The Toronto Raptors have never been shy about shaking up NBA draft boards.
It's become a bit of a tradition, if you will. Back in 2014, in Masai Ujiri's first draft with the organization, the Raptors shocked the NBA world by drafting Bruno Caboclo with the 20th pick. In 2016, Toronto selected Pascal Siakam at No. 27, a projected second-round pick in most mock drafts that year. In 2017, they got lucky as OG Anunoby fell and fell and fell right into their laps at No. 23. This year, the most obvious picks for Toronto are Evan Mobley, if he's available, Jalen Suggs, or Scottie Barnes. In all likelihood, the Raptors will make the obvious selection in a draft considered to be four or five players deep at the top end. But nobody should count out a Raptors surprise come draft night.
If the Raptors are going to pull off the first surprise of the night either at No. 4 or with a trade-down, Josh Giddey seems like the most likely choice. He's a 6-foot-7 Australian point guard who has all the playmaking and passing skills you could possibly want in a draft prospect.
In 28 games in Australia's NBL this past year, Giddey averaged 10.9 points, 7.5 assists, and 7.4 rebounds for the Adelaide 36ers. When you compare that to LaMelo Ball's 17 points, 6.8 assists, and 7.6 rebounds in the NBL two years ago, it's easy to see why NBA teams are so high on Giddey.
The knock on Giddey is his defense and shooting. With his size, he should be a better defender but he lacks some of the quickness and his motor seemed to wane at times. Equally concerning was his 29.3% three-point shooting, which Giddey said he's been working on lately.
"I think the shooting thing about me is a bit exaggerated," Giddey said Friday. "I think I started the year so bad that it was hard for me to catch up percentage wise and I think in the back, probably half, two-thirds of the season, I think I shot the ball you know at a reasonable level. So, because my start over the year was just horrible it just made it look so much worse than it was. But by no means is that isn't where I want it to be. It's definitely a working point for me."
Toronto has been linked to Giddey for months now. The Raptors scouting department traveled down to Australia and endured a 14-day quarantine just to see the 18-year-old prospect. Since then, there have been rumors about the Raptors potentially trading down in the draft, possibly to select someone like Giddey or Scottie Barnes at No. 5, 6, or 7.
While Giddey is unlikely to turn into a plus defender in the NBA if he can smooth out his shooting stroke he has the size and skills to be a high-level offensive point guard in the NBA. If the Raptors aren't sold on Suggs or Barnes, moving back a few spots to select a more sure-thing playmaker wouldn't be all that shocking if it means collecting more draft picks later in the first round.