NBA

Raptors Hit Home Run on 2024 Draft Night

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It’s not a stretch to say that many Raptors fans left the draft lottery feeling disappointed.

Having endured a 25-57 season — the fifth-worst season in franchise history — the fanbase was quick to look to the 2024 NBA Draft to put an end to their worries. Salivating at the sight of high-end talent like Alex Sarr, Zaccharie Risacher and Reed Sheppard to bolster the young core of Scottie Barnes, RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley.

As many fans know, however, this pick was not guaranteed.

The trade made at last year’s deadline to acquire Jakob Poeltl saw the Raptors deal their 2024 first-round pick with a top-six protection. This meant that if the Raptors’ pick landed outside the top six, it was given to the Spurs. This led to a lot of stress and uneasiness leading up to the draft lottery.

These emotions were not resolved, as the Raptors dropped to the eighth pick.

19th Pick: Ja’Kobe Walter

While the most valuable pick the Raptors possessed was taken from them, it didn’t mean they didn’t have any to spare.

They had received No. 19 from the Pacers and No. 31 from the Knicks. These were acquired from the Pascal Siakam trade and the OG Anunoby trade, respectively. With a guard rotation that was expected to lose both Bruce Brown and Gary Trent Jr., they selected Ja’Kobe Walter with the 19th pick. Walter is a young offensive spark that could catch fire at any given moment.

With a developable shot, he fit a need that the Raptors sorely missed last season— efficient 3-point shooting.

31st Pick: Jonathan Mogbo

Opening the second round with the 31st pick, the Raptors selected Jonathan Mogbo.

Having averaged 14.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in his final season at San Francisco, the Raptors strengthened their wing depth while also having an emergency option for backup center Kelly Olynyk.

It also should be stated that Mogbo already has chemistry with Barnes, as they knew each other since they were kids and played AAU basketball together.

Trade for 45th pick: Jamal Shead

The Raptors’ front office wasn’t done with this draft quite just yet.

They traded Jalen McDaniels to the Kings for Davion Mitchell, Sasha Vezenkov and No. 45. They then used No. 45 to draft Houston guard Jamal Shead.

Shead provides above-average playmaking, having averaged 6.3 assists per game during his final season at Houston. He was also Houston’s main defender, which will hopefully help bolster the 26th-ranked Raptors’ defensive rating.

Trade for 57th Pick: Ulrich Chomche

After this, the Raptors still weren’t done making moves.

They sent cash to the Timberwolves in exchange for pick No. 57, which they used to draft Ulrich Chomche. At 6-foot-11 and 18 years old, Chomche provides some youth to the Raptors’ center tandem of Jakob Poeltl (28 years old) and Kelly Olynyk (33 years old).

His defensive upside is immense, with pro-ready mobility and instincts when it comes to rim protection. That being said, his offense could use work, as he doesn’t pose that much of a threat outside of lobs.

Development and Upside

It should be mentioned that outside of Walter, none of these players should be expected to be in the Raptors’ lineup to start the season.

Their age and raw skillsets will necessitate some time with the Raptors’ G League affiliate, the Raptors 905. Keeping that in mind, the Raptors aren’t in any rush to make some noise next season. Barnes, Quickley, Barrett, Poeltl and Gradey Dick are all under contract until at least the 2026-27 season (Olynyk has a $19.5M player option for 2026-27).

The Raptors’ newest additions now have ample time to develop, observe and learn to play against NBA-level talent. Having solved most of their problems, Toronto’s path forward has become a lot clearer.

About Omar Patel

Hey! I'm Omar Patel, a Raptors fan that also loves the Leafs, Cowboys and Blue Jays. I love Poutine, I play basketball and football, and I coach basketball. WE THE NORTH!

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