Toronto Raptors all-time draft steal starting 5

Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors / Eric Espada/GettyImages
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The Toronto Raptors are approaching an NBA Draft with major implications for the future of the franchise. Toronto could have a pair of picks in the Top 16 picks or so, including one in the Top 6, putting pressure on Masai Ujiri and the front office to nail the picks and add real contributors to their young core.

What should bring the Raptors and their fans confidence is that this franchise has a strong record of drafting talented players. They are not a free agent destination but have instead largely drafted their own stars, and there is a long list of draft successes throughout nearly three decades of basketball in Toronto.

Let's build a team out of the biggest draft steals, when the Raptors found a player in the draft even better than their draft slot. We'll start at point guard and a player the Raptors found without even using a draft pick.

Point Guard - Fred VanVleet, undrafted in 2016

Fred VanVleet was a college star at Wichita State, but entered the 2016 NBA Draft as an undersized combo guard who was likely to go late in the second round of the draft. Whether or not the Raptors influenced him, VanVleet turned down offers by teams to draft him and send him to the NBA Developmental League.

Instead, VanVleet went undrafted and joined the Raptors in Summer League and training camp. Toronto had a deep collection of guards already on the roster, but they recognized something in the generously-listed 6'0" point guard and kept him on the roster.

VanVleet broke out in his second season, securing a rotation role behind Kyle Lowry and shooting 41.4 percent from deep on solid volume. In year three he was a critical part of the 2019 Championship team, a hot-shooting sixth man who helped turn around the Eastern Conference Finals.

VanVleet played seven seasons with the Raptors, making an All-Star team in 2021-22 as he assumed more of a mantle as Kyle Lowry first aged and then left. He is one of the best undrafted guards in the history of the NBA.