Nikola Jovic could be Toronto Raptors’ next developmental prospect

Sep 28, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Raptors are a considerably better team in 2022, and drafting a highly talented collegiate star in Scottie Barnes is one of the main reasons why. In a season where the Raptors are contending for a postseason spot and traded away a first-round pick, could they opt for the European development route in June by taking Nikola Jovic?

Raptors management may find a diamond in the rough in Jovic, a 6-10 Serbian wing who could help Toronto as a wing and power forward in small-ball looks. With Toronto in possession of a very early second-round pick, Jovic might be able to slide down to Toronto’s range.

The 2022 NBA Draft appears to be short on centers for NBA teams to target late in the first round and early in the second. The Raptors may make use of the second-round pick they acquired in the Goran Dragic deal to address other areas of concern. Could they add a hot-shooting wing?

Jovic possesses some unique skills that Toronto could benefit from if they can draft him. With forward height and guard-like skills in certain areas, Jovic could be the next developmental project that the Raptors end up turning into a quality player.

Nikola Jovic could be the Toronto Raptors’ next high-profile prospect.

Jovic, while a lightweight at 209 pounds, is 6-10, which is already taller than any current Raptors’ player. His weight will hinder his ability to rebound and hold his ground against bigger stronger NBA forwards as a rookie. However, Jovic has smooth guard skills for a guy that tall.

Jovic does find his teammates with well-timed passes off of cuts to the basket or in the open floor. Jovic could become a dominant offensive threat in the NBA with a few more years of seasoning, as he can stretch the floor while also attacking defenders trying to close out his shot off of the dribble.

In his second year in the ABA Adriatic League, Jovic is shooting 33% on his threes and 40% from the field overall. Three-point shooting consistency is an area the Raptors could use an upgrade and Jovic could provide that.

Defensively, he has the potential to become a great team defensive player. Jovic has the versatility to guard positions wings and smaller forwards thanks to his length. His major weaknesses are his weight or girth and he could be a bit quicker.

At 19 years of age, he does possess talent that Raptors’ management shouldn’t ignore if he’s on the board when it’s their turn to draft. The only real question, like with any young European player, is if Jovic can handle the transition from a top Balkan league to the NBA?

The Raptors are in the thick of the chase for a playoff spot in the East. What appears obvious, for almost two years running, is the team needs size and frontcourt help. They chose not to acquire that need at the trade deadline and intend to ride out this season mostly as they started it.

Jovic is a player that would help the team with shooting consistency, give them another credible ball-handler and decision-maker, and another versatile long defender. Even if he doesn’t fill their biggest need, he would give the Raptors a player that fits nicely from a schematic point of view.

Raptors management sacrificed a piece of the future believing this team can win now. If available when they draft in the second round, Jovic would be a fine prospect with room to grow.

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