Every year the NBA's draft date seems to present problems for teams with cap space and pending free agents on the horizon. What, for example, are the Toronto Raptors going to do with Kyle Lowry? Do they draft a guard and assume the 35-year-old franchise icon is leaving this summer or do they draft a complementary piece to pair with Lowry for the next two or three seasons and assume he'll re-sign?
With the fourth pick, the Raptors are expected to have plenty of options. Presumably, there will be one of the two guards, Jalen Green — unlikely — or Jalen Suggs, on the board. Alternatively, Evan Mobley, USC's 7-foot center, could be available to complement Toronto's center-less roster. The Raptors could also go with one of the wings, Jonathan Kuminga or Scottie Barnes, with their first choice.
At least on paper, drafting Suggs would suggest the end of Lowry's time in Toronto. Suggs is a 6-foot-4 point guard who would pair nicely with Fred VanVleet and add to the Raptors' glut of guards that already includes Malachi Flynn and Gary Trent Jr.
But Raptors assistant general manager Dan Tolzman doesn't necessarily see it that way.
"Honestly, we've always been a group that takes talent first," Tolzman said. "We've never really made draft selections based on the current roster because there are so many uncertainties. We could have our whole core lined up to draft for someone to plugin and then a blockbuster trade comes and all of a sudden we've got holes all over the floor. So it's never something that, at least, we try to factor in when we're gonna select anybody."
General manager Bobby Webster said almost the same thing during his post-draft lottery media availability. To him, the best way to draft is to select the best player and figure everything else out later.
While taking Suggs might create a logjam in the backcourt, too much talent is rarely a bad thing in the NBA. If Lowry and Trent Jr. want to return, the Raptors always have the option to make a deal, moving Suggs after the draft or flipping someone else to acquire a center.
Toronto's draft board might look a little different than most publicly available mock drafts, it usually does, but even if the Raptors do something surprising on draft night it certainly won't be because they're trying to draft for fit over talent.