also mocking Jalen Hood-Schifino to Toronto. We saw a similar pattern in 2020 when Malachi Flynn was suddenly mocked to Toronto at 29 by a few reputable draft sites leading up to the draft.
Anyway, one of those guys. I’ll put money on Cason if I have to pick one.
(ONLY THING LEAKING AROUND HERE IS HAWKINS’ WET JUMPER)
This is hard because “draft experts” are generally very bad at keeping tabs on the raptors so we should all expect the unexpected. That said, all we can do is choose from the same list of guys on every mock draft site….so I’m going with Jordan Hawkins.
(THE USUAL SUSPECTS + BILAL)
If everything stays as is, whoever is available out of Bilal Coulibaly, Cason Wallace, or Kobe Bufkin end up becoming Raptors.
(ABOVE THE PAY GRADE)
9. Let’s hear a wild non-Raptors prediction for draft night.
(KAT’S IN THE CRADLE)
I think Karl Anthony Towns gets moved somewhere. Minnesota really screwed themselves with that Gobert trade, hey?
Also, despite all the smoke around the 2nd or 3rd picks being traded, I think those picks stay with their current teams through the end of the night.
We get a Dame trade to Miami trade. Wilder? Zion gets traded to the Hawks? Wilder?! Adam Silver announces that the league is expanding to Mexico City and Seattle in 2025. (Editor’s note: Free my Vancouver Grizzlies, man).
(AH, A MAN OF CULTURE)
Not exactly wild by any stretch, but I think Dariq Whitehead goes a lot higher than most mocks anticipate.
(A RAPTORS PREDICTION ANYWAY)
The Raptors pull off a trade that firmly takes them into a youth-movement rebuild phase.
(POVERTY FRANCHISE SHENANIGANS)
Minnesota is OVER the delusional Karl Anthony Towns and wants to recoup some picks. Charlotte’s new owner wants to win games.
CHARLOTTE receives: KAT
MINNY receives: Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre Jr., James Bouknight, #2 2023 first round pick, and future picks