Could Raptors be eyeing big trade-up after meeting top prospects?

Feb 12, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 12, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Raptors might find it tougher to build through the draft in 2022 than in most seasons, as they only have one second-round selection in the upcoming festivities. That doesn’t mean that Masai Ujiri will throw up his hands and stick at No. 33 overall. 

Toronto appears to be eschewing the usual collection of later first and early second-round picks in order to get as familiar as possible with some of the more prominent names that will change the landscape of whichever team drafts them. Toronto may have tipped its hand and showed that they have its eyes on the lottery.

The Raptors have reportedly met with two projected lottery picks in G League sensation Dyson Daniels and Arizona wing Bennedict Mathurin. Both of these players would fit in alongside Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam if Toronto is willing to pay an exorbitant enough price.

While Masai Ujiri has been quoted as saying that the core of this team is likely to remain intact this offseason, he is one of the best in the league when it comes to covering his bases and ensuring that he can have his fingers in so many pies. Is Ujiri eying a trade up in the draft?

Will the Toronto Raptors trade up in 2022?

If Ujiri wants to make a move for either of these players, it’s pretty easy to see why. Daniels can play anywhere from a small forward on the wing to a traditional point guard. One of the biggest Draft Combine winners, Daniels might be such a hot item that he could go in the top five.

Mathurin has experience with Nurse thanks to his time with Canada’s national youth teams. With Toronto needing shooting and another defender to add to the pile, moving into the lottery to take a player of Mathurin’s caliber should be something that Ujiri at least considers.

The Raptors could lose Gary Trent Jr. and Fred VanVleet to free agency if they don’t exercise their player options, making the allure of resetting the contract clock with another quality young player to pair with Barnes and the improved Precious Achiuwa even stronger. Future firsts would almost be guaranteed to be surrendered.

While these meetings are likely the result of Ujiri trying to know a little bit about some of the biggest names in this class, he might be angling for a move up if they end up falling to a spot where the Raptors could pounce. Meeting with those two players likely can’t be deemed insignificant.

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