The Toronto Raptors did trade away a first-round pick when they acquired Thad Young from the San Antonio Spurs, but Masai Ujiri made sure to add the No. 33 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Why wouldn’t you want more picks when you’ve drafted as well as he has in the last half-decade?
The Raptors turned multiple later first-round picks (like Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby) into stars while helping second-rounder Norman Powell and undrafted sensation Fred VanVleet find their footing in the pros. No. 33 overall might be a more fertile ground for talent than most thought.
The No. 33 pick has been the place where competitive teams have typically restocked their bench with cheaper young players that come to town to fill a role. However, there are rare occasions in which teams strike gold and find a long-term starter that helps contribute to a winning environment.
These three players exceeded all of the expectations placed on them and became contributors to quality teams for large chunks of their careers. The Raptors would be thrilled if they land a player who has a career similar to one of these three standouts.
Toronto Raptors draft: 3 best No. 33 overall picks in NBA history
3. Hassan Whiteside, 2010
It’s easy to forget after Whiteside, who was drafted and quickly cut by Sacramento, fell off a cliff defensively over the last few years, but there was a time when he was one of the game’s premier shot-blockers and rebounders. In his prime with Miami, Whiteside was a certified rim protector who helped Miami make the playoffs multiple times.
In a six-year stint that included five years with the Heat and a one-year stint in Portland, Whiteside averaged 14.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. Whiteside led the league in rebounds per game and blocks per game once each in that span, showcasing the value he brings at his best.
The Toronto Raptors could use a center like Hassan Whiteside at No. 33.
The Marshall alum has been a bit inconsistent with his effort and never became an offensive threat, but he remains an incredible story. Cut by the Kings and forced to show off in Lebanon before being given a second chance, Whiteside was an elite stat-stuffer in his heyday.
The early second round is prime real estate for raw bigs that lack the tools to contribute right away, yet can flourish when they land in a stable organization. It works for Whiteside in Miami, and it could happen again if Toronto decides to select a center.