The Toronto Raptors know that they need to knock it out of the park in the 2023 NBA Draft. With Masai Ujiri being very open about his frustration surrounding the lack of internal development, it makes sense as to why he is holding this pick in such high regard.
With Toronto having dealt away a good chunk of their future draft capital to acquire Jakob Poeltl, the opportunities for this team to get younger and more effective are fading fast.
The Raptors are likely not going to move up in the NBA Draft order, meaning they will likely land the No. 13 overall pick in the draft. Even though they won’t be in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, they will be able to use that pick on a player who should have no trouble fitting into their culture.
After simulating the lottery via Tankathon, the Raptors ended up using the No. 13 pick on Arkansas guard Nick Smith. Considering that the former top recruit was once thought of as a potential No. 2 overall pick behind Wembanyama, the Raptors could get some insane value.
NBA Mock Draft: Toronto Raptors adding Nick Smith.
The combination of injuries, a 38% field goal percentage when he was on the floor, and his poor performance in March Madness has made for a dizzying cocktail that has just about ruined his chances to make it in the top ten. However, Smith appears to be someone who will be more successful in the pros than he was in college.
Smith remains one of the best athletes in this conference with an electricity in his style as a ball-handler that you can’t just teach. His ability to make difficult shots and get to the rim with ease night set him apart from other guards in what promises to be a very deep class.
Smith is still a bit raw despite his status as an elite recruit, which could entice an executive like Ujiri that is always looking for some way to bring in young talent and develop them. Why keep trying to make Malachi Flynn work when you can supercharge the bench with Smith?
Smith is a high-variance player who could end up turning into a net negative for a team that doesn’t develop him properly, but the Raptors will likely be confident enough in the structure they can provide to use that No. 13 pick on a player with All-Star potential as a scorer.