Raptors Rumors: Toronto has potential to command a "serious offer" during the draft

The Toronto Raptors sit in the catbird seat for the 2024 NBA Draft, benefitting from the new format that reportedly will make them the target of trade offers.
Gradey Dick, Adam Silver, 2023 NBA Draft
Gradey Dick, Adam Silver, 2023 NBA Draft / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Toronto Raptors did not have the worst record in the league this season, but they will still be beneficiaries of the perks that come with such an indignity.

The team with the worst record every season is not guaranteed the top pick in the NBA Draft, in contrast to a league like the NFL that automatically orders the top of the draft from the bottom of the standings up. The NBA instead uses a lottery system where the worst teams have the best shot at the top picks, but are not guaranteed them -- the goal is to limit teams "giving up" and outright tanking games.

This year is a clear illustration of the lottery at work. The Detroit Pistons had the worst record but fell to fifth in the draft order, with the Atlanta Hawks leaping up from the 10th slot to take the first overall pick. Usually, the consolation prize for the Pistons would be the first pick in the second round, which is ordered in the exact inverse of the standings.

That's not the case this time around, as the Pistons traded their second-round pick years ago in a deal for the draft pick that would become Saddiq Bey, and that pick bounced around the league until the Toronto Raptors acquired it in the OG Anunoby trade from the New York Knicks this year. This year also happens to bring with it a major change in the NBA Draft, one that will bring an added benefit to the team at the start of the second round.

The NBA Draft is changing this year

Historically, the NBA Draft has been a one-night affair. The first round is the main event, with players invited to the green room and showing off their unique attire. Adam Silver proves his street cred by individually dapping up each prospect, then poses for an on-stage picture.

Then the bell tolls, the first round ends, and Silver is whisked away to post-draft parties while Associate Commissioner Mark Tatum handles a lightning-fast second round. The second round is the period of time where trades are most likely to happen, but each pick has to be shopped, swapped and made within a tight two minute window.

The NFL Draft has leaned into the intrigue and spotlight cast on it by media and fans and spread their seven-round draft into a three-day affair, including giving the first round its own night entirely. The NBA will now follow suit.

Starting with this year's draft, the 30 picks of the first round will take place on the fourth Wednesday in June, with the second round coming the following night. This year that means the draft will start on Wednesday, June 26 and conclude on Thursday, June 27.

One of the side effects of that move is that the trade buzz around the 31st pick in the draft is going to spike into the stratosphere. With around 17 hours between the end of the first round and the start of the second, NBA teams targeting a specific prospect will want to reach out to the team holding that first pick in the second round to secure the opportunity to take their guy.

The Toronto Raptors are in a great position

This year, the team sitting in that catbird seat is the Toronto Raptors. Draft expert Sam Vecenie recently reported that other NBA teams expect the Raptors to be at the center of a bidding war for that pick, and that competition to land that pick in the hours leading into the draft could push the value up and up.

Toronto could sit still and have time to make their final decision leading into the second night of the draft. If a player they ranked in the teens is still on the board, it may be worth it to make the selection themselves.

More likely, however, a team trying to add the ideal, inexpensive prospect to put their team over the top will offer the Raptors a king's ransom for the pick. In the age of the second tax apron, the ability to sign a second-round pick to a four-year deal gives them cost-controlled help for a long time. That makes the very best second-round picks arguably just as valuable as late firsts, and to some teams even more so.

There will be plenty of discussion around draft prospects and trade packages in the weeks remaining before the NBA Draft, and the Toronto Raptors will be in the midst of those just as every team is. In the end, they hold one of the most valuable hands, and that could fetch a phenomenal return when the 2024 NBA Draft rolls around.

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