As the NBA season winds to a close the 2021 NBA Draft has begun to take centre stage for teams like the Toronto Raptors.
If the Raptors lose on Thursday night to the Chicago Bulls they’ll clinch the seventh spot in the NBA lottery odds and a 31.9% chance at landing a top-four pick in this year’s draft. Being seventh in the standings means, at least for now, that most mock drafts will have Toronto drafting at No. 7. While that makes sense before the lottery is finalized, the Raptors only have a 19.8% chance of getting the seventh pick and there’s a very good chance they’ll be drafting either much higher up the draft or a little bit later.
Thanks to Bleacher Report and draft expert Jonathan Wasserman, we can take a look at maybe the perfect situation for Toronto in which the Raptors jump all the way up to the No. 2. pick
The Toronto Raptors select Evan Mobley from the University of Southern California
There may not be a player better suited for the Raptors in this year’s class than USC’s Evan Mobley. He mixes the kind of high-end talent that every team is looking for with the kind of big-man size Toronto is thirsting for. He’s a 7-foot, 215-pound versatile big who can basically do it all on the basketball court.
“There’s a real argument that Mobley is the most intriguing true big to enter the draft since Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015, or if you’re feeling bold, Joel Embiid in 2014, and he’s built a sneaky, if not popular, case as an alternative option at No. 1,” Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo wrote. “Mobley looks like the type of mobile shot-blocker and space-eraser you can build a defense around, with overwhelming length and exceptional instincts, rarely fouling and playing a mature, composed game most nights. The big variable here lies on offense, where Mobley has always been an excellent ball-handler and passer for his size, but falls something short of being a No. 1 option. Mobley can be too deferential sometimes, and while there’s much more substance to his game than volume offense—he’s blossomed as a playmaker and projects to shoot the three effectively—he’ll be more comfortable playing next to ball-dominant teammates than shouldering the load, at least in the early part of his career. His long reach makes it difficult to alter his shot in the paint, and he’s a steady finisher, but quality touches often have to be manufactured for him. But even if Mobley levels out as a second or third offensive option, noting his probable defensive impact, you’ve got a special prospect.”
Considering his light frame it might take a little while for Mobley to develop into that all-star caliber centre many see in him. Even in Toronto’s system he likely wouldn’t be a major difference-maker from year one, but with some time to develop, he certainly seems like he’d be a perfect fit alongside Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam for many years to come.