The Toronto Raptors need to make sure that they absolutely nail it in the 2022 NBA Draft given their limited draft capital. While big-name guards like Duke’s Trevor Keels and G League sensation Jaden Hardy have been linked to the Raptors, don’t discount the possibility of Arkansas star JD Notae coming to Toronto.
A five-year player who spent his first two seasons at Jacksonville, Notae has quickly become one of Eric Musselman’s most prized players in Fayetteville. Notae led the team with 18.2 points and 2.3 steals per game last season while helping the Razorbacks make the NCAA Tournament.
Notae might not be the biggest guard in the world, but Nick Nurse has a bit of a fetish for smaller guards that can generate turnovers on the defensive end. While he is widely regarded as a second-round pick, Notae could end up being picked on the fringes of the first round if Toronto gets their way.
Notae reportedly worked out with the Raptors on Tuesday, showing that he is very much in play at No. 33 overall. Considering what Nurse has traditionally valued in his guards, the G League camp standout would be a seamless fit on this roster who could get some rotation time as a rookie.
JD Notae fits with the Toronto Raptors.
Notae has been a consistent finisher around the rim going back to his Jacksonville days. His scoring really took off this year, as he routinely cooked even the most experienced SEC defenders with blinding speed and a solid handle.
At 6-2, Notae can defend both guard spots with ease. After making strides as a rebounder and passer this season, Notae has shown enough two-way skill to warrant some playing time as a rookie despite concerns about his size and age. There are some similarities between Notae and Fred VanVleet at Wichita State.
There are reasons why the best player on a quality team like Arkansas is a second-round pick. On top of his age and the fact that he likely will not take to point guard work in the pros, Notae made just 39% of his shots in two years in the SEC. His 3-point percentage dropped from 40% to 29% in just four years.
Turning Notae into a star will be dependent on making sure that he gets his efficiency back up to something more respectable. He’ll be a pest on defense no matter where he goes in the pros. Very few teams will be able to work with Notae like Toronto, making him the ideal player to hone his skills in Mississauga and eventually join the big-league club.