Raptors & 2018 NBA draft: staring through the glass at shiny objects

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 17: Boban Marjanovic
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 17: Boban Marjanovic /

The Raptors don’t have a first-round draft pick in June. Is there a way to acquire one, and would the price be worth paying?

The Toronto Raptors went from wealth to poverty in a few short weeks last spring. I don’t mean that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment needs a charity concert hosted on their behalf; the Raptors owners personally and corporately are worth billions. Rather, I’m referring to Masai Ujiri having traded away the team’s 2018 NBA draft assets. As a result, a strong first-round crop won’t have any representative putting on a Raptors cap. Is this OK?

We’ll take a quick look at what happened to all our 2018 picks. A first-round pick was attached to Terrence Ross when he was moved to Orlando for Serge Ibaka. A pair of second-rounders went to Phoenix, as did Jared Sullinger (another example, along with Anthony Bennett, of wasted potential) for P.J. Tucker. Then our other first-round pick was attached to the DeMarre Carroll salary dump to Brooklyn (otherwise no deal, I’d wager). What remains is the #32 pick – in other words, not much.


There’s an argument to be made that says, in effect, who cares? At current course and speed, even if the Raptors had not made the Brooklyn deal, the retained pick would be #27. Sure, Masai managed to “steal” Pascal Siakam at this spot in 2016, and OG Anunoby at #23 in 2017, but expecting winners with the lower numbers every year is absurd. The difference between the #27 and #32 picks is…not a whole lot.

I defended all of these deals when they were made. The Ibaka and Tucker trades were essential steps towards post-season readiness, and the Carroll deal had to happen in order to create salary cap space. I’m certainly not changing my tune. But when it comes to building our team, I’m not above trying to have my cake and eating it too. Can Masai somehow stickhandle his way into the middle (let’s not get crazy) of the draft without giving up too much?

Who’s got multiple picks?

Atlanta has three first-rounders (at the moment, so mileage may vary: #3, 25, 28). While the Hawks need a lot of help, can they really cope with that many new kids? They will have oodles of cap space following this season, and might be willing to entertain getting actual players in return for a pick. I highly doubt the lottery pick will be made available, and the others may be too far down to bother with.

More from Raptors Rapture

Cleveland famously has a lottery pick, which is the Nets one via Boston from the Kyrie Irving deal. The Cavs also have their own, currently #24. Might they be willing to dump the later one?

Alternatively, either team might make a deal with the Raptors similar to the one which netted Toronto the services of Norman Powell. If Masai and his brains trust are in love with a player who’s slipped into the twenties like OG Anunoby did, they could strike a deal with Atlanta in which the Hawks draft and trade the Raps’ fave. Perhaps we surrender Jonas Valanciunas and our second-rounder. Presto! A kid our people like and some cap space.

Work with me here, Rapture Nation. There’s almost no limit to the possibilities.