5 players the Raptors could realistically select with No. 13 draft pick

May 17 2023, 2:48 pm

After a season of toiling with mediocrity all year long, the Toronto Raptors found out on Tuesday night they’ll be getting, well, a mediocre draft position.

As it stands, the Raptors will be picking at 13th overall in the 2023 NBA Draft — occasionally a high enough position to land a solid rotation player, but still relatively low odds of landing a true NBA star.

But it’s not all bad — the pick represents a real opportunity for Toronto to add a significant piece to their roster next season, and one that could conceivably play big minutes should any of their core pieces hit the market via trade or free agency this summer.

Toronto is in need of a reset after a 41-41 season, where things never quite clicked on either end of the floor, resulting in the ultimate dismissal of head coach Nick Nurse after five seasons.

Here are five realistic options for the Raptors come draft day next month:

Jordan Hawkins, UConn

Age: 21

Position: Shooting guard

2022-23 stats: 37 GP (37 starts), 29.4 minutes, 16.2 PTS, 3.8 REB, 1.3 AST, 0.7 STL, .388 3P%

Picked by the mock drafts of both Tankathon and CBS to end up in Toronto, Jordan Hawkins is one of few players in this year’s class with a national title claim to his name, winning this past year’s March Madness with Connecticut.

Like others on this list, Hawkins possesses the profile of a strong long-distance shooter, which has been a segment of Toronto’s game they’ve struggled with mightily over the last two seasons, finishing 28th in the league in three-point percentage this past year.

Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas

Age: 19

Position: Point guard/shooting guard

2022-23 stats: 17 GP (17 starts), 25.8 minutes, 12.5 PTS, 1.6 REB, 1.7 AST, 0.8 STL, .338 3P%

The key part of the vaunted No. 1 recruiting class from Arkansas coach Eric Musselman, Nick Smith Jr. played just 17 games this past season while dealing with a lingering knee injury.

He struggled to make an impact during the Razorbacks’ March Madness run, totalling just 17 points across three tournament games, but scouts have high hopes for the #1 prospect in the 2022 recruiting class. ESPN projects Smith Jr. to be selected by the Raptors.

Cason Wallace, Kentucky

Age: 19

Position: Point guard/shooting guard

2022-23 stats: 32 GP (32 starts), 32.2 minutes, 11.7 PTS, 3.7 REB, 4.3 AST, 2.0 STL, .346 3P%

On a stacked Kentucky roster, Cason Wallace split time at both the starting point guard and shooting guard roles, the former of which he occupied following the injury suffered by Sahvir Wheeler.

NBADraft.net has Wallace projected as going to Toronto, stating that he “may very well be the most physical perimeter defender in the draft this year.”

Keyonte George, Baylor

Age: 19

Position: Shooting guard

2022-23 stats: 33 GP (33 starts), 28.6 minutes, 15.3 PTS, 4.2 REB, 2.8 AST, 1.1 STL, .338 3P%

A consensus five-star recruit, Keyonte George was a standout during his lone season at Baylor, winning the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award, as well as Second-Team All-Big 12.

CBS ranks him as the #1 pure shooting guard in the class, with NBA.com picking George as one of two options (along with Smith Jr.) to be selected by Toronto.

Dariq Whitehead, Duke

Age: 18

Position: Small forward

2022-23 stats:  28 GP (7 starts), 20.6 minutes, 8.3 PTS, 2.4 REB, 1 AST, 0.8 STL, .429 3P%

Dariq Whitehead saw his college career get off to a rocky start last season, as he underwent surgery for a broken foot this past August before the season even began.

SBNation.com has Whitehead projected as being picked up by the Raptors, with draft writer Ricky O’Donnell praising his “solid defense with the potential to switch across two or three positions” and his strong three-point shooting ability as strengths of his game.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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