There were plenty of fireworks on draft night, but the Toronto Raptors took a more conventional path and addressed some key areas before the start of free agency.
The 2016 NBA Draft may be in the books, but we’re still processing how it all shook it out.
Long billed as potentially being one of the more unpredictable drafts in recent memory, the night lived up to the hype as we saw players selected higher than many mock drafts expected, lottery projected picks falling out of the lottery and some big names, both draftees and established NBA players, get moved.
While there were plenty of moves made, especially from the teams that many predicted in the weeks leading up to the draft, a couple of teams that were viewed as possible wild cards ended up doing the opposite Thursday night, with one of those teams being the Toronto Raptors.
All throughout the draft process, it was admittedly tough to get a read on what the Raptors wanted to get out of the draft.
They had clear needs that they could address via the draft and they had links to many players that were projected in or around the range where the Raptors would be first on the clock at ninth overall.
Of course, there were plenty of rumors suggesting that the Raptors could go the opposite direction and trade away their prized lottery pick in return for a proven player like Serge Ibaka (according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com).
That sort of uncertainty really set the tone by the time the Raptors were first on the clock, but the Raptors ended up taking the safe route by selecting Jakob Poeltl out of Utah.
That isn’t a criticism of Poeltl as a player by any means, and with the Raptors having to fill the void that Bismack Biyombo is likely to leave behind, Poeltl gives them a very good option as a backup big as well as a good environment for him to develop behind starting big man Jonas Valanciunas.
However, as safe as selecting Poeltl was, it’s hard to not play the “what if?” game, as many players who you could see addressing some of the team’s weaknesses were available.
Of course, it’s easy to say that without knowing which players the front office thought highly of and it’s very possible that the Poeltl pick could have been a backup option due to a player already being selected (perhaps Marquese Chriss?).
With the Raptors selecting a more proven commodity with Poeltl at 9, that created questions regarding what they would do with 27th overall pick.
We obviously saw big names like Skal Labissiere and Deyonta Davis that fell from the lottery that would give the Raptors an opportunity to take a swing for the fences, but they avoiding doing so and selected Pascal Siakam out of New Mexico State instead.
A high energy guy, Siakam is a strong rebounder (averaging 11.8 rebounds per game last season) and gives the Raptors some depth at the power forward spot, especially when you consider Luis Scola is a free agent this summer.
The biggest question regarding him is where does he fit on the team currently.
It’s entirely possible that Raptors head coach Dwane Casey could lean on him to provide valuable spot minutes, but it seems more likely that Siakam’s biggest impact for the Raptors would be developing as a member of their D-League team, the Raptors 905.
All in all, the Raptors addressed areas that they needed to fill and the draft was a great avenue to do so (especially financially).
With that said, their overall draft leaves a little to be desired and considering the big free agent decisions that loom over them, it feels like a missed opportunity for them to take a gamble.