Raptors draft: Kobe Bufkin could emerge as a combine star

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 09: Kobe Bufkin #2 of the Michigan Wolverines (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 09: Kobe Bufkin #2 of the Michigan Wolverines (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The mock draft predictors seem to believe that Toronto Raptors executive Masai Ujiri is very fond of whatever Juwan Howard is doing at Michigan. Not only has Wolverines wing Jett Howard been a popular selection in mock drafts for Toronto, but point guard Kobe Bufkin has also wriggled his way into this fanbase’s collective consciousness.

While Howard is the flashier name, it was Bufkin who was often charged with setting up the offense. Bufkin averaged 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game during his final season with the Wolverines, though he didn’t always see his numbers translate into wins.

Bufkin has been steadily rising up draft boards in the last few months, and he could be a name to watch as the NBA Combine draws closer. Players who thrive on explosiveness will make themselves known in this showcase, and Bufkin may be no different.

While he is not in that Nick Smith/Keyonte George/Cason Wallace tier of prospects that has dominated most of the Raptors’ draft talk in the early stages of the process, the idea of a dynamic guard like Bufkin with the ability to get buckets at a ridiculous clip when hot might be what Masai Ujiri is looking for.

Will the Toronto Raptors draft Kobe Bufkin?

Bufkin can fly to the rim in a flash, as a quick first step and the ability to make shots form all sorts of unusual angles has served him well at the collegiate level. The shooting is solid, but his interior penetration is what will get him paid in the pros.

What stands out about Bufkin is how smooth he plays the game. A crafty lefty finisher who can pull up with ease while showing off passing skills that are much more advanced than his assist numbers would indicate, Bufkin will have no trouble becoming a rotation player immediately.

As is often the casy with young point guards, Bufkin will likely need to add some mass to his frame if he wants to even stand a chance as a defender at the next level. While he does have some streakiness in this game, the issue may not be bad enough for Toronto to forgo drafting him.

Bufkin may not be the best prospect available in terms of immediate impact in Year 1, but his talent is clear and obvious. With some tweaks made by an offensive coach with a strong history on that side of the ball, Toronto may end up finding a VanVleet successor.

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