Raptors

Reliving the Raptors’ 2015 Draft Success

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The Toronto Raptors have been widely acclaimed to be one of the best drafting teams of the past few years, and with the 2020 NBA Draft fast approaching, fans hope the trend continues. Before the Raptors are on the clock with the 29th overall pick on November 18th, Raptors Lead will take a look at the team’s draft selections over the last five years, starting with 2015. 

Round 1, Pick 20: Delon Wright

The late first-round selections of the 2015 NBA Draft produced a surprising amount of serviceable players, including Bobby Portis (22nd), current Raptor Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (23rd), Larry Nance, Jr. (27th) and NBA Champion Kevon Looney (30th). Masai Ujiri took a chance on an older player in Delon Wright.

Wright played his first two years of college ball at the JUCO level with City College of San Francisco before transferring to Utah for his remaining two years of NCAA eligibility. At Utah, Wright averaged 15 PPG on 53.5% from the field, adding just over five assists per game. He was regarded as one of the best under-the-radar gems of the 2015 Draft, and fell to the Raptors at 20th overall, being selected after other guards like Rashad Vaughn, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne. 

During his first two seasons in Toronto, Wright only played 54 games with a few G-League stints in between. In 2017, Wright averaged 8.0 PPG as a key member of Toronto’s Bench Mob. His shooting splits fell in 2018 (46.5 to 43.3 FG%, 36.6 to 33.3 3PT%). On deadline day of the 2018-19 season, Wright, Jonas Valanciunas, CJ Miles and a 2024 second-round pick were traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for Marc Gasol. The Raptors later went on to win the NBA championship that season, while Wright was more efficient in Memphis. 

Last season, Wright signed with the Dallas Mavericks. He averaged 6.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 3.3 APG.

Draft Grade: A+ (It led to a ring)

Round 2, Pick 46: Norman Powell (Milwaukee Bucks, traded to Toronto)

After selecting Delon Wright, the Raptors acquired the draft rights to Norman Powell and a conditional 2017 first-round pick (which became OG Anunoby) from the Milwaukee Bucks for Greivis Vasquez. 

Let me write that again. 

The Toronto Raptors turned Greivis Vasquez into Norman Powell and OG Anunoby. I guess Raptors fans have a lot to thank the Bucks for. 

As we know, Powell is an integral part of the Raptors’ success. Stormin’ Norman, aka the real Playoff P, averaged 8.6 PPG during the 2018-19 regular season and had two critical performances in Games 3 and 4 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals. He has steadily improved since his first season in the NBA, when he averaged 5.6 PPG.

Last season he took the next step, averaging 16.0 PPG and winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week for averaging 31.0 PPG in three Raptors’ wins. He was the last player to receive the honor before the NBA shut down due to COVID-19. 

This kind of production from a second-round draft pick is special, and it shows the Raptors and Masai Ujiri did their due diligence when scouting the 2015 NBA Draft.

Draft Grade: A++++++++++++++++

Recap:

The Raptors’ 2015 Draft Class is one of the best for any franchise in the league within the past five years, even arguably the best. Without it, the Raptors might not have won their first NBA championship in 2019. 

Stay tuned for our recap on the 2016 Draft Class.

Follow us on Twitter @RaptorsLead for the latest Raptors news and insight.

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About Sasha Podzorov

Sasha Podzorov is a journalism student at Stony Brook University where he broadcasts volleyball, soccer and lacrosse games. He is a huge basketball and soccer fan, and a Top Gear and Jeopardy enthusiast. Connect with him on Twitter @sasha_podzorov

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