NBA Mock Draft: Raptors steal high-ceiling Top 3 recruit in second round

Toronto would nail the draft with this move.

Orlando Magic v Toronto Raptors
Orlando Magic v Toronto Raptors / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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The Toronto Raptors have finally recouped one unprotected pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, as the OG Anunoby trade with the Knicks netted them a second-round pick from the Detroit Pistons. There is a good chance this pick remains at No. 31 overall, which is one choice away from being a first-round selection.

Toronto has a great deal of needs they could help address with this pick. The lack of size is still a problem, Gradey Dick's poor start has only accentuated the team's issues with shooting, and the defensive falling off has been so shocking that Toronto might need to get a particularly exceptional player in that area.

However, Masai Ujiri has often subscribed to the theory that Toronto should take the best athlete available, irrespective of position, as they try to mold him into a quality NBA player. The Raptors are adhering to that strategy in ESPN's latest mock draft, adding one of the best recruits in the country.

ESPN's most recent two-round mock draft (subscription required) had the Raptors using the No. 31 overall pick on Kentucky wing Justin Edwards. Considering the former top recruit started the season in the Top 10 of most mock drafts, it would be an absolute steal for him to land in Toronto in the second round.

NBA Mock Draft: Toronto Raptors draft Kentucky SF Justin Edwards

In between sharing the ball with six other top recruits and seeing the concerns about his well below-average 3-point shooting validated in what has been a very uneven start as a Wildcat, Edwards' stock has taken a bit of a tumble. Falling aside, he still represents tremendous value at this stage of his career.

Edwards is a skyscraping wing with tremendous mobility and a presence about him when attacking the basket. On the defensive end, his length and strength both fit in with the archetypes Ujiri has typically prioritized. He won't be OG Anunoby, but his defensive ability on the perimeter is solid.

Edwards was ranked as the No. 3 recruit in the country by 247sports in this past class, ranking behind only G League standout Ron Holland and USC's Isaiah Collier while beating out a lottery lock in Colorado's Cody Williams. Those types of players very rarely fall to No. 31 overall.

The Raptors may not be in prime position to add a game-changer due to their decision to trade away a first-round pick in the Jakob Poeltl deal, but nearly everything about Edwards profile suggests he will be a better pro than the raw numbers indicate.

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