NBA Draft: Raptors set to pick 33rd overall

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

TORONTO — At the start of the Raptors’ press conference ahead of the NBA draft, general manager Bobby Webster joked.

“It’s not like having the fourth choice, is it?” he said with a smile on his face.

Unlike last year, when the Raptors hit a home run with Scottie Barnes, the buzz was limited heading into Thursday night’s session in Brooklyn.

Toronto traded its first-round pick earlier this year and will only have one pick in the second round, 33rd.

The Raptors have had success with picks like this; they hope to hit the bull’s eye once again.

“I’m thinking of guys like Pascal (Siakam, 27th), OG (Anunoby, 23rd), Delon (Wright, 20th, Malachi (Flynn, 29th), Webster said.

“We (often) operated in that area. We know there are discoveries to be made. It is obviously our job to find them.

The Magic will choose first. Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero will form the top 3, according to expert consensus.

Oklahoma City, Houston, Sacramento and Detroit will decide ranks two through five.

According to several forecasts, Bennedict Mathurin, from Montreal, and Shaedon Sharpe, from London, could be drafted quite quickly.

Some observers believe that Mathurin, of Montreal North, could be selected around sixth place.

For the first time in three years, the Raptors were able to do their preparation and player training in Toronto.

In 2020 virtual meetings were required due to the pandemic and last year the team had to be based in Tampa.

Webster said the Raptors held 12 six-player practices, with the final days devoted to final staff meetings.

A notable pick early in the second round came in 2006 when the Raptors selected 35th-ranked PJ Tucker.

He’s built a great track record and is coming off a solid season with the Heat.

Star player Fred VanVleet was not drafted; this is also the case with Chris Boucher and Khem Birch, in particular.

“I think (the philosophy for the draft) will always be to go with the best player available,” Webster said.

“Maybe more a type of player rather than a position. We know that we like versatile and defensive players and that if they can shoot well (in addition), so much the better.

Barnes was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, averaging 15.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Toronto finished fifth in the East before losing to the 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.

The club gave up their 2022 first-round pick in February, as part of the swap deal with Spurs involving Thaddeus Young.

The Raptors had two second-round picks last year. Toronto’s Dalano Banton was selected 46th and David Johnson 47th.

Banton appeared in 64 games, averaging 3.2 points per game.



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