Grade the Trade: Raptors flip big man for Top 10 draft pick in blockbuster mock deal

The Toronto Raptors lost their Top 10 pick, but there is a pathway to trading back up and flipping an expensive veteran for a high-upside draft prospect
Cody Williams, Colorado Buffaloes
Cody Williams, Colorado Buffaloes / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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Grade the Trade

Jakob Poeltl is a player that this front office liked enough to add twice: first with the ninth pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, and again last February when they traded a future first for him; that pick became the No. 8 pick in this year's draft, sent to the San Antonio Spurs. This deal would be something of a full circle for a player and essentially break-even from the cost to add Poeltl this time around.

Break even for draft compensation, that is; this deal also brings back a replacement starting center in Brandon Clarke and a young forward with a shot still at putting things together in Ziaire Williams. Clarke would be much better equipped than Poeltl to execute a switching scheme alongside Scottie Barnes.

The real prize would, of course, be that No. 9 pick. Even in a down draft that pick has value, and it represents a low-cost shot at adding another piece to their core. The unpredictability of this draft means it's hard to know who will be available at that pick, but some of the options include a replacement at center like Donovan Clingan falling to 9, or a defensive guard to pair with Immanuel Quickley like Reed Sheppard or Stephon Castle, or a high-upside wing like Ron Holland or Matas Buzelis.

The crux of this scenario is likely not whether the Raptors would be getting enough back in this deal; it's a more lucrative trade package than what they sent out to acquire, or at worst a break-even package. The question is whether the front office is ready to move on from him, and similarly, whether they are ready to embrace a few more years of losing rather than fighting as early as next season to get back into the postseason.

The long game is probably a better play if they want to win a championship with this core, but a rebuild is not something this group has undergone to this point. If they have their eyes on the present, keeping Poeltl makes more sense; his rim protection is really needed on this team. If they are willing to play the long game, this deal is a strong value.

Grade: B+

The question becomes, what about the player they use the pick on? Let's "Grade the Pick" for the Raptors.