The Toronto Raptors experienced a half-decade of dominance unlike anything the franchise had experienced before, and a good chunk of the blame should be assigned to Masai Ujiri. Through some solid maneuvers in the NBA Draft, shrewd free agent signings, and bold trades, Ujiri built an NBA champion in Toronto.
Ujiri was also able to build the Raptors in quite an efficient fashion despite the fact he never bottomed out and went into the lottery multiple times to get high draft picks. If there was a re-draft, plenty of Raptors that Ujiri snagged in the 20s would go high in the lottery considering their early-career production.
The Raptors have made seven first-round picks in the Ujiri era, the latest of which is Florida State standout Scottie Barnes. The pick was questioned by some, but considering that Ujiri has more hits than misses, we should defer to his judgment here.
It’s time to play teacher and give Ujiri his report card after nearly a decade in charge of the Raptors. Where has he found great value in the draft, and which picks resulted in some poor grades?
Re-grading all Masai Ujiri first-round picks with the Toronto Raptors.
2020: Malachi Flynn
The Mountain West Player of the Year at San Diego State, Flynn was picked 29th overall in 2020, and after a horrendous start, Flynn started to look like one of the steals of the draft. the East’s Rookie of the Month for April, Flynn’s blend of shooting, playmaking, and pesky defense is exactly what Toronto envisioned when they picked him.
While it might be too early to declare Flynn a bust or massive success, his strong end to the season has helped him earn a prominent spot in the rotation next year. If he continues to expand his offensive game, Ujiri’s history with finding quality draft picks at the end of the first round could continue to grow.
2017: OG Anunoby
Considering how far Anunoby has come since his time with Indiana, he stands out as one of the jewels of Toronto’s developmental system. He is one of the best defensive players in the game, and his offense has taken major steps in the right direction in each of the last three seasons.
OG Anunoby is a star in the making for Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors.
Players picked 23rd overall that come into the draft with as many offensive questions as Anunoby had don’t always turn into the showstopper that he has become. With another strong year likely in the cards thanks to the departure of Kyle Lowry, Anunoby has been an excellent selection.