Raptors Draft News: NBA announces Toronto is getting the worst-possible pick

Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors
Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

Not many things have gone right for the Toronto Raptors over the past year.

Fred VanVleet walked in free agency. Scottie Barnes fractured his hand. Jakob Poeltl tore a ligament in his finger. RJ Barrett experienced an unthinkable family tragedy. Jalen McDaniels forgot how to shoot. Bruce Brown wasn't worth anything at the Trade Deadline. The team lost 15 straight basketball games and suffered the worst defeat in franchise history. And Jontay Porter became the first NBA player banned from the NBA for gambling in 60 years.

Monday evening, in a quiet announcement, the NBA announced yet another thing that went as poorly as it could have gone for the Raptors.

May 12th was always a key date for the Raptors, as the NBA Draft Lottery will determine whether or not they keep their own first-round pick. They currently have the sixth-best odds in the lottery, but that means around a 50-50 chance they keep the Top-6 protected pick. Otherwise, they will send the seventh or eighth pick to the San Antonio Spurs as payment for the shortsighted Jakob Poeltl deal.

The Raptors have another first-round pick

What was less advertised was that another random determination was going to be made about their other first-round pick. The Raptors picked up the Indiana Pacers' first rounder in the Pascal Siakam trade. Because Indiana finished strong, in large part spurred by Siakam, the Pacers had a 47-35 record, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference and a full 22 games above the Raptors.

Three other teams also finished with an identical 47-35 record: the Orlando Magic, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Angeles Lakers. The NBA settles any ties in record with a simple coin flip method; there is no secondary tiebreaker like there would be for playoff standings.

The league worked out those tiebreakers on Monday. Some decisions were fairly inconsequential; the Oklahoma City Thunder's first-round pick that the Raptors briefly held before rerouting to the Utah Jazz in the Kelly Olynyk deal finished 29th instead of 28th. More important decisions were also made, including the 21-61 Charlotte Hornets landing the No. 3 pick (pre-lottery) and the 21-61 Portland Trail Blazers falling to No. 4.

For the Raptors, that Pacers pick could have landed anywhere from 16th to 19th in the draft. That's a significant swing; four draft slots decided by a random tiebreaker. As every Toronto fan likely expected, they got the worst possible outcome, and will pick 19th in June's draft.

The 2024 NBA Draft class is considered to be a weak one at the top, but there are a number of interesting players who will go throughout the first round, and that includes a few that will be available at pick No. 19. The Golden State Warriors landed All-Rookie guard Brandin Podziemski with the 19th pick last year; it's not a death sentence.

Yet in a year filled with worst-case scenarios, of bitter and depressing outcomes, the chance for a small ray of good luck was snuffed out on Monday. It doesn't bode well for their chances of keeping their pick in May's Draft Lottery.

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