The Toronto Raptors draft strategy for the class of 2022 must include adding a center with some height. Sure, it’s all well and good to play a largely positionless style focused on switchability, but Toronto is once again struggling to consistently dominate the defensive glass.
The Raptors might not be in the same awful tier that gives them a shot at one of the top prospects in this class, but they should be able to either use what should be a first-round pick in the teens or trade into the second round to add talent.
Toronto could opt for an intriguing blend of offensive skills, a traditional back-to-the-basket big, or a humungous rim-protector that changes the whole landscape of the defense when he checks in. Either way, Masai Ujiri needs to get someone on this roster taller than 6-9 in order to help this team withstand some broadsides in the paint.
One of these three players could end up playing for the Toronto Raptors next season if Ujiri makes it a priority to add height. All three of these players could go in the first round, making them prime targets for a team that currently has just one draft pick.
Toronto Raptors draft: 3 seven-footers Masai Ujiri could select.
3. Ariel Hukporti, Melbourne United
Hukporti was regarded as one of the best international prospects in last year’s draft, but he chose to sign in Australia with the goal of pumping up his draft stock just a bit more. If he manages to hit on his full potential, Hukporti could become part of the long-term core moving forward.
Hukporti may not have the best shooting percentages (42% from the field, 28% from 3-point range during his last year in Lithuania), but he is a mobile big man that is starting to get more comfortable as a scorer in the paint. A solid offensive-rounder and post-scorer, Nurse should get along well with the German big.
Toronto Raptors draft: Ujiri could add a big with potential in Ariel Hukporti.
After averaging nearly one steal and 1.2 blocks per game, Hukporti showed that he has some mouthwatering potential as a defender. In Australia, Hukporti will need to work on his discipline on the defensive end, but that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker given everything else he has going for him.
If the Raptors want to trade down and end up moving into the 20s, they would do well to snag Hukporti. While he may need some time to reach his full potential on offense, he’ll come into the NBA with a ton of skills that could blossom of nurtured correctly by Nurse and the developmental staff.