Including Sunday night, the Toronto Raptors have 27 games left to climb back into the playoff picture. Toronto is 11th in the East and the seventh-worst team in the NBA right now. Should the season come to an end today, they would be squarely in lottery pick territory at the 2021 NBA Draft. This could mean they could pick G Leaguers Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green.
Both Green and Kuminga were among the top basketball recruits in the country in the most recent class, but they choose the guaranteed paycheck of the NBA’s developmental league over playing for free in college. Green averaged 17.9 points and 4.1 boards per game on 46% shooting in the G League, while Kuminga tallied 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds on 39% shooting.
The last time Toronto drafted in the top ten at the Draft was in 2016 when they claimed Jacob Poeltl ninth overall. In order to keep pace with the rest of the conference, the Raptors need to knock it out of the part in the draft.
If they end up in a striking distance of both Green and Kuminga, which one would be a better fit for the Raptors?
Jalen Green would be a great fit with the Toronto Raptors
Green is a 6-6 guard with exceptional talent. He would instantly provide the Raptors with the size they lack at the guard position. For the past two seasons, the Raptors have employed two six-foot point guards in the starting lineup, making the team vertically challenged on the perimeter and lacking wingspan.
Green fixes this problem, as Kyle Lowry is probably departing Toronto in the offseason as a free agent.
He has great quickness, athleticism, ball-handling, and passing skills while remaining a quality defender. Green had perhaps his best game in the first-round playoff matchup vs Raptors 905 when he scored 30 points in a losing cause. He played 41 minutes that night, shot 11-20 from the field, dished out seven assists, and recorded five rebounds. Green also had three steals.
Ignite head coach Brian Shaw believes in the talent that is Green is jaw-dropping, as he told Marc Spears of The Undefeated.
He comes every day with that attitude that I’ve seen in some of the special young players that I’ve coached that get it right away. It’s like they don’t want to just make it to the league. They want to impact the team and make a place for themselves and be special. So, he’s always wanting to work.
I had to tell him [once] after I cut practice a little short … He said, ‘Coach, I want to be great.’ And I said, ‘You will be great. You keep that attitude but you also have to let your body rest sometimes and recover.’ He has that NBA bounce. … He has that ‘it’ factor that when you see it you say, ‘OK, I’m keeping an eye on this guy because he has a chance to be really special.’
A lineup that features Green, VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam could restore the Raptors’ defensive prowess from last season. Green would also provide another player with the potential to attack the rim with force, an aspect missing from Toronto’s offensive attack.
Jonathan Kuminga is a stellar second option for the Raptors
Green’s equally high-profile teammate, Kuminga is also an outstanding option if the Raptors are in a position to make the selection. He is another long wing type player who is athletic beyond belief. He would offer the Raptors a 6-11 wingspan. Kuminga’s leaping ability allows him to hang in the air, which helps him regain body control to finish plays.
Kuminga’s ability to finish scoring plays is aided by his ability to finish with either hand. He is also a solid playmaker creating good opportunities for his teammates. Kuminga averaged 2.7 assists per game for the Ignite. He is also very effective in both the halfcourt and in transition as he runs the floor well and moves well off the ball.
In a SI.com article, it was reported that:
The Congo native left a strong impression behind closed doors as Ignite trained in Walnut Creek, Calif.. His physical tools were never a secret. But limited in-person visibility over the course of his high school career meant much of his hype in NBA circles stemmed from word of mouth. It was still unclear exactly how Kuminga’s modus operandi would translate in a structured game setting.
The only real knock against Kuminga has been shot selection, as he only shot 38.7 percent and 24.6 percent on the 3-ball. That’s not going to cut it in Toronto.
What the Raptors should do at the draft
The Raptors really do need to focus their efforts on repairing their depleted frontcourt. They have been using Siakam at the center position. Further, Chris Boucher has played well, but is undersized and overmatched in certain situations. Often, even when healthy, Nurse is forced to use a small lineup because Aron Baynes has underperformed this season.
Should the Raptors have the opportunity to select a high lottery prospect in the 2021 draft, they should select the best player. They will have enough cap space to find a reasonable option or two to fill out the frontcourt.
If Kuminga or Green are options, the Raptors should select Green as he appears to be the more polished player at this time.