Even at 5-9, the Toronto Raptors are still a long way away from turning their sights on the NBA Draft. They sit just 1.5 games out of a playoff spot behind the New York Knicks with 58 games to go. So, yeah, there's no need to start looking at the draft with so many games still to go. But then again, has that ever stopped anyone from peaking at a mock draft a little early?
For Raptors fans aboard the #FadeForCade Cunningham bandwaggon, hoping to select atop the lottery this year's draft, Sports Illustrated Jeremy Wong's mock draft isn't going to be particularly exciting. Wong used FiveThirtyEight's playoff chances which as of Tuesday had the Raptors with the 10th best odds in the NBA to make the playoffs.
Therefore, pegged at No. 20 overall, Wong has the Raptors selecting 6-foot-5 point guard Daishen Nix from the G League's new elite prospect team, the Ignite.
"The jury is still out on Nix, who probably has more to gain or lose than his Ignite teammates during the upcoming G League bubble," Wong wrote. "In footage from Ignite’s recent scrimmages, Nix’s NBA-caliber passing chops were on display, but he struggled to make shots and, perhaps more concerningly, he looked out of shape. He’s never been particularly svelte and has a wide body type, but Nix is a better athlete than he’s shown, and he’ll need to prove he can handle himself on the defensive end. He’s better shooting set than off the dribble, and that projection will be something to monitor closely as well. As a big, pass-first guard with exceptional vision, toughness and strong intangibles, there’s a lot to like about Nix. But teams have had limited exposure to him thus far and will need to make sense of the situation for themselves. There’s reason to be optimistic he’ll turn it around, but his draft range is pretty wide at this early stage."
Adding Nix would make it two straight years in which the Raptors have gone after a point guard in the draft. The organization selected 6-foot-1, Malachi Flynn, an undersized guard out of San Diego State with the 29th overall pick in 2020.
While it's still way too early to really tell what kind of prospect Nix is considering he's yet to play a game this season, a young prospect who decided not to go to college with questionable defence and some bodyweight questions doesn't exactly feel like a Raptors pick. Other names to look at include Joel Ayayi, a 6-foot-5 guard out of Gonzaga who fits the Raptors mould as a multi-year college player who is versatile and can do the little things Toronto's front office has always had an appreciation for. A little bit higher up is Ayayi's Gonzaga teammate Corey Kispert, a 6-foot-7 forward who can shoot from distance and fits the bill as an older, more mature prospect.