The 2021 NBA Draft is just one day away, set for Thursday, July 29.
The Toronto Raptors are expected to be at the forefront of the mayhem, selecting where some would consider to be a turning point in the early lottery.
While the assumption is that the Detroit Pistons will take Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick, followed by Jalen Green to the Houston Rockets at No. 2 and Evan Mobley to the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 3, the Raptors could potentially shake things up at pick No. 4.
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During a pre-draft media availability, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster talked about how the team has narrowed down their No. 4 pick to three or four options, depending on who slides to them and the possibility of moving up or back in the draft, according to The Athletic's Blake Murphy.
"It's obviously easier to trade back than to trade up," Webster said, according to Murphy. "At a certain range, you want to stay in the same tier (of player) if you move down."
Among the hypothetical three or four players the Raptors may select at No. 4, Webster touched on the type of player they will always look for in the draft.
"We like mentally tough, versatile players that want to get better," Webster said, according to The Athletic's Eric Koreen. "We're always going to go with ... whoever is going to be the best player (long-term)."
So with those descriptions, which players check those boxes?
Well, although Gonzaga star guard Jalen Suggs qualifies as a potential short-term need, that doesn't mean he isn't someone the Raptors believe could be the best player long-term. And Suggs certainly fits the bill of a mentally tough and versatile player who wants to get better.
The 6-foot-4 floor general is a pure winner. Should franchise guard Kyle Lowry elect to go elsewhere in free agency, Suggs would be the perfect fit to be his successor.
But Suggs has been linked to the Raptors since they moved up to No. 4 in the NBA Draft Lottery. Who are some other names that Toronto could consider based on Webster's description?
According to The Athletic's Sam Vecenie, the Raptors have always been considering Florida State freshman Scottie Barnes at No. 4. Barnes is a versatile, 6-foot-8 point guard in a power forward's body with a work ethic, energy, attitude and demeanor that would make for a strong culture fit with Toronto.
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Head coach Nick Nurse would surely get the most out of Barnes' switchability on the defensive end, and he could give the Raptors another secondary ball handler who would come in handy while All-Star forward Pascal Siakam recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.
The third player that comes to mind in checking Webster's boxes: G League Ignite forward Jonathan Kuminga.
A player with his size and strength with a wingspan over 7-feet long - that is music to the ears of the Raptors' front office. Kuminga was once in consideration for the top overall pick in this year's draft before his stock slid a bit as the G League season went on. There are valid concerns about his shot selection and offensive skill set as a whole, as well as his motor on the defensive end. But Kuminga has all the tools to be a two-way star in the NBA, and who better than Toronto's renowned player development reputation to bring the best out of the top-five talent?
MORE: Should Raptors consider Kuminga at No. 4?
After Suggs, Barnes and Kuminga, it's hard to guess who the fourth player might be that Webster is hinting at. It's possible that he could be talking about USC center Evan Mobley should he fall to No. 4, as he would fit an immediate need for Toronto in the middle. But it would be a surprise to see the best big man in the draft make it to Toronto's pick without trading up, so let's try and imagine a few other names.
While all of these would likely be in trade-back scenarios, the Raptors did work out Tennessee freshman Keon Johnson, who is the most athletic player in this draft class. There was once a time where Johnson was a lock to be a top-10 pick. Now, the electrifying guard has the widest draft range of any prospect due to raw offensive tools outside of his leaping ability. Could the Raptors see him as a worthy development project if the return is right for the No. 4 pick?
Another player to keep an eye on in a trade-back situation: Australian jumbo guard Josh Giddey, who the Raptors' scouting department traveled Down Under to see during his NBL season this past year. Giddey just might be the best passer in this draft class and his height at his position is exactly what Webster is talking about in terms of versatility. Giddey could very easily initiate offence for Toronto, setting up Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby for easy buckets. He could also play off of VanVleet as a secondary playmaker.
MORE: Analyzing Josh Giddey's best and worst game in the NBL
Those are just a couple of players to keep in mind if the Raptors do move around in the draft, but if they stand pat at No. 4, it seems more likely they will land Suggs, Barnes or Kuminga, with an off-chance that Mobley falls in their lap.
Toronto will certainly be a team to monitor all the way up until it's time for it to make a selection on draft night.
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