Raptors: March hero Johnny Juzang might be in Tampa for draft business

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - APRIL 03: Johnny Juzang #3 of the UCLA Bruins (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - APRIL 03: Johnny Juzang #3 of the UCLA Bruins (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors are hoping and praying that a player with elite talent inevitably slips into their drafting range, as they own two consecutive second-round picks in the middle of that round. While he didn’t show his skills as frequently as some scouts would like, UCLA’s Johnny Juzang proved that he is worthy of a shot in the NBA.

Juzang averaged 16.0 points per game during his first season with the Bruins after an ill-fated stint at Kentucky, but he didn’t really fulfill Mick Cronin’s trust in him until the tournament, when he led an 11-seed team to the Final Four. Even in the semifinal against Gonzaga, it took overtime and a Jalen Suggs shot for the ages to take him down.

Not wanting to risk his stock declining with another year in college, Juzang decided to strike while the iron is hot and put his name in the NBA Draft pool, though he could still back out. If he stays in, he might have some fans north of the border.

Juzang posted on his Instagram story that he is in Tampa. Considering the fact that USC forward Isaiah Mobley, the older brother of fellow Trojan and potential Raptors selection at pick No. 4 Evan Mobley, was seen with him on Instagram, that strongly suggests that Juzang and Mobley were both there on pre-draft visits.

Would Johnny Juzang fit on the Toronto Raptors?

Plain and simple, Juzang is a bucket-getter. He can score from all three levels of the court, possessing the feathery touch to drain shots in the paint while showing an improved perimeter game that could make him a feared scorer from outside. A solid off-ball player, Juzang excelled in catch-and-shoot situations.

At 6-7 and just over 200 pounds, Juzang, ESPN’s 53rd ranked player, has a solid frame for a wing that could use his ball-handling to open up defenses in the pros. Any doubts about his ability to play in crunch time evaporated over the month of March, as his combination of offensive craftiness and refinement helped UCLA go on their magical run.

Juzang will come into the league with flaws that could push him to the second round. he is by no means a solid defender, his lack of tremendous speed and average athletic ability could come back to bite him, and he only has one season of high-level production after spinning his tires in Lexington. A G League stint might be required for whoever adds him.

Even with all of that, and despite the fact that drafting March Madness heroes after a brief four-game spurt hasn’t always panned out, Juzang has first-round talent on the offensive end, and the Raptors could squeeze enough improvement out of him on the defensive end to make him a rotation player.

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