The Toronto Raptors are going to try everything they can to add a center that can rebound and defend at an excellent clip. They might not have to look very far to find that new addition, as San Antonio Spurs big and former top 10 draft pick Jakob Poeltl could come back for a second go-around north of the border.
Originally sent to Texas in the Kawhi Leonard trade, Poeltl has slightly evolved from a questionable Top 10 pick into a legitimate starter for a Spurs team that nearly challenged for a postseason spot. The Gregg Popovich system has helped develop another quality big.
The Spurs could look to move off Poeltl to use the No. 9 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft on a center that replaces him on a chapter contract. Some of the most recent buzz surrounding RC Buford and Brian Wright’s organization could hint that Poeltl is on his way out of town.
Rafael Barlowe of NBA Big Board is reporting that the Spurs are targeting a center with the No. 9 overall pick, likely either Memphis’ Jalen Duren or Duke’s Mark Williams. With two defensive stoppers both playing center unlikely to coexist in the long-term, Poeltl could be back on Toronto’s trade radar.
Will the Toronto Raptors end up with Jakob Poeltl?
Poeltl averaged 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game last year, showing that he is finally started to scrape the ceiling of the player Toronto thought he could be when they drafted him. The blocks per game numbers don’t tell the story of what a dominant post defender the Austrian Utah alum has become.
Even with Poeltl and Dejounte Murray starring, San Antonio could be staring at a long rebuild. A core of Murray surrounded by whoever is the pick at No. 9, whatever pieces they get back from Toronto, and young players like Devin Vassell and Josh Primo might appeal to this front office.
The Raptors are not going to give up OG Anunoby in a Poeltl trade, but there is a world in which they cobble together enough assets to acquire him. Perhaps a Chris Boucher sign-and-trade or getting a third team involved? Given Poeltl’s standout defense and low-usage production on offense, few centers would fit better on this team than him.
Poeltl is not going to be a massive needle-mover with regards to moving up the standings, but he would be an excellent scheme fit at a position of need. That should contribute to wins. If the Raptors don’t pull this deal off now, they may never get another shot at acquiring him.