3 Draft gems just waiting for the Raptors to mine them

The Toronto Raptors have a history of uncovering gems in the NBA Draft. Can they do so again in the 2024 draft this year?
Tristan Da Silva, Colorado
Tristan Da Silva, Colorado / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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No. 2: Tyler Kolek, Marquette

Once upon a time, the Toronto Raptors looked at a four-year college basketball player, an undersized point guard who dominated in college but seemed to lack the athleticism to thrive in the NBA, and saw in him a player to invest in. Fred VanVleet went undrafted and became one of the best "gems" the Raptors ever uncovered in the draft.

Could Toronto go back to that well again and target Marquette's Tyler Kolek in this year's draft? They'll likely need to actually use a draft pick this time, but Kolek could be a steal in the early second round given all of the skill he brings to the table.

Kolek was an All-American at Marquette and perhaps the nation's best pick-and-roll operator, with elite passing vision and feel for the speed of the game. He could accelerate, slow down, angle this way or probe that way, always with a view of the floor and ready to laser passes to his teammates to get to the basket himself.

What sets him apart from many college stars of that ilk is that he is also a knockdown shooter who should be able to thrive alongside other on-ball players. He's also an excellent defender; he'll never have the size to be a lockdown guy, but he fights and has enough size at 6'3" not to be a liability.

Kolek is a proven leader, a fearless scorer and an intense competitor and would be an excellent addition to the Raptors. If he is still available with the 31st pick he would solve the Raptors' questions at backup point guard and potentially land them another draft steal.