NBA Mock Draft: Keyonte George is an ideal Fred VanVleet replacement

The Toronto Raptors’ epic collapse in a win-or-go-home game against the Chicago Bulls left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths. The Raptors’ season couldn’t have been more mediocre, going 41-41 and barely missing the playoffs. A mediocre record will land the Raptors a mediocre pick, barring implausible draft lottery luck. Fire up all the NBA Mock Draft simulators!

Fred VanVleet is one of three key pending unrestricted free agents that could depart from Toronto. Takes on Fred remain mixed, as he had a very up-and-down year. Despite his struggles, losing the long-time Raptor would leave a big void at PG. One prospect who could fill that spot long-term is Baylor freshman Keyonte George.

George, a projected lottery pick, would provide Toronto with something they haven’t had at lead guard for a while. A 6-4 combo guard with good athletic traits, solid defense, and has shown flashes of being a big-time scorer. The Bears didn’t do a good job of surrounding him with talent, forcing him to jack up shots.

Though George isn’t in the same stratosphere as fellow prospects like Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson, and Brandon Miller, a team with a phenomenal player development system could make him one of the best players in this class.

NBA Mock draft: Keyonte George may fit the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors’ need for a guard is well-known, and that need could only grow with their starting backcourt hitting free agency. They could also use some more juice on offense, even at full strength. Why not take a swing and fill both needs by potentially adding a lethal three-level scorer?

The Baylor freshman averaged 15.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. The numbers look good, until you see that he shot less than 38% from the field and averaged 2.9 turnovers a game. He’s a streaky shooter with questionable shot selection. There’s concern that he may struggle with efficiency in the pros, but that may be a risk that teams would take due to his high ceiling.

Toronto is an organization that preaches defensive ability, and the Big 12 Freshman of the Year would fit right in. While he’s not the 6-9 athletic freak that the Raptors have hoarded the last couple of seasons, his athleticism and quick hands should make him a viable defender in the NBA.

Masai Ujiri has drafted prospects with length and strength as the guiding principles, with the hopes that they can develop offensively. Drafting George would completely contrast with that strategy. However, if the 19-year-old is able to work with an exceptional player development system like Toronto’s, he and Scottie Barnes may be a dangerous duo for the next decade.