Top pick's struggles shows Raptors dodged bullet by not trading into Top 5

The Raptors may have hurt the franchise if they made this move.

Toronto Raptors Media Day
Toronto Raptors Media Day / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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The Toronto Raptors may not be overwhelmingly thrilled with the performance of No. 13 pick Gradey Dick, who was sent to the G League in an attempt to help him rediscover his confidence. At least the Raptors aren't in the same bind the Portland Trail Blazers are in with regards to Scoot Henderson.

In the offseason, Toronto was connected to a potential trade-up with the Trail Blazers. The purpose of this trade would have been to acquire the No. 3 overall pick. With Victor Wembanyama a lock to go No. 1 overall to the Spurs and the Hornets zeroing in on Brandon Miller, Henderson would have been the pick.

His rookie season in Portland has been a mess so far. Henderson's 9.3 points and 4.1 assists per game don't sound crazy, but he is shooting just 34% from the field and a shockingly poor 18% from 3-point range. His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 3.3 is one of the lowest totals in the entire league.

You think Masai Ujiri is under fire right now? Imagine if he traded away a piece like OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam with the intent of getting Henderson, only to see him start off his career like this. Dick struggling is one thing, but a No. 3 pick (who would have gone No. 1 in most years) is a different beast.

The Toronto Raptors decided not to trade for Scoot Henderson.

Henderson is recovering from an ankle injury, but he hasn't had one NBA game with more than 50% of his shots made and has topped 13 points just once. Henderson was already moved to the bench in his rookie season despite playing on a bad Portland team that gave him a ton of leeway early on.

Instead of giving up Anunoby or Siakam to move up to No. 3, Toronto can now take advantage of teams that will be desperate at the trade deadline. The Raptors could still get a first-round pick and a collection of young players in a trade without handing the keys of the entire franchise over to Henderson.

While the Raptors may be on the verge of a rebuild job due to their showing against the Charlotte Hornets, that hypothetical trade would have meant Toronto's first move in a proper tank would have been moving off their best assets in exchange for a player who is coming off the bench behind names like Toumani Camara and Skylar Mays.

Henderson will likely become a terrific player in the association, but the idea of him being an immediate All-Star, which isn't too hyperbolic considering the hype he received in the offseason, seems to have been a bit farfetched. At least Toronto won't have to worry about developing him and Scottie Barnes together.

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