Undrafted guard Markquis Nowell – who set an NCAA tournament record for assists (19) on Kansas State's Elite 8 run – has agreed to a two-way NBA contract with the Toronto Raptors, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 23, 2023
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There’s growing sentiment Toronto star Pascal Siakam — who’s on an expiring deal — would not re-sign with a team who attempts to trade for him as his preference is to remain with the Raptors, sources tell @NBAonTNT, @BleacherReport.
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13. Toronto Raptors
Gradey Dick | 6-foot-6, forward | 19 years old | Kansas
Vecenie’s ranking: 16.
Dick seems like one of the safest bets we’ve seen in a while to be a genuinely good floor spacer in the NBA. His shooting mechanics, basketball IQ and overall comfort level as a player who can score without needing the ball in his hands constantly projects extremely well toward the NBA, regardless of situation. He can play in a ball-movement-heavy scheme or in a heliocentric scheme where one player dominates the ball. Guys like this who can create their offense simply by moving without the ball and finding dead spaces in the defense are often worth their weight in gold on offense if they can convert 3s. Even if he’s not the one making shots, he has to be guarded, which opens space for everyone else. The defense must improve. There are signs he could get to an adequate level in time, but there are significant flaws that could crater his game on that end if things don’t go right. The offensive game has potential to be so positive in how it impacts his team that he had to be taken somewhere in the top 20. If the defense breaks right, he could be seen as something of a steal near the end of the lottery. Being able to hold his own on defense would make him a starter in the NBA. But there are some improvement areas he needs to work through before he reaches that level.
Hollinger’s analysis: A bit of a surprise given the names that been rumored for Toronto heading into this exercise, but given the Raptors’ shooting issues it hardly seems as a surprise. Dick was also my highest rated player here aside from Kobe Bufkin and the still-sliding Whitmore. Dick has a good size and a nice perimeter ga BUT CAN WE TALKA BOUT THE SUIT OH MY GOODNESS a shimmering cardinal bringing all the bling to Brooklyn.
It’s a lot to expect that a slim 19-year-old can alter that trajectory as a rookie, but his ability to shoot from beyond the arc at the college level was rare, especially for a player who stands six-foot-eight and has more in his bag than just standing at the three-point line and letting it fly.
“He’s not just a shooter,” said Raptors general manager Bobby Webster. “I think he knows how to play off the ball. He knows how to make backdoor cuts. He can pass well, he rebounds well, so I think he’s, you know, more of a well-rounded player even though he’s probably going to get pegged early as just a shooter… I think that was more of the appeal that he could do all the other things too.”
Dick converted his threes at a 40 per cent rate with Kansas while getting up nearly six attempts per game. Dick also showed some ability in cutting and finishing as he shot 48.4 per cent from inside the arc. He shot 54 per cent on threes taken off the dribble, which was the best in college basketball according to ESPN.
And he’s not shy. He was the toast — and often toasted — on social media for his suit jacket, diamond chain and sunglasses combination, and his videos on TikTok are amusingly goofy. He’s not shy, and he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
“I’m really just getting across that I’m going to be myself in everything that I do,” Dick said. “I’m never going to go into something and try to be someone who I’m not, like walk in the tunnel with a stone face and try to be too cool for anything. I’ll never be like that and I’m never gonna lose that, ever. Go there, have a fun time. That’s when I have the most fun in life, when I’m playing basketball and am able to show my emotions.”
He shares an agency with Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, and they’ve already connected — they have ties through the Florida basketball scene where Dick played his last two years of high school. Dick is optimistic he’ll be able to integrate into his new team quickly, on and off the floor.
It’s not a rookie’s job to fix a team’s culture or chemistry — there were questions around both issues on the Raptors last season — but Dick is determined to fit in.
“I think it’s just my selfless mindset and attitude… I think when a team plays selflessly it just makes the whole season a lot more fun,” said Dick. “I really feel coming into this organization and whatever role the coach gives me, I’m perfectly fine with. It’s just basketball at the end of the day. I just love to be on the court. I’m going to do everything in my power to protect that role and really just have fun doing it.”
With the future of the team so uncertain, you might as well just take the guy you believe in the most, and deal with fit once a pick is truly able to contribute to a team.
That is not to say that the Raptors didn’t have Kansas sharp-shooting wing Gradey Dick, who they eventually selected with the 13th pick, at the top of their board when their pick came around. A pair of guards with more playmaking in their games, Kobe Bufkin and Jalen Hood-Schifino, were still available, as was the evening’s big faller, Cam Whitmore, who was being discussed as a top-five pick for most of the draft process. There was no super-long prospect with a lack of shooting, the type of player the Raptors have focused on in recent years, but there were more athletic, and rawer, prospects available.
Picking Dick is, at the very least, an admission that something had to change about the types of prospects the Raptors were bringing in. Over the past decade, the Raptors have taken a lot of prospects with mediocre shooting track records and turned them into passable ones, but that has slowed in recent years. In both of the last two years, the Raptors finished 27th in the league in true shooting percentage, which factors in the extra value of 3-pointers as well as free throws. At some point, you have to get some natural shot-makers into the building.
It is also a sign that the Raptors might be inclined to keep their three versatile forwards — Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby and Scottie Barnes — together. Things could change, but draft night would have been the most sensible time for either of the veterans to move.
“I think we have talked about finding those big, versatile wings,” Raptors general manager Bobby Webster said. “Those are the hardest to find, and maybe this is like a complementary thing to fit around them. I don’t know if there is a perfect order to it.”
All of which is to say: The best version of Dick fits rather simply around big forwards who aren’t necessarily ace shooters.
Dick has a case as the draft’s top shooter with his three-point accuracy and shot-making versatility. Given how effective he is shot-making off the ball, he may not need to develop into a reliable creator to score in volume.
He wore a draft night outfit that paid homage to the Wizard of Oz — “That’s exactly why I wore this,” he said of the suit — and he does comic turns on TikTok. He seems a garrulous young man fully confident in his own personality.
On a Raptors roster that lacked some of the joie de vivre that past teams had, Gradey Dick might help rekindle some of the spirit team president Masai Ujiri suggested was missing last season.
And, oh yeah, he can shoot the stuffing out of the basketball as well. Never forget that.
“I think you always want chemistry and camaraderie and I think we’ve been talking about it all off-season, just energy and excitement,” Raptors general manager Bobby Webster said after making Dick the 13th pick in Thursday’s NBA draft. “But I think the basketball has to be there first.”
Dick, a six-foot-eight Kansas native, appears to have the one skill the Raptors lacked most of all last season. He was, in his one year at college, a deadly three-point shooter and, while he’s more well-rounded, it was the tipping point.
“I think we had Gradey in kind of his own his own group (of possible picks),” Webster said. “He’s not just a shooter. I think he knows how to play off the ball. He knows that how to make backdoor cuts, he can pass well, he rebounds well, so I think he’s more of a well-rounded player even though he’s probably going to get pegged early as just a shooter.”
The personable teenager presents himself as someone who just enjoys life. The Oz-inspired outfit came about because he was born and educated in Kansas. (“It’s Dorothy from Wizard of Oz. I’m from Kansas, she’s from Kansas. I’ve got her little slippers in my coat.”)
“I’m going to be myself in everything that I do,” he said on a Zoom call with Toronto reporters. “I’m never going to go into something and try to be someone who I’m not, like walk in the tunnel with a stone face and try to be too cool for anything …
“Go there, have a fun time. That’s when I have the most fun in life, when I’m playing basketball and am able to show my emotions. I’m excited (to play) with a guy like Scottie (Barnes), I think our personalities will get along really well.”
“He’s not just a shooter. I think he knows how to play off the ball,” Webster continued. “He knows how to make backdoor cuts, he can pass well, he rebounds well, so I think he’s more of a well-rounded player even though he’s probably going to get pegged early as just a shooter.”
On the Raptors, Dick’s lack of on-ball shot creation shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam can create shots for others. VanVleet can do the same if he’s back with Toronto. The Raptors just need Dick whizzing around off the ball and nailing catch-and-shoot jumpers at an above-average rate.
“He’s fearless, but not to the point where he is reckless,” Andy Mitts of Blue Wings Rising said of Dick’s offense. “He has absolutely no problem with stepping into a deep shot or pump-faking to then drive into the lane. He can do so many things, and do them well, especially with time to learn. And, of course, that funky shot release makes it a lot harder to guard him, which helps open things up.”
The questions about Dick come on the defensive side. His size should make him serviceable but his lack of quickness created problems for Kansas at times.
“He’s a smart positional defender,” said Raptors general manager Bobby Webster. “Obviously that is kind of where his IQ comes in. He knows where he is. He will probably tell you he’s limited to some extent one-on-one with the high-level athletes, but he played in the Big 12 so he’s played against the top kids his entire high school and college career so I think he knows how to play against guys that may be bigger or faster”
Barring a significant roster shakeup this summer, Dick isn’t likely to be a starter for Toronto next season. He should, however, see significant playing time as a bench wing, playing alongside Trent and Precious Achiuwa on the second unit.
NBA on TSN analyst Jack Armstrong shared his assessment of shooting guard Gradey Dick, who the Raptors selected with the 13th pick in the NBA Draft, and weighed in on the report that Pascal Siakam wants to remain a Raptor.
Also a focus was a better locker room.
Fortunately for the Raptors Dick addresses both.
His bona fides as a shooter go back to his high school days. The 2021 Gatorade Player of the Year in the U.S., Dick has been a scorer at every level he has ever played.
Those who know him though paint a picture of not just a guy who knows how to consistently put the rock in the hole, but a guy whose up-beat disposition lifts everyone around him.
His sense of fun was readily apparent on draft night when he arrived at the draft in a sparkling ruby red suit jacket he said was an homage to fellow Kansas icon Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz.
Kansas head coach Bill Self laughed knowingly at the antics of his one and down sharpshooter.
“That’s one thing about Gradey,” Self said. “He wasn’t trying to be the best-dressed guy there. He was trying to be the guy who got the most hits on his social media (platforms).”
Not surprisingly Gradey has already connected and actually face timed with Raptors forward Scottie Barnes. The two share the same representation and got to know each other a little at a pre-draft camp in Santa Barbara last summer.
Like Dick, Barnes is very much into his own branding through social media and a guy with a positive outlook who loves basketball and makes no bones about the fact that he has fun playing it.
Finding a fit in Toronto should not be a problem for Dick.
Dick’s only Toronto workout was one of his last but also the one that made the biggest impression.
“I couldn’t think of a better place for me to get drafted,” Dick said. “Just the city and the people combined, it’s just amazing.”
Self has no doubt that Dick will make an immediate impact.
“He just has to be himself,” Self said. “I don’t think he has to be anything different than who he is and that means just compete hard, be very coachable which he always is and just do the things that he has basically done. He doesn’t have to go in there and try to be anything different.
“They are going to need him to be a producer for them,” Self said. “He’ll have to take a very professional approach to it, which I know he will, and I actually think it’s a great fit for him.”
If there is one question about Dick, it’s how he’ll cope defensively as he makes the jump to the professional ranks. In the pros, there’s no hiding one’s limitations and if that happens to be your defence, chances are teams are going to attack you non-stop.