Should the Toronto Raptors move up to draft Alperen Sengun?

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The Toronto Raptors hold two second-round draft picks in 2021, in addition to the No. 4 overall pick. As has been the case under the watchful and guiding eye of Masai Ujiri, Raptors’ management has been doing its homework on the available talent, including players projected to go late in the lottery like Alperen Sengun.

But the projection of where talent may get selected is constantly changing. The latest expectation for July 29 is that Sengun, a 6-9 center/power-forward from Turkey, could come off the board at some point near the end of the lottery. The Ringer has him just outside the lottery, going No. 15 to the Wizards.

When he declared for the NBA Draft, ESPN ranked him 14 on their top 100 prospects list. Sengun has growing confidence in his game as he dominated the Turkish League averaging 19.2 points per game.

Sengun sounds confident in his abilities to succeed in the NBA, and his success in Turkey certainly has him on a nice trajectory. With Evan Mobley likely a pipe dream at this point, would the Raptors consider adding Sengun?

“At the beginning of the season, I didn’t think my performance would be this high, but with every passing game I felt I could do more and more, I believe that there are no limits for me to get better as a basketball player.”

How the Toronto Raptors could acquire Alperen Sengun.

If the Raptors are desperate to find frontcourt depth and feeling the urgency, they could sacrifice the fourth overall pick along with either two second-round picks or a lottery-protected future first-round pick for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s sixth and 16th picks. The Thunder own 38 draft picks between now and 2027, so their future is bright depending on who they draft.

In this Sports Illustrated article, it is discussed how OKC has the assets to move up in the 2021 draft.

In the 2021 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder own two picks just outside the lottery at No. 16 and No. 18 overall. One of the prospects who could fall in that range is Alperen Sengun who most recently played overseas in Turkey.

In this draft, the available talent at the center position is headlined by Mobley. Prospects like Sengun, promising Texas player Kai Jones, and Real Madrid standout Usman Garuba are expected to go in the first round. Should getting a center end up as the main priority, one of these players is a must for Toronto.

Why should the Toronto Raptors draft Alperen Sengun?

The most obvious flaw on the Toronto roster is that they have no organizational depth at the center position. Aron Baynes could be a free agent by July 27, and Khem Birch is a free agent who will need to be re-signed. Unless the fourth pick is used to secure a center, the Raptors must address their frontcourt later in the draft or in free agency.

The numbers don’t lie either. The team averaged 32.1 defensive rebounds in 2021, which was second-worst in the NBA.

If they have a rebounder or two in their lineup, the additional possessions result in more wins, as they averaged 111.3 while surrendering 111.7 points per game. Extra possessions mean more scoring opportunities, and Sengun averaged 9.4 rebounds per game in the Turkish Basketball Super League.

The Raptors’ lack of scoring points in the paint, with only four teams worse than the 43.6 Toronto amassed per game in 2021. Sengun would help, as he has a good back-to-the-basket game in the post, tracks offensive rebounds to the tune of averaging 4.1 per game in 2021, and is a good roller off of pick-and-roll plays allowing him to finish around the basket.

What are the benefits of drafting Alperen Sengun?

At the very worst, he would be a scoring threat for your second unit. While not yet a great individual defender, Sengun does exceptionally well tracking down and blocking opposing shots when he is the help defender on the weak side or from behind.

At 6-9 and weighing 243 pounds, Sengun can hold his own fighting for position in the post at both ends of the floor. He has a nearly complete post-game on offense, something the Raptors lacked in their frontcourt until late in the season.

Sengun also has good playmaking skills, averaging 2.5 assists per game this season. If he learns to limit turnovers (2.3 per game), his offensive ceiling is very high.

He did shoot 64.6% from the field, but only 19% on three-pointers, so his long-range game needs work. However, it’s his interior work offensively that the Raptors need immediately. His shooting mechanics and consistency can be worked on as time goes by.

It would not be hard to envision him as a potential NBA All-Star. At the worst, he is a threat to score in the paint on post play and off of pick-and-rolls. He should also be a fine addition for rebounding purposes. The Raptors gave up 9.4 offensive rebounds to opponents per game.

The Raptors could stay right where they are, and select two players at the back end of the draft who they could stash in the G-League, or go bold and package the second-round picks and get a player that could help them now. That player could be Sengun.