Mock Draft: Raptors Select High-Upside Frenchman in 1st Round

Toronto Raptors are expected to draft Tidjane Salaun as a high-upside forward in the first round of the 2024 NBA draft
Tidjane Salaun playing for the U18 French national basketball team
Tidjane Salaun playing for the U18 French national basketball team /
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There’s nothing really impressive about Tidjane Salaun’s stat line this season.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged nine points per game while shooting 37.3% from the field, 32.9% from behind the arc, and 76.7% on just over two free-throw attempts per game. He turned the ball over more often than he recorded assists on a French-league team that sits at 17-17.

But the 18-year-old Salaun is one of the youngest prospects in this year’s draft class and has shown flashes of being the kind of moldable high-upside prospect that the Toronto Raptors may want to take a shot on in the middle of the first round.

“He's a wing with size who is an emerging shooter and plus-defender with a good motor,” wrote CBS’s Gary Parrish who has Salaun pegged to Toronto at No. 19. “At this point in his career, he's more of a spot-up shooter than an off-the-bounce shooter. But Salaun is still only 18 years old, point being there's plenty of time to expand his game on both ends for a Toronto franchise that's still likely multiple years from competing in the Eastern Conference again.”

Salaun is a project.

He was a non-shooter in 2022-23 who has shown development as an off-ball player. His shooting stroke looks good, but Salaun tends to take unnecessarily tough shots that have hurt his shooting efficiency.

Defensively, Salaun has the physique to be a versatile wing defender who would give Toronto another forward to play alongside Scottie Barnes. If he fills out his body as he matures, he has a chance to be an impactful defender, but his defensive IQ needs a lot of work.

Toronto has taken chances on players like Salaun in the past.

Bruno Cabaclo most famously fit the profile as a young, raw prospect the Raptors thought they could develop in the G League and Salaun would need a similar kind of plan for the teenage Frenchman. Drafting Salaun would be a high-risk, potentially high-reward pick for Toronto, but considering how far the organization is from contending right now, a home-run swing like Salaun might not be a bad idea.

Aaron Rose


Aaron Rose is a Toronto-based reporter covering the Toronto Raptors since 2020.