Kessler Edwards could be a second-round steal

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The Toronto Raptors draft changed when they acquired two second-round picks in the Terence Davis and Matt Thomas trades, and Masai Ujiri could snag another franchise cornerstone with some deft footwork. Pepperdine might not be a breeding ground for NBA talent, but wing Kessler Edwards looks like a very tantalizing prospect.

Playing under former Washington coach Lorenzo Romar in Malibu, Edwards improved his scoring to 17.2 points per game in his third season with the waves. Edwards was clearly the best player in this conference on a team not named the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

The Athletic (subscription required) mentions Edwards as a potential Raptors mock draft target, as he fits the mold of a versatile bench scorer and defender. However, his stock is rising, so Toronto needs to be proactive in trading for him if they want to add a mid-major player instead of a player from a conference like the Big Ten.

Edwards could give the Raptors the perfect bench player, which is a necessity considering the flotsam that ate up tons of minutes over the course of the 2020-21 season. Edwards has plenty worth developing, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Toronto Raptors draft: Kessler Edwards strengths

Edwards is a 6-8 forward, but his handle, post game, and ability to rise up from 3-point range are all exceptional. He has proven to be one of the best finishers at the rim in all of college basketball, and refining that trait could be his meal ticket to some early minutes at the professional level.

Edwards is a tremendous on-ball defender, as he is quick enough to handle guards and lanky enough to bother bigs. Averaging more than one steal and block per game, Edwards will be an invaluable asset for a team that likes to switch everything on defense. Toronto’s scheme fits that description.

Toronto Raptors draft: Kessler Edwards weaknesses

Edwards’ lack of tremendous explosion and athletic ability will hurt his stock dramatically. The film showed that he has trouble separating from defenders to create his own shot, and that was in the West Coast Conference. What will happen when Kawhi Leonard locks in on him?

His 3-point shooting percentage, rebounds per game, assists per game, and blocks per game totals all declined this year, which isn’t great for a player banking on his ability to wear a lot of hats in the pros.

While he did put on impressive scoring displays against teams like San Diego State and Pac-12 school Cal, he struggled in the UCLA game, and conference rivals like Gonzaga and St. Mary’s were able to hold him to a point total below his career averages. This could make it tough for him to score right away in the NBA.

How would Kessler Edwards fit on the Toronto Raptors?

Edwards is probably best suited for a small forward role in his first few years in the league, as his stringy frame might get beat up if he is forced to play power forward in smaller lineups, That could be a goal Toronto builds to, as his ability to create mismatches inside with his length is one of his best selling points.

Edwards’ limited athletic ability and age might limit his attractiveness to some front offices, but a player with his skillset could be one of the safest picks in the second round of this draft. Edwards will need some fine-tuning around the edges, but his potential as a two-way bench player is very intriguing.