Charles Bassey is a perfect Masai Ujiri NBA Draft pick


Members of Toronto Raptors draft Twitter and some of the most passionate NBA Draft diehards have heard the name Charles Bassey plenty over the last few months. A strong center from Western Kentucky, Bassey has been projected anywhere from the end of the lottery to the top of the second round.

The minute this season from hell ended, Raptors fans have been praying to move up in the draft lottery. The seventh-best odds at the top pick and a clear five-man draft has Canadian draft junkies riled up like a bad gambler.

That said, we have to be prepared for life to hand us another smack in the face. Let’s say for the sake of argument our draft pick falls to 10, or even if it holds at 7, we shouldn’t close the door on some draft night chicanery.  Outside of the top five and the draft is more or less a snow globe.  Shake the names up however you like, it’s mostly a matter of preference and opinion.

Could we trade down from 10? Or maybe package our multiple second-rounders, keep our lottery pick, and try to snag another slot later in the first? Nobody knows what could happen. Nobody knows who will rise and who will fall come draft night, and that’s why it’s important to keep an eye on a guy like Bassey.

Toronto Raptors Draft: Charles Bassey Strengths

Mar 12, 2021; Frisco, Texas, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers center Charles Bassey (23) is guarded by UAB Blazers forward Simeon Kirkland (10) during the second half at Ford Center at The Star. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Bassey averaged a double-double over the course of his three years with the Hilltoppers, so production is not a concern.

A super athlete with broad shoulders and long arms, Bassey is the kind of shot blocker/rim protector that any team would love to have, but especially the Raptors. Standing 6-11 and weighing in at 235 pounds, Bassey’s agility at his size is his biggest selling point athletically.

He plays with an energy and joy that’s great to see from a guy with his physical tools. It speaks to his commitment to the game and his likely improvement over time.

There will always be a place in the league for a powerful big man, the key to Bassey’s long-term success will be what else he has in his bag. Is he more than just a great athlete? These 7-foot supermen can become stars if they add more nuanced basketball skills to their game, or else they become Bismack Biyombo.

The bright side for Bassey is that he’s already starting to add some ball skills. Not much from the perimeter, but spins and euro-steps in the lane and going downhill. It’s a start, I’ll give him that.

Toronto Raptors Draft: Charles Bassey Weaknesses

Bassey falls in line with the throwback bigs of the world. An old-school, physical big man, who won’t change your franchise by himself, but can be useful on a competent team.
It’s unclear how much finesse skill Bassey has in his game. He’s not much of a shooter, and prefers to use his power around the basket than to fake or weave or dance.

The best-case scenario for him would be a Steven Adams type, albeit with more athletic ability. He’s got good court awareness for a big guy, he’s a great athlete, likes to get deep post positioning, but not much of a shooter.

In an age where shooting is more valuable than ever, Bassey is a complete non-factor.

How would Charles Bassey fit on the Toronto Raptors?

A recently declared draft prospect, Bassey had been on mock boards for two years already before finally pulled the trigger on his NBA career. Despite completing his junior season at Western, Bassey is still young at only 20 years old. That matches the Raptors timeline of retooling and rebuilding.

He’d be a useful five-man in Toronto, the only trouble would be the clog up between him and Khem Birch in the frontcourt. Bassey brings a lot of the same tools to the table as Birch does give his energy, athleticism, defense, and mobility.

That kind of rim runner is valuable for sure, but you can’t put more than one of those types on the floor at the same time. It clogs the lane and stagnates the offense.

Still, one of the biggest reasons Raptors fans should keep an eye on Bassey is his connection with Masai Ujiri. Born in Nigeria, Bassey is a graduate of Ujiri’s own Giants of Africa training program.  Bassey was a prodigy within the program, winning MVP honors when he was just 14 years old.

That kind of longstanding relationship between management and prospect makes him worthy of our attention regardless of where he’s projected to go in the draft. If Masai decides he needs this man in red and black, he’s getting him.