After vaulting up three spots in the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery, the Toronto Raptors have officially secured themselves the fourth-overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. With tons of talent on the board this year, this could not have come at a better time for the Raptors.
With several areas in need of improvement on the current roster, as well as a potential changing of the guard within the organization, what the best use of their valuable first-round pick would be the subject of debate.
While keeping the pick could land them top talent in the draft, Toronto may find better value by moving up to select their top-ranked prospect.
As much is true on the other side of the equation as by moving down in the draft and finding a solid prospect late, and/or acquire proven talent and future assets in the process could be just as much of a positive for the current Raptors roster.
Should the Toronto Raptors keep the pick?
There is no wrong way to go with how the Raptors can handle the fourth overall pick, but let’s dive in and analyze the pros and cons of each possible option for Toronto ahead of draft night.
Pros of Keeping Pick: Proven Track Record in the Draft
With their highest draft position since selecting Andrea Bargnani with the first-overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, Toronto has spent the better portion of the 15 years since that day selecting outside of the lottery. In that time, this franchise has proven to have an elite-level ability in terms of scouting potential talent, regardless of what pick they have.
With late steals such as OG Annunoby at No. 23, Pascal Siakam at No. 27, and Norman Powell at No. 46, in recent memory, the Raptors more often than not, perform well in the draft. Now with the No. 4 spot in the draft, all signs point toward the Raptors finding the top overall talent on the board.
With Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley the likely top two in this year’s draft, the Raptors will be in a great position to select one of several prospects with star potential. In the scenario in which the Raptors decide to stay put with their pick, they are playing it safe.
There is minimal room for error with this pick and it still holds a ton of value. By not moving this pick the Raptors will not jeopardize their future in both their short-term and long-term plans, and will be able to continue their development into the 2021-22 season.
Cons of Keeping Pick: Will it be a Game Changer?
Now that it’s been established that the Raptors have a history of making the best out of any pick given, this has not always been the case for lottery selections. Draft picks made by the Raptors outside of the lottery have, more often than not, outperformed those who were taken higher.
Case in point, in 2016, Toronto held both the ninth and 27th overall picks in the draft. With the ninth overall selection, the Raptors took Jakob Poeltl, and with the 27th pick, they selected Siakam. The Raptors may have struck gold with Siakam, but Poeltl certainly did not, and has not, lived up to the expectations set around him as a top 10 pick.
This pick is only more scrutinized when looking at the amount of talent that remained on the board at the time such as Domantas Sabonis, Caris LeVert, and Dejounte Murray.
While this is an isolated incident, it has happened in other instances as well such as selecting Jonas Valanciunias fifth in 2011 and Terrence Ross eighth the following year in 2012. These two selections ended up being key members of the Raptors in the long run, but never quite lived up to expectations set as top-10 picks.
Because of the underperforming trends of top picks within Toronto history, there is a valid reason for worry in the Raptors fanbase. This could be the year the Raptors finally hit the nail on the head with their high draft pick, but history always has a way of repeating itself, and hopefully, for the Raptors faithful, this is not the case in 2021.
We’re looking for game-changers with this pick.