The Toronto Raptors might not have won the lottery, but they will pick No. 4 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft. It’s an absolutely massive win for front office head Masai Ujiri after a sorely disappointing 27-win 2020-21 campaign.
Let’s take a look at all the Raptors’ picks and figure out which prospects they’d be best suited to take near the top in this draft preview.
Toronto Raptors 2021 NBA Draft picks
- First round, 4th pick
- Second round, 46th pick (from Memphis)
- Second round, 47th pick (from Golden State)
Toronto Raptors mock draft
- Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham, guard, Oklahoma State
- Houston Rockets: Jalen Green, guard, NBA G-League
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley, center, USC
- Toronto Raptors: Jalen Suggs, guard, Gonzaga
- Orlando Magic: Scottie Barnes, forward, Florida State
Toronto Raptors draft Jalen Suggs
This could very well be the most-ideal scenario for Toronto depending on the status of pending free agent wing Gary Trent Jr. We know the Raptors want to retain Trent after acquiring him in a deadline deal from the Portland Trail Blazers for Norman Powell. Even if Trent Jr. returns, the idea of getting a traditional two-guard to team up with the smallish Fred VanVleet moving forward makes a ton of sense.
As a freshman for the Bulldogs, Suggs averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals on 50% shooting. If Toronto does stick with the fourth pick, Suggs makes a ton of sense next to Fred VanVleet.
Toronto Raptors draft Evan Mobley
With the top-three guards off the board at four (less-than-ideal scenario for the Raptors), I’d expect them to consider trading out of this spot. If not, Mobley is the obvious value pick here. Toronto didn’t have a traditional center start more than 31 games a season ago. That came in the form of veteran Aron Baynes. It has an obvious need here next to Pascal Siakam.
That’s where Mobley comes into play. He’s one of our consensus top-four players in the draft and offers even more upside than 2020 No. 2 pick James Wiseman, according to several draft gurus around the Association.
A top-three recruit in 2020, the 7-foot Mobley more than lived up to that with USC. He averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks on 58% shooting as a freshman. He’s also drawn comparisons to former Raptors great Chris Bosh.
The former top recruit has both the shooting ability and playmaking prowess to be an eventual All-Star at the NBA level. He’s also about as pro-ready of a talent as you’re going to find in the 2021 NBA Draft. This makes too much sense for Toronto if it doesn’t trade out of the fourth selection.
Toronto Raptors go with experience, draft Scottie Barnes
Barnes is seemingly flying up the draft boards following an impressive freshman season with the Florida State Seminoles. There’s certainly a lot to like about the forward’s game and ability to make an immediate impact on the defensive end of the court. He’s also toolsy on offense for such a big man.
“You rarely see a player that is 6-foot-9, 225 pounds with a 7-foot-2 wingspan that can handle the ball, read defenses and make passes the way the Florida State freshman can,” Kyle Irving of NBA.com noted in his scouting report of Barnes. “He’s not just a forward that can make the right reads with his back to the basket by finding cutters around him. He will bring the ball up the floor and initiate the offense, using purposeful dribble moves to navigate ball screens and create open looks for his teammates.”
That’s another aspect of this potential fit. He’d slide in at the three next to Pascal Siakam, offering a tremendous amount of versatility for such a young player. If the Raptors are still in win-now mode and don’t trade the fourth pick, Barnes might make the most sense.
Toronto Raptors trade scenarios in the 2021 NBA Draft
It’s not yet known what Raptors president Masai Ujiri plans to do this offseason. Most recently, reports indicate that star forward Pascal Siakam could be on the move with the Golden State Warriors linked to the veteran. If that were to happen, it’d be a clear indication that Toronto is set to start anew with a rebuild. Said trade would likely net Toronto the seventh pick and Andrew Wiggins, among other assets.
Purely hypothetical, but the Philadelphia 76ers might be interested in parting ways with Ben Simmons for the fourth pick. Another scenario here might include Toronto moving down lower in the lottery while adding both a youngster and a veteran in hopes of remaining relevant back east. As noted above, the top-four selection is valuable. The Orlando Magic, picking fifth and eighth overall, could offer up the latter of those selections to Toronto for the fourth pick. In turn, Toronto brings in both future draft capital and a veteran like Terrence Ross or even Wendell Carter Jr.
Toronto Raptors draft preview: A lot of options
Again, it’s all dependent on Masai Ujiri’s offseason plans and whether he’s looking to compete next season. If that is indeed the case, going with someone like Jalen Suggs at four might not make much sense. Even then, Ujiri didn’t build up his reputation by looking short term. Suggs is a consensus top-four prospect and might offer the most upside in the loaded class. You take him if he’s available. If not, Mobley has to be the selection at four.
On the other hand, trading down from the fourth selection (or moving it altogether) for a star player could also make sense. VanVleet and Siakam remain tremendous building blocks despite some struggles this past season. Toronto is not far off from being a playoff contender. Give these two another star, and improvements will be the name of the game in Canada.