No one in the NBA has had as much success in the undrafted free-agent market than the Toronto Raptors.
Fred VanVleet and Terrence Davis never heard their names called on draft night but it didn't stop them from stepping into the league and having an immediate impact. Canadians Chris Boucher and Oshae Brissett were also found money for the Raptors. This crop of talent shows just how much talent is available outside of the two rounds of the draft and 2020 will be no different as the Raptors look to bolster their roster with a hidden gem.
Here are five players the Raptors should be looking at that likely won't hear their name called on draft night.
Breein Tyree | Guard | 6-2, 195lb | Ole Miss
Terrence Davis exploded onto the NBA scene this year with explosive talent from the guard position and if the Raptors want a similarly impactful player in the backcourt they should take a look at Davis' former teammate at Ole Miss, Breein Tyree.
Tyree had a similar impact to Davis in the SEC but did it in a different fashion. Tyree was one of the best pick and roll scorers in college basketball this past season, torching defences with pull-up jumpers or with devastating crossovers that allowed him to get to the rim. With the NBA being such a pick and roll heavy game, looking at one of the best pick and roll scorers available makes a lot of sense.
Shooting off the dribble is a premium skill that front offices love to target and Tyree's ability to pull up from deep range is going to entice many of them. While his 36 percent three-point stroke in college won't jump off the page, the fact most of his attempts were difficult takes off the bounce makes the percentage actually look promising.
Additionally, Tyree is a pesky on-ball defender who excels at using his hands to bother opposing guards. For any guard to stick in the league there is a baseline level of defensive ability required and he far surpasses that.
Lamine Diane | Forward | 6-7, 205lb | Cal State Northridge
Something Masai Ujiri and the Raptors have banked on when evaluating college players is their belief that production in college will transfer to the NBA. This is what led to them using a first-round pick on Pascal Siakam, a hyper-productive scorer at mid-major New Mexico State when most people had him as a second-round pick. That philosophy will be why they should look at Lamine Diane.
Diane dominated west coast mid-major basketball putting up simply incredible numbers for Cal State Northridge. Averaging 25.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, and 1.6 steals through two years in college he was a complete stat sheet stuffer and he did it with consistency. Yes, he wasn't always playing the highest level of competition, but the way he was able to dominate and overwhelm whoever he was going against deserves a great amount of attention.
Similar to Siakam coming out of college, Diane is a tall forward who could get to the rim against anyone who tried to guard him, using long strides to beat defenders and get to his extension finishes.
His lack of a three-point stroke is what's going to hurt his NBA evaluations but standing at 6'7" he has the size and motor to play an active Rondae Hollis-Jefferson role while bringing a lot more offensive instincts to the table.
Jay Scrubb | Guard | 6-6, 220lb | John A. Logan College
The Raptors have shown they will go anywhere to get talented players, so why wouldn't they be bold enough to go get one of the best junior college players in the last decade?
Junior college hasn't exactly been the place to look for NBA talent as of late but Jay Scrubb has changed that. After two outstanding years at John A. Logan, he was ready to go play for ACC powerhouse Louisville at the NCAA level but when NBA buzz began to build he decided he was ready to go to the Draft.
Scrubb stands at 6'6" and brings NBA-level athleticism to the table. That height and level of athleticism would label him as a potential NBA player right away and his 40 percent 3-point stroke makes him even that much more tantalizing. It's easy to imagine him flying around defensively and using his explosiveness to get into gaps and make plays, and then on the other end, he can space the floor around primary ball handlers.
When it comes to landing value deals on the free-agent market landing an athletic wing makes too much sense. Every year you see veteran shooting guards and small forwards get paid huge deals because of the scarcity of those players so if the Raptors have a chance to get a solid 3-and-D prospect it might be wise to go ahead and do it.
Scrubb has NBA talent but the fact he never played at the typical Division-I level is going to scare some teams off. Even if he doesn't get selected, he's a name you're going to hear on an NBA roster.
Sam Merrill | Guard | 6-5, 205lb | Utah State
If Toronto wants a serviceable ball-handler with some size that can run an offence and make high IQ plays from day one Sam Merrill is someone they're going to love.
Merrill is a coach's dream as a 6'5" combo guard who can play any style of basketball and any role you need him to and thrive. When in a scoring role he uses screens as good as anyone in college basketball as evidenced by his 20 points per game in each of his last two seasons. If asked to distribute he can make the right reads and move the ball around, and he'll do it while being responsible and not turning the ball over.
When talking about possible unsigned free agents you're likely talking about players that are going to be in a complementary role and something Merrill brings to that role is a 42 percent 3-point shot. A jack-of-all-trades offensively he took a lot of these threes off the dribble but also took many off the catch and his floor spacing could work well around players like Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam.
Definitely a below-average athlete by NBA standards he will certainly get passed on by multiple teams but his offensive intelligence is something worth gambling on.
Skylar Mays | Guard | 6-4, 205lb | LSU
When you look at Kyle Lowry, Norm Powell, and Terrence Davis it's clear that Toronto likes tough, physical players in their backcourt and a player that fits this profile perfectly is Skylar Mays.
6'4" and 210 pounds Mays is a stout guard who not only is big for the position but knows how to use his size. Not many players in this class protect the ball better than him when driving to the hoop and once he's there he'll initiate contact with ball handlers to get the space to finish as well as draw fouls.
Until this past season, Mays' jumper was a question mark, an inconsistent element of his game as his muscular upper body made for a clunky release. However, he was able to answer these questions with a 39 percent clip from deep range this year, something that checks off another box for his NBA resume.
Mays' strength and toughness also help him in switching scenarios and his tenacity helps him hang with much larger players. Toronto has had no place on their roster for players who can't contribute defensively and for an unsigned free agent to earn a spot they'll need to battle defensively and Mays will certainly do that.
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