The Toronto Raptors are on the verge of regressing back to the mean, as a tough stretch of games and the rise of the Washington Wizards means that they will likely be picking in the Top 10 by the time the 2021 NBA Draft rolls around. This means they will, unfortunately, miss out on the best players in this draft, in all likelihood.
Toronto is currently in possession of the No. 8 pick in the draft. While the 2021 class is deep and one of the best in recent memory, it is very stratified.
The top five prospects in this draft, widely regarded to include Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, USC’s Evan Mobley, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs, and a pair of G Leaguers in Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, are starting to separate from the rest of the pack.
While the Raptors won’t get an instant franchise-changer, they will add someone who can be a part of their core long-term, as this draft is full of tremendous guard talent and athletic big men.
With Masai Ujiri about to be handed the best draft pick he has had in years, which player outside of that elite tier would be the best fit on the Raptors?
Which of these 3 prospects is the best fit for the Toronto Raptors?
Tennessee SG Keon Johnson
Johnson’s stock rise has been nothing short of meteoric, and he could be the favorite to go No. 6 overall if all of the five top prospects are off the board. Considering that he is one of the moth athletic players in this class and a solid defender, it’s easy to see where all of the hype comes from.
Unfortunately, Johnson doesn’t have a very reliable jump shot at this stage. On a team that will likely force him to become one of the top scorers on the team as soon as he gets out of the gate, that could be problematic.
Kentucky C Isaiah Jackson
The Raptors will still likely add a center next year despite the addition of Khem Birch and Freddie Gillespie’s new contract. Jackson could be the best non-Mobley center in this draft, as his tremendous athleticism, shot-blocking skill, and defensive potential. He might be a bit too risky to take this high, however.
Jackson scored just 8.4 points per game in college, and he will be expected to score more than that consistently if Toronto ends up drafting him. Too much of a project for Toronto right now, it’s safe to cross Jackson off of your Raptors big board unless they end up winning a few extra games and getting a worse draft pick.
Arkansas SG Moses Moody
Moody is a bit slight, and he is coming off of a very poor performance in the SEC Tournament and March Madness, but he is one of the safer prospects in this draft. Given his long arms, sweet-shooting, and quality defense, Moody was born to be a 3-and-D wing at the next level, and he could help the Raptors right away.
If Kyle Lowry leaves and Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. make up the starting backcourt, Moody can start his NBA career as an ideal swingman off of the bench. The starting lineup should come soon, as he can guard three positions while creating his own shot and finishing at the rim with ease. Plain and simple, he is the guy the Toronto Raptors need.
Of these three, Moody looks like the safest bet, and Ujiri should value that high floor. It would take a bit of luck to get in a position to take him, but he looks like the best bet for the immediate future.