The Toronto Raptors have built a consistent winner on the back of expert player development. After triumphing in 48 games last year and proving themselves as a team that needs to be reckoned with, the NBA mock draft predictors are trying to identify which way Masai Ujiri will go as he tries to sustain a winner.
This pick will likely be used on a center that can make the height-challenged Raptors a bit taller or a guard with enough scoring skill to make the bench a respectable unit. This year’s draft class might be considered very top-heavy, but there is a large swath of guards that can score at a high level.
The Raptors are on the edge of finally giving up on Malachi Flynn, as he was one of many backup guards that struggled to get into any sort of groove for large chunks of the season. Toronto knows they need to nail it with this pick, and some of the prognosticators think Ujiri will gamble on a long-term ceiling.
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman had the Raptors using their No. 33 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft on G League guard Jaden Hardy. A former 5-star recruit who chose to turn it to the G League rather than a traditional collegiate route, Hardy went from a sure thing to a potential second-round pick.
Toronto Raptors mock draft: Jaden Hardy could be a nice addition.
Hardy averaged 17.8 points per game in 12 G League games on their Ignite Tour, but those numbers don’t tell the most accurate story. Despite being billed as a masterful scorer at the rim and expert 3-point shooter, Hardy shot just 35% from the field and 27% from 3-point range.
Even with those alarming numbers, a team that values raw traits over box score numbers will trip over themselves to acquire Hardy. In terms of his propensity to score from unusual angles and his fluidity as a ball-handler, Hardy is one of the best prospects in the class. Nick Nurse working with someone as skilled as this could be fun to watch.
When Hardy gets going, it’s clear that he can be an elite scorer with the potential to make multiple All-Star teams. A smooth operator with unmatched confidence and athletic ability, Hardy is a classic ball-dominant two-guard that can create for himself while flexing some solid passing skills.
Hardy is a massive gamble that many organizations could easily screw up. He needs to be brought along very slowly to let that star potential very clearly housed within him. Not every team has the ability to get the most out of him, but Toronto should be able to ignite a fire in him.