The Toronto Raptors are expected to select 29th at the 2020 NBA Draft. The Toronto Raptors have selected well in recent years, and Zeke Nnaji could be the next choice.
The Toronto Raptors are scheduled to select 29th at the 2020 NBA Draft on November 18th, 2020, and the choice could be Zeke Nnaji. There are some holes in the lineup that this pick could fill. First, with a 33-year-old Kyle Lowry under contract for one more season and a pending huge payday for Fred VanVleet in free agency, the Raptors might want to consider selecting a guard.
There is also the imminent free agency of both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. If neither or one returns, the Toronto Raptors will need to fill a roster spot with a capable backup center. There is also the concern that the 2020 NBA Draft is not a great collection of potential talent, and selecting second-last in the first round, the Toronto Raptors could considering packaging the pick in a trade for a veteran player.
Should the Toronto Raptors decide to select Zeke Nnaji of the Arizona Wildcats, he could make a solid addition to the Toronto Raptors. He is a six-foot-eleven-inch center who played one season at the University of Arizona.
A month ago, he was expected to be drafted in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft but has, in recent weeks, moved into the first round according to most mock drafts. Zeke Nnaji averaged 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last season. He could make an excellent choice for the Toronto Raptors.
The Strengths of Zeke Nnaji
If the Toronto Raptors drafted the Arizona Wildcats center, Zeke Nnaji has size. At age 19, he is six-foot-eleven and weighs 240 pounds. He is a good athlete who can run the floor well. He is not the fastest player, but he isn’t a slow plodder either. In assessing his talents, his mid-range game is good 20 feet in. He has a nice shooting stroke and shot 57 percent from the field in 2019/20 for Arizona. Zeke Nnaji was also a solid 76 percent from the free-throw line.
One thing to note with Zeke Nnaji is he moves extremely well in half-court offensive sets. He scored a decent amount of his points on back door cuts to the basket. He is also an active big who hits the offensive (3.1 per game) and defensive glass well. He is also good in the pick and roll and has a solid low post-game
According to nbadraft.net, Zeke Nnaji is rated an 8 in key skills like leadership, quickness, size, intangibles, jump shot, potential, and post skills. They give him a 9/10 rating on rebounding. These attributes make him a good choice for the Toronto Raptors.
Zeke Nnaji’s Weknesses
In any NBA Draft year, selecting in the final five of the first round is not a great sign for a long-lasting NBA career. There is also the perception that the talent in this year’s draft is not great, but someone has to be selected, and 29 is where the Toronto Raptors are slated to make a draft night selection.
Athletically, Zeke Nnaji can finish above the rim, but he is not an explosive athletic talent. This weakness also means he is not an elite rim protector as he averaged .9 blocks per game.
He is also not a stretch center, as he only shot 29 percent on three-point attempts. He has good shooting mechanics, so he may need to work on extending his range.
Nnaji, even at 240 pounds, is somewhat lean and may need to add weight to compete physically against elite NBA centers.
The Toronto Raptors use their G-League affiliate well to develop talent, and any deficiencies Zeke Nnaji has could be worked on while his NBA career progresses.
How Zeke Nnaji can help the Toronto Raptors
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused financial hardship for all industries, including sporting leagues. The Toronto Raptors may want to add an inexpensive option at the center position. This pick’s first-year value carries a 1.6 million cap hit. With Giannis Antetokounmpo a potential goal for the 2021 off-season, the less money the Toronto Raptors spend now, the better their ability to offer the “Greek Freak” an attractive financial package is for next off-season.
Further, if the goal for Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster is to re-sign Serge Ibaka, they will need a competent backup, and Zeke Nnaji could fit the role. Zeke Nnaji could also help the Toronto Raptors by providing rebounding they lacked last season when they finished 11th overall in the NBA.
There is also the concern that the Toronto Raptors finished 21st in the NBA scoring points in the paint, and Zeke Nnaji excels around the basket. His array of post moves and mid-range shooting would help the Toronto Raptors score more high percentage baskets.
It was definitely a problem for the Toronto Raptors to find easy baskets in the halfcourt. The Boston playoff series was a prime example. The Toronto Raptors could not score for over four minutes at the end of regulation in the double-overtime victory in game 6, and Zeke Nnaji could solve that problem.