The Toronto Raptors are in the lottery for the first time since 2016, when they had the New York Knicks’ pick that was acquired from the Andrea Bargnani trade. This is also their first time that they are using their lottery pick since 2012.
They are no strangers to the draft lottery, as the Raptors participated in this 14 times in their 26-year history.
There were some good picks and some bad picks during those 14 selections, but plenty of those picks have revolved around the center and power forward positions. If they end up getting lucky, one of the better prospects will fall into their laps. If they get even luckier, they’ll shoot right up near the top of the order.
Since the number one thing that the Raptors need is a center, let’s look at some lottery picks in the Raptors’ history to see if they should draft one.
The Toronto Raptors have had success drafting big men.
Picking Chris Bosh with the fourth pick of the 2003 NBA draft was one of the best selections that the Toronto Raptors ever made. In his seven years that he spent in Toronto, Bosh averaged 20.2 points per game, 9.4 rebounds per game, and 2.2 assists per game.
Bosh is a perfect big in the modern NBA. If the Raptors can find a Bosh type of player, they should go after him. USC’s Evan Mobley is looking mighty intriguing at this point…
Former top pick Andrea Bargnani should be a quality big in today’s NBA, to a certain extent. While he never reached the lofty heights expected of him, Bargnani did become a quality scorer in the NBA, and that is exactly what the Raptors could use right now. If a big matches those criteria, why not try to get him early?
When Jonas Valanciunas was drafted with the fifth pick of the 2011 draft, he was considered the Raptors’ future face. He didn’t live up to ALL of the hype, but he did become a solid center despite the fact his skills are a bit old school.
His game does not fit in today’s NBA as well as the prior two, but Valanciunas adapted and became a solid who can play big minutes and help teams in meaningful games.
The Raptors have drafted big men well over the last few years, and Masai Ujiri should try to add the next
What should the Toronto Raptors do with their pick?
Mobley is the obvious pick. Other than Mobley, some players that the Raptors could snag include Texas’ Kai Jones, Kentucky’s Isaiah Jackson, Turkey’s Alperen Sengun, and Real Madrid’s Usman Garuba later in the draft. Ujiri has several chances to bolster the frontcourt.
Mobley is the guy that Raptor fans should want because he’s a center that does everything that will help the Raptors next season. He’s an elite defender who can be an anchor of the defense. Mobley has even earned some Bosh comparisons. Unless the Raptors can get a top-four pick, Mobley is not likely to fall to the seventh pick.
If all else fails, look to free agency. There are centers available like Serge Ibaka, restricted free agent Jarrett Allen, Cody Zeller, and Richaun Holmes. They’re not Mobley, but they are serviceable bigs that can help Toronto.
Again, if the Raptors can find their way to draft Mobley or Kai Jones, who I think has star potential, they should pick them up. If they can’t draft any of those players, then draft a high-floor player like Arkansas’ Moses Moody instead and focus on getting a big in free agency.