Raptors Mock Draft: Toronto lands steal of the draft in latest edition

Ja'Kobe Walter, Baylor Bears
Ja'Kobe Walter, Baylor Bears / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

As the Toronto Raptors continue to lose games and position themselves in the draft lottery to keep their first-round pick, their options in the 2024 NBA Draft continue to open up. There are only a few weeks left to the regular season, and that means the Raptors will increasingly look to the offseason and the next steps in building out their team.

Jonathan Wasserman has worked for a number of different outlets as a draft analyst and currently is employed by Bleacher Report. As "March Madness" kicks off he has put together his latest mock draft, using intel and scouting to build a potential road map for June's draft.

That includes a trio of picks for the Toronto Raptors, starting with the No. 6 pick and including No. 17 and No. 32. That is essentially three first-round picks (No. 32 being just two picks outside of it) and sets the Raptors up to significantly add to their young core.

The hindrance to that plan is the collective agreement that this year's draft is much weaker than most draft. That applies both to elite starpower at the top and to functional depth throughout. It also means that the players available with the 17th pick may be very similar to those available at 32.

The Raptors made three picks in this recent mock draft

The first player mocked to the Raptors with the sixth pick was G League Ignite wing Ron Holland. Heading into the year he was the projected No. 1 pick, but he has struggled for a truly terrible G League Ignite team that has seen each of its top prospects lose value. Even as the rest of his game has failed to develop, however, he is a dynamic scorer who can explode the the rim but also has the craft to more slowly probe a defense. He should be an easy 20-point per-game scorer at the next level.

The question is everything else, but he showed enough flashes in high school of a strong playmaker and shooter that the potetial is worth taking a swing on. The question is where that swing should happen; there are worse decisions than drafting an extremely talented 6'6" wing in the Top 10, but given his lackluster year in the G League and the way G League players in recent drafts have taken years to develop in the NBA, it's hardly a slam dunk of a pick.

Speaking of slam dunks, the Raptors' second-round pick at No. 32 is slated to be used on likely two-time NCAA Player of the year Zach Edey. The 7'4", 300 pound center has been the best player in college for two-straight seasons and at the time of writing is leading the No. 1 seed Purdue Boilermakers into the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.

Edey doesn't shoot from distance and has relatively slow feet in space, so there are concerns that he will be the next Boban Marjanovic in the NBA. First, Boban carved out a long career, which would be a totally fine outcome with a second-round pick. Secondly, however, Edey is a better finisher than Marjanovic and a high-end rim protector. He should be a better player and is a solid value with the 32nd pick.

The steal of the draft, however, may have fallen to the Raptors at No. 17, the pick owed to them from the Indiana Pacers from the Pascal Siakam trade. Wasserman has Toronto drafting Baylor freshman Ja'Kobe Walter, a move that could bring an untapped gem to the 905.

Walter came into the season with high hopes for his ability to be an on-ball star. Instead, the Baylor offense thrived when Walter played a supporting role. He is a plus athlete and excellent defender, with power finishes, excellent touch on his floater and a 3-point shot that was streaky but looks like it will improve as time goes on. He may not be an elite shot creator, but in a secondary role he should shine, and the Raptors have enough on-ball creation that they can take a swing at an elite role player who could become more over time.

If the Raptors come away from these options in the draft, they'll have amassed a low-risk backup center in Edey, a high-risk, high-upside wing in Ron Holland, and landed a high-floor, high-upside wing in Ja'Kobe Walter who could be the prize of the class. For a team that needs help up-and-down the roster, this would be a solid return.