The Toronto Raptors had as successful a draft as one could hope for out of a team that did not have a first-round pick, as being able to nab Christian Koloko with the No. 33 overall pick gave the Raptors a rock-solid backup center. Adding Ron Harper Jr. only strengthened this class.
Using the same scouting magic that helped them find a potential rotation member in 2021 two-way Justin Champagnie, Masai Ujiri signed Harper on a two-way contract. Considering how impressive his final season at Rutgers was, it’s surprising that he was even available at this point.
A four-year starter for the Scarlet Knights who was a team captain last season, Harper averaged 15.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. With a unique 6-6, 245-pound frame, Ujiri’s history of drafting unusual body types and plugging them in as consistent role players helped him land a UDFA gem in Harper.
The son of Cavaliers standout and 1990s Chicago Bulls fixture Ron Harper, the second-generation member of the family fits in perfectly with what Toronto wants from most of their young players. With his unusual combination of frame and play style, Harper could end up making some appearances on the big league club this year.
Ron Harper Jr. is an excellent fit for the Toronto Raptors.
Harper has become a solid shooter this year, making 39% of his 3-point attempts. Even without incredible burst, Harper has shown to consistently create offense for himself while still being an absolute force on the glass. Going to Raptors 905 will work wonders for him.
At 6-5 with a 7-1 wingspan, Harper saw time everywhere from traditional point guard to small-ball power forward with the Scarlet Knights. Ujiri loves that kind of player. If he, like Champagnie before him, can work on fitting into one specific NBA archetype, he’ll earn a proper NBA contract in no time.
Harper, who will be an older rookie, has some issues that likely made teams nervous about him. On top of the fact that he only has one year of elite shooting production and lacks excellent athletic ability, Harper’s defensive potential is based on projection rather than tangible results from his film.
The fact that the Raptors were able to snag Koloko and still pick up an undrafted free agent in Harper that many expected to be drafted at some point proves that Ujiri can still knock the draft out of the park with limited capital. Harper’s progression will be very fun to watch.