The Toronto Raptors mock draft plans have started a bit earlier than usual in this laughably unlucky season, as Masai Ujiri is likely staring down a Top 10 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Players like Arkansas’ Moses Moody, Kentucky’s Isaiah Jackson, or Duke’s Jalen Johnson could all end up north of the border.
Johnson was one of the most hyped recruits in the 2020 class, but an up-and-down season at Duke that led to him opting out of the remainder of the year in February has done a slight number on his draft stock. Even with that, Johnson is expected to be picked in the lottery.
The Raptors are in need of some size down low, but the massive drop-off in talent among big men after USC’s Evan Mobley in this draft could make things tough for Toronto. However, if a player like Johnson fell into their laps, Toronto might be forced to snatch him up given the value he represents.
RookieWire’s consensus mock draft, which aggregates mocks from ESPN, Bleacher Report, and others, matched Johnson with the Raptors, sending him to Toronto by way of the No. 8 overall pick in the draft.
Toronto Raptors mock draft: Would Jalen Johnson be a fit?
Johnson’s biggest issues right now stem from an inconsistent jump shot. His shooting percentages are decent, but an examination of his tape shows how uncomfortable and passive he looked when he was far away from the basket. This can be worked on, however, and passing on someone with his skillset because of that issue would be foolish.
Johnson has legit point-forward potential, as the 6-9, 220-pound power forward in name alone is comfortable getting to the rim and making some incisive passes. A quality rebounder and interior finisher, double-digit scoring as a rookie is by no means out of the question for Johnson.
Johnson’s defense is one of his best attributes. Able to guard three different positions both on the perimeter and in the post, Johnson’s 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game hint at the fact he could make an immediate impact on that end.
Johnson might not be a full-time center, but he could be a new starting power forward if Pascal Siakam is to stay at center in a smaller lineup configuration. If not, he and Chris Boucher could make for a filthy 1-2 punch off of the bench.
The Raptors have enough cap space to bring in a new center, so drafting the best player available and going from there looks like the most prudent strategy for Ujiri. Johnson could turn into a two-way star given his unique player profile, and he could solidify Toronto’s frontcourt for years to come if handled correctly.