Toronto Raptors: Five undrafted players that have succeeded with Raptors

Toronto Raptors, Fred VanVleet (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors, Fred VanVleet (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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1. The Toronto Raptors’ biggest free-agent decision in years

Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The year 2016 was a great time for acquiring talent for the Toronto Raptors. They held the ninth and 27th picks at the NBA Draft. Not only did they select Jacob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam with the draft picks, but they also acquired point guard Fred VanVleet as a free agent.

Fred VanVleet was eligible for the 2016 NBA Draft but went undrafted. In his rookie season, Vanvleet played 37 games averaging 7.9 minutes per game. However, he did help the Raptors 905 win the G-League championship in 2017.

In his four years in the NBA, he has played 231 regular-season games, 48 playoff games and was a significant contributor to the Toronto Raptors winning an NBA title in 2019. He became an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and could be due for a massive salary increase from the 9 million he earned in 2019/20.

The theme that connects these five former undrafted players is Bryan Colangelo, and Masai Ujiri selected four of them. Masai Ujiri was hired as a scout and then upgraded to assistant general manager between 2008-2010 when he understudied for Bryan Colangelo before his current role.

After Masai Ujiri’s stint with the Denver Nuggets, he returned to Toronto as the general manager in 2013 following Colangelo’s firing.

In 2008, there was a plan being pursued by Bryan Colangelo to purchase a G-League team affiliate, then known as the D-League.

A Toronto Star article quoted Bryan Colangelo back in 2008 saying:

"“We’re exploring possible involvement similar to what you see in Los Angeles and San Antonio,”"

Since acquiring the Raptors 905 in 2015, Masai Ujiri has used the G-League affiliate to develop both drafted and undrafted talent. It’s a managing system that helps to develop fringe NBA players into rotational and all-star caliber talent.

The Raptors 905 have been to two consecutive G-League Finals in 2017 and 2018. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Norman Powell, Chris Boucher, Bruno Caboclo, and Oshae Brissett are a few of the Raptors 905 alumni that have contributed to the Toronto Raptors success in recent years.

If Bryan Colangelo could have worked out the logistics back in 2008 to attempt what Masai Ujiri has accomplished now with player development, the current seven-year run of Raptors’ success may actually have been longer.

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