The Toronto Raptors have had a forgettable season, to say the least. The Raptors were officially eliminated from playoff contention for the first time in 8 seasons as they just couldn’t overcome what seemed like a complete tidal wave of bad luck that ruined the season before it even began. This Raptors draft will be more important than the NBA Draft has been in years.
With the season officially a wash, the focus has now shifted towards the NBA draft. The Raptors hold the seventh-best odds at the No. 1 pick with a 7.5% chance and have a 31.9% chance at a top-four pick.
The 2021 draft class is one of the deepest ones in recent memory, which bodes very well for a Raptors team that needs a franchise cornerstone to drag them out of the doldrums.
The consensus top-four prospects include Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, and Jalen Green. All of whom are seen as a tier above the rest and are expected to make huge impacts for their new teams.
If the Raptors end up picking at seven or even drop a couple of spots, they’re still in range of picking up a good prospect such as Scottie Barnes or Jalen Johnson. However, adding a top-four pick could be just what the Raptors need to become contenders in the east for years to come.
With the top four prospects in this draft far ahead of the rest of the common rabble, which of these game-changers should the Raptors prioritize. From best to worst, let’s examine them.
How should the top 4 prospects be ordered on the Raptors draft board?
1. Cade Cunningham, PG, Oklahoma State
The clear number one pick in this draft, Cade Cunningham is a nightmare for opposing teams. Standing at 6-8 and 220 pounds, Cunningham’s size paired with his playmaking and scoring ability has NBA front offices drooling over the possibility of drafting him.
Cunningham’s size allows him to play the 1-3 positions, even the 4 in small-ball situations. Cunningham would instantly become the Raptors starting point guard, keeping VanVleet at the 2-guard. This would continue the trend of the two point guard starting lineup that the Raptors have run with the last 2 seasons.
Toronto Raptors draft: Cade Cunningham can do it all.
It’s hard to watch Cunningham and not immediately see Luka Doncic. Cunningham’s playmaking ability is better than any player currently on the Raptors. He’s capable of making every pass in the book and does so with ease.
Both VanVleet and OG Anunoby would benefit greatly from Cunningham’s ability to kick it to open shooters, while Siakam would take advantage of Cunningham’s playmaking ability in the pick-and-roll.
The Raptors have struggled to find a true “closer” in the clutch since the departure of Kawhi Leonard. Cunningham is more than capable of creating his own shot and getting a bucket when counted on.
His size allows him to bully his way into the paint for easy points on smaller defenders, while his jump shot keeps defenders on their toes. In his lone college season at Oklahoma State, he shot 40% from behind the arc. His improved mid-range game shows that he’s capable of being a 3-level scorer, something that the Raptors desperately need.
On defense, Cunningham is at his best when he’s guarding wings because of his size/length. He has great athleticism for his size, but it’s a tough ask for him to defend quick/crafty guards for most of the game.
The Raptors have just a 7.5% chance at landing the number one pick, but if the lottery balls go the Raptors way, Cade Cunningham would be an easy decision for Masai Ujiri.