3 standout freshman who could be Toronto Raptors in 2023

DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 03: Kyle Filipowski #30 and Dereck Lively II #1 of the Duke Blue Devils (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 03: Kyle Filipowski #30 and Dereck Lively II #1 of the Duke Blue Devils (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /
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Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors, now armed with a first-round pick after trading away last year’s haul to acquire Thad Young, are already hard at work scouting prospects that can fit their mold. Even though they likely won’t be in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, there are plenty of quality future Raptors out there.

The Raptors have had hits both early and later in the draft during the last few years. While taking Scottie Barnes at No. 4 led to a Rookie of the Year award showed that Ujiri is not going to miss with his best assets, he also found Christian Koloko and Dalano Banton in the second round and Justin Champagnie as an undrafted free agent.

Ujiri’s acumen will be testedt once again, as the Raptors have some areas of concern that could be easily filled if they nail it with their first-round draft choice. While Ujiri has typically preferred veteran players over standout freshmen, the Barnes selection could hint at a change in philosophy.

This trio of terrific freshmen is performing so well in their debut collegiate season that the Raptors may be left with no choice but to use their premium draft capital on them. Any one of them has the talent necessary to become a long-term contributor in Toronto.

3 top freshmen the Toronto Raptors could draft in 2023.

3. Kyle Filipowski, C, Duke

While fellow top recruit and projected first-round Dereck Lively II arrived in Durham with tons of hype, he’s only averaged 4.0 points per game while Filipowski is leading the team in scoring. Teams hoping for a more immediate offensive return will clearly head toward the do-it-all freshman.

Filipowski is leading the Blue Devils in points per game (14.9), rebounds per game (9.4), and steals per game (1.4). With a solid 3-point percentage of 35% and enough soft post moves to pile up the points against quality competition, Filipowski’s scoring will translate to the pros.

Toronto Raptors draft: Kyle Filipowski could play right away

While Toronto spent a pick on an all-defense, minimal-offense prospect like Koloko last year, Filipowski might be the polar opposite. He lacks tremendous athleticism and verticality, which makes him a subpar interior defender. Can Toronto tolerate a liability like that out of a first-round pick?

Filipowski seems like a low-floor player that is going to be a consistently solid shooter and scorer in the pros, which could be a better long-term solution to the center spot in Toronto than trying to put 6-8 Thad Young in that role against Joel Embiid. Filipowski needs developing, but he’s got all the offensive goods.