Raptors: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander makes Toronto a serious contender

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 08: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 08: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors may hold the No. 4 picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily going to stay at that spot and select a player like Jalen Suggs or Scottie Barnes. With the Shai Gilgeous-Alexander trade rumors kicking up once again, could Toronto be motivated to chase the Canadian star?

While Oklahoma City Thunder mastermind Sam Presti has been trading anyone with a pulse in exchange for draft picks, Gilgeous-Alexander, acquiring from the Clippers in the Paul George trade, figures to be one piece that the squad will keep long-term.

After spending his sophomore season as the second option behind Chris Paul, the former Kentucky star kicked it into overdrive last year, averaging 23.7 points and 5.9 assists per game while making 51% of his shots and 42% of his 3-point attempts. Simply put, SGA is one of the best bucket-getters in the game.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer claims that Gilgeous-Alexander can be had in a trade, even if the price needed to get him might be viewed as too astronomical for some. The Raptors have proven in the past that they are willing to change the complexion of their roster to add a star, and they might need to do so again.

The Toronto Raptors could turn things around with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The Raptors could be on the verge of losing Kyle Lowry for nothing in free agency after he spent nearly a decade in Toronto. While the natural solution seems to be simply drafting Suggs, the ceaseless deluge of hints that the Raptors are interested in Barnes might suggest to some that Toronto isn’t sold on the Gonzaga man.

The No. 4 pick and some bench players to make the money match up won’t be enough. Toronto will have to surrender control of their draft for years in order to get him. Players at his age with his level of efficiency and scoring production don’t just end up on the market like this.

Gilgeous-Alexander pairing with a backcourt that will likely include both Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. next season alongside OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam in the frontcourt is a playoff team in the East, irrespective of who plays center. A top-four seed is not out of the realm of possibility.

Trading for Gilgeous-Alexander has some risks attached to it, as the Thunder would be given a chance to select a younger, cheaper alternative while the Raptors end up getting stuck with the more expensive guard. However, Toronto should feel comfortable taking that risk, especially if they aren’t sold on Suggs as a point guard.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been in the league for three years, and he’s evolved from a role player in LA to the No. 2 piece behind Paul, and finally to a quality lead guard who can take a game over on the offensive end. If this is the end for Lowry in Toronto, you couldn’t ask for a better young replacement.

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