With March Madness in the rearview mirror, it's time to start taking a peek ahead to the 2021 NBA Draft.
For the first time in almost a decade, the Toronto Raptors are heading toward a lottery pick and potentially a pretty high one when the draft rolls around on July 29. It's created some excitement this season, at least for some fans who have adopted a tanking mindset and would prefer to see a few more ping pong balls in the lottery machine than a spot in the play-in tournament.
Over the next few months, we'll take a look at some mock drafts and zero in on some of the names the Raptors are probably looking at. First up, is Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports' mock draft.
With the 7th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors select Davion Mitchell from Baylor University
Baylor's Davion Mitchell was one of the tournament's biggest draft risers. He's a 6-foot-2 junior guard who burst onto the scene this season averaging 14 points, 5.5 assists, on 51% shooting, and 44.7% 3-point shooting, all while leading the Bears to their first national championship in school history.
Prior to the tournament, Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo had Mitchell ranked 32nd on his draft big board.
"A late-blooming breakout season has put Mitchell on the radar as a Top 40 prospect with a real shot at the first round, with optimistic scouts viewing him as a plug-and-play bench guy early in his career," Woo wrote. "He’s made huge strides as a scorer over the past year, turning himself into a dynamic shooter off the dribble, and while he’s not going to shoot 49% from three in the NBA, his all-around improvement has to be taken seriously. Mitchell’s value stemmed from his work as a tough, athletic on-ball defender coming into this season. He’s 22, undersized, and more of a two than a point guard, which does raise the question of upside—this type of efficiency may be close to his ceiling—but it’s hard to watch him and not think he’s earned a shot at an NBA role."
Since then, Mitchell has skyrocketed up draft boards and reportedly has scouts seeing all-star caliber potential in the 22-year-old.
“His upside in the league is definitely a Donovan Mitchell-type of player who plays way better defense,” Peek reported.
On the surface, Mitchell fits the mould of a Raptors prospect. He's an undersized guard with multiple years of college experience. If he is the best player available on Toronto's board when it's time to make a pick, it wouldn't be a shock if the Raptors tabbed the reigning NCAA champion, but it probably wouldn't be the best fit from a roster construction point of view.
Toronto already has Fred VanVleet and Malachi Flynn locked up as two undersized guards and drafting another one doesn't seem like the best strategy. Right now, the Kyle Lowry and VanVleet backcourt works because the two guards can play bigger than their statue and are too productive to take off the court. Ideally, however, the Raptors would probably prefer a backcourt with a little more size, and adding Mitchell wouldn't really allow for that.
The Raptors might be better off going with Keon Johnson, a 6-foot-5 guard from Tennessee, or Kai Jones, a very raw 6-foot-11 big from Texas, with their top pick.