The Toronto Raptors might’ve surprised plenty when they decided to take Florida State dynamo Scottie Barnes over Jalen Suggs in the 2021 NBA Draft, but that wasn’t the only surprise they had in store. With the No. 46 and No. 47 picks still in their possession, they were in a position to select players like Dalano Banton and David Johnson.
The Raptors needed to make good use of these picks, which were acquired in two mid-season trades that sent Terence Davis to Sacramento and Matt Thomas to Utah. Could Masai Ujiri and/or Bobby Webster once again turn these picks into a player that could sneak into the rotation?
The Raptors still could use a point guard given Kyle Lowry’s uncertain free agency status and a center, as it remains unclear exactly where Barnes will fit into the equation during his rookie season. Toronto decided to add two more guards, one of whom is a lean defensive stopper and one an oversized score-first point guard.
The Raptors selecting Banton, a Nebraska guard who transferred from Western Kentucky, with the No. 46 selection. Banton, a Toronto native, is the first Canadian player drafted by the Raptors.
With the very next pick, Toronto continued to lean in on their trend of selecting big guards, nabbing Johnson, a Louisville alum with some quality scoring ability.
Welcome to the Toronto Raptors, Dalano Banton and David Johnson!
Banton averaged 9.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game last year, showing how he can impact the game in a plethora of different ways. While he is not the best creator for himself on the offensive end, he should be able to make plays on the defensive end and give Nick Nurse even more versatility on his bench.
Johnson might not be the most laterally quick player in the world on defense, but it’s a miracle he lasted until this point. With a robust 6-5 frame, quality passing skills, and the ability to pull up from 3-point range, Johnson, who averaged 12.6 points per game last year has all the makings of a backup point guard that will have a very long career in the NBA.
Banton might need some time with Raptors 905 to work on his offensive game, but he should be in the rotation by the end of the year. Assuming that Fred VanVleet starts at point guard and Malachi Flynn in the backup, Johnson could see time as the third-string or as an off-ball guard if he improves his skills in that area.
With Barnes, Banton, and Johnson now in the fold, the Raptors can start to really kick the offseason into high gear. It’s been a very long and winding road to get to this point, but the selections have been made, and a new era of Raptors basketball can get started.