Raptors fans Should Pay Attention to the NCAA Tournament

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 17: Jalen Brunson /

For a few brief moments every March, the basketball world turns their attention away from the NBA to focus on the NCAA Tournament. Raptors fans also should pay attention.

The Toronto Raptors are recognized as one of the best in the NBA when it comes to player development. Lottery picks like Jakob Poeltl and Undrafted free agents like Fred VanVleet have contributed a great amount for the Toronto Raptors. In an upcoming talented draft class, I am sure the coaching staff would love to add more young talent. The problem is, Toronto would have to get creative if they are looking to add another young player since they do not own a 1st or 2nd round pick this year.

Toronto lost their 1st and the 2nd round pick from Orlando to Brooklyn in the trade that involved DeMarre Carroll. Earlier, they lost their own 2nd round pick in the trade for PJ Tucker. However, it is still possible that they can trade into the draft or take a chance on someone who is undrafted.

Bringing Back The Bench

The more realistic issue that Toronto could face this offseason is having the same Toronto Raptors bench return next season. Fred VanVleet is a Restricted Free Agent while Norman Powell could be seen as a trade piece. The good thing is that most teams will look at unrestricted free agency where teams cannot match.  Other teams such as Orlando and Cleveland could use their lottery picks to address their hole at point guard. However, there are teams that may be looking to pay VanVleet an amount that Toronto cannot afford. If this is the case, the Raptors will likely address this hole by looking at the 2nd round to undrafted part of the draft to maintain a young core.

Players To Watch

Here are some of the 2018 prospects who could potentially go late enough for the Raptors to pick up by acquiring a 2nd round pick or through free agency:

TUCSON, AZ – MARCH 03: Rawle Alkins
TUCSON, AZ – MARCH 03: Rawle Alkins /

Rawle Alkins-Shooting Guard

Alkins was one of the players who worked out with Toronto in preparation for last year’s draft before ultimately deciding to return to school. This year, the coach for the University of Arizona, Sean miler, has already confirmed that Alkins will declare for the 2018 NBA draft. With a 6’9″wingspan, 223lbs, and one of the highest verticals from the combine last year (40.9), Alkins certainly has the physical tools to make up for his height at 6’4″.  He averaged 14ppg and 5 rebs while shooting 38% from 3. If undrafted, Toronto could take a second look at him.

CINCINNATI, OH – FEBRUARY 17: Head coach Jay Wright of the Villanova Wildcats talks with Jalen Brunson
CINCINNATI, OH – FEBRUARY 17: Head coach Jay Wright of the Villanova Wildcats talks with Jalen Brunson /

Jalen Brunson-Point guard

Son of former Toronto Raptor Rick Brunson, Jalen has received a generous amount of attention for Player Of the Year. Most mock drafts have Jalen going in the 2nd round of this year’s draft despite receiving high honors for his play.  He is having a very efficient year with an average of 19ppg and 5ast while shooting 40% from 3. Jalen Brunson has even got comparisons to a former Villanova point guard and current Toronto Raptor in Kyle Lowry. If the Raptors are not able to keep VanVleet this offseason, I see Jalen as the best option to replace him (assuming Masai Ujiri  acquires a 2nd round pick somehow).

TUCSON, AZ – MARCH 03: Allonzo Trier
TUCSON, AZ – MARCH 03: Allonzo Trier /

Allonzo Trier-Shooting guard

This scorer from the University of Arizona has faced multiple conflicts regarding his eligibility. Trier was ruled ineligible by the NCAA after they found a banned substance in his system during his sophomore and junior year. After being cleared, he continued to be one of the most versatile scorers in the NCAA. Allonzo Trier is averaging almost 19 points per game with percentages of 52% FG, 40% 3pt, 86% FT. Norman Powell’s contract extension will be an average of over $10 million for over the next 4 seasons. If Toronto decides to move him, they could pick up a cheaper option in Trier if he goes late in the 2nd round or undrafted.

Honorable Mentions: Joel Berry II (North Carolina), Aaron Holiday (UCLA), Moritz Wagner (Michigan)