Raptors

Who Should the Raptors Draft at 59th?

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A historic season has come and gone for the Toronto Raptors. Finally getting over the hump and winning the NBA Championship, this season has been an overwhelming success. With the championship parade on Monday officially ending the season, the offseason layover is very short. Thursday night marks part one of a busy few weeks for the Raptors, with the NBA Draft.

Due to the infamous Kawhi Leonard trade in July, the Raptors don’t possess their first round pick. Instead, their only draft pick falls second to last, 59th overall. Not to say this pick doesn’t hold any value, but only 10 of the previous 49 players drafted in the 59th slot have played a minute of NBA ball. In addition, only two 2nd round picks chosen by the Raptors in the last 14 years have played in the league. With that being said, if any team could find a treasure at the bottom of the draft, it is this organization. Danny Green, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell all played major minutes for the Raptors this season as former second rounders. The Raptors have multiple pathways they can pursue with this pick, below are three possibilities.

Proven College Players

Option number one for Toronto involves finding a player who has proven success at the college level. These players often provide an elite skill or well-rounded game and can fight for an immediate rotation spot.

Jordan Bone helped lead Tennessee to a Sweet Sixteen birth as their starting point guard. He then went and dominated the NBA Combine, placing first or second in five of the six speed and agility training drills in Chicago. He also impressed with his jump shooting while there. Bone is lower on some draft boards due to his lack of natural playmaking ability at guard. Tough-nosed playmakers in Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet would be perfect players for Bone to develop behind.

Max Strus provides a skill that every NBA team searches for; long range shooting. At 6’6 with a silky smooth jumper, Strus has every opportunity to stick in the league. He was far and away the lead scoring option for DePaul last season, 3rd in the Big East in Field Goals Attempted and 1st in Minutes Played. This means that teams have yet to see him slide into a complimentary role, like he will play in the NBA. He could slide in and fill minutes in the mold of Danny Green should he leave in free agency.

Dedric Lawson was ultra productive during his one year at Kansas. Most importantly, he led the Big 12 in rebounds, and Rebounding Percentage all while averaging 19.4 points per game. Along with his evident production, Lawson’s rebounding helps fix one of the weak spots for the Raptors this season. Lawson’s issue is his poor athletic ability, but don’t put it past the Raptors’ elite training staff to help improve his agility.

International Options

With a deep roster filled with capable players, the Raptors may choose to select someone who will continue to play overseas. They may also consider a player who comes over immediately, just not from the NCAA.

Yovel Zoosman is an Israeli prospect who has been playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv since age 17. A knockdown shooter at 6’7, the Raptors could look at Zoosman in the role of an Omri Casspi, a fellow Israeli sharpshooter. He possesses great potential at the wing, but his lack of length and quickness on the perimeter may be a deterrent in the NBA.

Brian Bowen was previously a five-star recruit heading to Louisville before eligibility concerns took him to the NBL in Australia. He has fallen under the radar, but his talent remains. A 6’7 guard, Bowen can score from all three levels and provides great length at the position. He needs to put on weight and fill out his frame currently. If developed properly, Bowen could become a rare 2nd round success story.

Wild Card Selections

Sometimes picking so late in the draft can be like blindly throwing darts at a board, hoping one sticks. If you’re going up to bat so late in the game, the Raptors might as well swing for the fences.

Robert Franks is a guy that I find criminally underrated. He’s selected in few to no mock drafts, and I can’t see why. He has a prototypical NBA forward body at 6’7 with a 7’2 wingspan at 225 lbs. He shot 40% from deep on seven attempts for a horrible Washington State team where he was their only option all season. In addition, he had the highest Usage Percentage in the entire Pac-12, yet still had the highest Effective Field Goal Percentage at the same time. Even as just a stretch 4, Franks could be a productive NBA player in the right situation.

Kenny Wooten fits the way many big men are used in the modern NBA. He uses his 7’2 wingspan and elite jumping ability to block shots and catch lobs. He’s quick enough to hang with guards on the perimeter and strong enough to hold his own down low. However, he is a complete non-threat with the ball in his hands. He only took one three pointer at Oregon last season. If he could develop something resembling a mid range jumper, he could be a Serge Ibaka replacement down the line.

Moses Brown is a player you draft if you feel confident in your G-League and strength programs. At 7’3 with a 7’5 wingspan, Brown is paper-thin, but his timing for blocking shots is impeccable. He blocked almost two per game at UCLA, and his agility helped him move around in the paint. However, just looking at his 35% free throw percentage shows how far away Brown is from contributing in the NBA. At 19 years old, he may need two to three years in the G-League to become serviceable in the league. Regardless, with that size and timing, he may be worth the gamble so late in the draft.

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About Matthew Winick

Matthew Winick is an avid basketball fan both from the NBA side, as well as NCAA hoops. A native of Toronto, Ontario, he is a lifetime Raptors fan and is just now reaping the benefits. He is currently studying Sport Media at Ryerson University in Toronto, and hopes to be talking sports with the best of them in his future. You can reach him on any social media @matthewwinick.

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