The Toronto Raptors, who have been pelted with Bilal Coulibaly rumors in the last few days, remain connected to many of the best shooters in the NBA Draft. Most NBA mock drafts have them eschewing Coulibaly and taking a guard that could provide them an instant punch of scoring.
Toronto’s most popular selections in the mock draft world seem to be Arkansas guard Nick Smith and Baylor standout Keyonte George. Both of them can handle the rock, pass well, and create off the dribble. In terms of need, both of them look like quality fits for whoever ends up coaching him.
However, the idea of drafting a wing that prioritizes 3-point shooting and pesky defense above all else might appeal to some watching the team as fans and to those with some influence in the Raptors’ front office. CBS seems to think that is the direction this team will take.
CBS Sports has the Raptors taking UConn wing Jordan Hawkins, a player who has seen his stock shoot up after he helped the Huskies win an improbable championship as a No. 4 seed. Hawkins should be a rotation player right away for a Raptors’ second unit that is in dire need of his skill set.
NBA Mock Draft: Jordan Hawkins could help the Toronto Raptors.
Hawkins, unlike Coulibaly, is not a top-shelf athlete for the position. This would force the Raptors to make a move that would go against their drafting philosophy of adding the best athlete regardless of position. Hawkins is worth making such a change, however, as he showed during UConn’s run.
Hawkins was a deadeye shooter who was often trusted with taking and making big shots in college. Masai Ujiri has shown that he usually prefers players with multiple years of college experience, and Hawkins’ two-year run with the Huskies could help check that box.
On defense, Hawkins projects to be one of the best wing pests of any first-round wing prospect. With effort, length, and solid versatility that can help him guard multiple guard spots, Hawkins has many of the traits that Toronto loves to work with, even if he isn’t a high-flyer.
Hawkins might not end up as the be-all, end-all solution that makes the Raptors a contender, but if the goal of this draft is to add a player that can contribute to a playoff-ready rotation this year and next, Hawkins might be the best fit there is.