2021 NFL Draft Profiles: Toronto Raptors

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The 2021 NBA Draft will take place on July 29. As the it approaches, The Game Haus will be doing draft profiles for each NBA team. Each NBA squad will be analyzed, team needs will be addressed and potential targets will be discussed.

The Toronto Raptors are the subject of today’s 2021 NBA Draft Profile.

Summary

The Raptors started out the 2020-2021 season on strange footing. Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, they were displaced from their home arena in Toronto, due to travel restrictions between Canada and the USA. Instead, they played their entire season in Tampa, Florida.

Under Nick Nurse, who won the Raptors their first-ever NBA Championship in 2019, led the team to a 27-45 record. Many injuries and fatigue surely led to a sub-par record given the expectations the franchise has raised over the past decade.  That record was their worst since 2011 and was good for bottom five in the east and bottom 10 in the entire NBA. This qualified Toronto for a lottery pick, earning the fourth overall selection.

With free agency arriving for Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, the Raptors’ 2021 NBA Draft could shape their future, including whether or not their best players are re-signed, let go or traded.

2021 Draft Picks

The Raptors have three picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.

First Round (one pick):

Pick No. 4

Second Round (two picks):

Picks No. 46 and 47

Team Needs

Rebounding: Toronto was 28th in total rebounds in 2021, third from the bottom of the barrel. Most of their struggles were failing to secure defensive rebounds, as they ranked 29th in the NBA. They were just outside the bottom 10 in offensive rebounding, so they were not much better there.

Depth: The Raptors suffered a litany of injuries during the 2021 season. Their depth was not sufficient enough in the slightest, causing a slide that resulted in a lottery pick. That means the role players need to get better quickly.

Projected Targets

Pick No. 4: Jalen Suggs, PG, Gonzaga

Despite their three picks in the draft, the fourth overall selection is pretty much the only one that matters in any kind of significant way for the Raptors. Their other picks are near the very bottom of the draft, while their first sits in the coveted top five spot. Their need for depth may lead to Toronto maybe leveraging this pick for a wealth of other, lower picks. However, this article will assume that will not happen.

Raptors 2021 draft
Suggs can replace Lowry, if that is what the Raptors want to do. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Picking Suggs is a clear look into the future. Kyle Lowry still has value as a player and is a career-long Raptor and bona fide fan favorite, but he is aging and his trade value may be at a premium. Teams like the Lakers and Clippers could use a veteran point guard presence with NBA Championship experience. Drafting a point guard like Suggs can allow Toronto to trade him for depth or future draft assets.

He was an integral part of a Gonzaga team that came a NCAA Championship Game short of a perfect season. His star shone bright in an unbelievable buzzer beater against UCLA in the Final Four. There is plenty of defensive potential to go with an impressive offensive skill set with Suggs. Picking him here is a proverbial slam dunk.

Pick No. 46: Filip Petrusev, C, Gonzaga/Serbia

A young, tall, international center is exactly what Toronto needs.

Petrusev declared for the 2020 NBA Draft, but returned to his home country of Serbia to play professionally there. He was named the West Coast Conference player of the year in 2020, averaging 17.5 points and a huge eight rebounds per game. Scoring in the middle on the second unit is what the Raptors should be searching for with such a late pick.

He does have an ankle injury, but it did not hobble him for long. Isaiah Livers may also be available here, but the team does not need a player with a history of long-term injuries. Petrusev could be a bargain this late in the draft.

Pick No. 47: R.J. Nembhard, PG/SG, TCU

With their last pick, Toronto grabs some bench scoring in R.J. Nembhard out of TCU. He is a combo guard who can stay healthy and provide efficiency in the second unit. His assist numbers grew as his college career continued. His three point shooting needs some polish, certainly, if he is going to play the two in the NBA, but he is versatile and more importantly, Nembhard is probably available at pick 47.

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