The Toronto Raptors own the No. 13 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, which puts them in a position to turn that pick into a star player that can reverse this team’s fortunes. Toronto is in need of shooters, ball-handlers, and (ideally) one player who can help in both of those areas.
The Raptors have been projected to go to the SEC frequently in mock drafts, with names like Nick Smith and Cason Wallace being projected to head up north quite frequently. However, Masai Ujiri has shown he can zig when everyone else is zagging.
Toronto has typically eschewed the idea of drafting for positional need, often choosing to pick the best player available. However, Ujiri and the rest of the front office might need to bend just a bit if they want to add someone who can make an immediate Day 1 impact.
The Raptors would ace the draft if they used their first-round pick on one of these three players. Adding one of them could flip the script in the playoff race, as they could land a Sixth Man and long-term starter to a roster in need of some hype in the worst way.
3 Big Ten players the Toronto Raptors could draft.
3. Jett Howard, SG, Michigan
Howard checks a lot of boxes for GMs looking for an impact player. Not only is he the son of a coach and NBA great Juwan Howard, but he comes from a blue-blood program and has a style of play that will endear himself to many of the modern NBA’s up-tempo schemes.
Howard may not be the highest flier from an athletic point of view, but he can contribute on both ends while being a masterful shooter from 3-point range during one of his many hot streaks. At his very best, Howard is the exact type of player this Raptors team needs.
Jett Howard fills a need for the Toronto Raptors.
Howard may have inherited his father’s scoring skill and feel for the game, but he doesn’t appear to be a superior athlete for the position like Dad was at power forward. While certainly a solid defender, there are concerns about how high the ceiling is going to be there.
Howard and Michigan teammate Kobe Bufkin have been names linked to Toronto in the past. If Ujiri truly believes he is the one who can give this squad the pop it needs on the offensive side of the ball, that could be enough to warrant a pick at this point.