Froncourt size: Zeke Nnaji pf/c 6″ 11 University Arizona
The Toronto Raptors are likely to re-sign center Serge Ibaka who just had perhaps his best season in the NBA. It may be a short-term deal. However, with Marc Gasol considering returning to Europe to play for Barcelona, the Raptors are left with the undersized Chris Boucher and last year’s second-round draft pick Dewan Hernandez in the backup center role.
There is chatter the Raptors could have some interest in Montrezl Harrell, but that means spending cap space for a player who should easily more than double his previous season’s stipend of six million. Also, even a one-year deal for Serge Ibaka could costs the Raptors 28-30 million. At #29, in the NBA Draft, Zeke Nnaji at six feet, 11 inches could be available cheap as a backup center.
According to nbadraft.net, Nnaji grades well in rebounding, post moves, size, and jump shooting. Even with a diminished Marc Gasol, this past season, the Raptors were only 11th overall in the Association rebounding the basketball and were just 21st overall scoring points in the paint at 45.9.
Nnaji, provided he is NBA ready, could provide the Raptors with consistent scoring around the basket. Marc Gasol’s shots per game average fell off from a career average of 11.3 to just 6.3 per game in 2020, and the Raptors as a team attempted 42 percent of their field goals (37 per game) from three-point range making 37 percent of them (14 three’s per game). If you combine Toronto’s 18.2 points per game from the fast break with the 42 points, they earn on three-pointers, which is approximately 60 of the 112.8 points Toronto averaged per game for 13th overall this season. The Raptors had epic stretches failing to score at times.
A consistent presence in the paint could have swung the Boston playoff series Toronto’s way. Zeke Nnaji could help restore balance to Toronto’s roster by providing a constant inside force. He shot 57% from the field this season for the Arizona Wildcats and averaged 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.