Toronto Raptors Rumors: Will Masai Ujiri Keep the 20th Pick?


Toronto Raptors Rumors: Will Masai Ujiri Keep the 20th Pick?

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With the 2015 NBA draft upon us, speculation is rife about what the Toronto Raptors will do at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn: Who will they select? What is their most desperate need? Will they look to trade their pick?

Masai Ujiri and the rest of the Raptors staff have prepared as much as they can ahead of the draft, including completing the final round of workouts with NBA prospects. However, the question remains as to what they will do with the 20th overall pick – which will obviously be affected by what the teams ahead of them do.

For his part, Ujiri appears ready for all eventualities, as he told the media, including Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun: “This year there is good depth in the draft.

“We feel comfortable we will get a player but also we might move the pick or we might move up or down. There’s lots of flexibility this year.

Apr 15, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors President and General Manager Masai Ujiri gestures prior to the game against the Charlotte Hornets at the Air Canada Centre. The Hornets won 92-87. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

“We are confident we will get a young player. The strategy now is to pick the best available pending what deals come to us or what deals we make.”

Regardless of the General Manager’s comments about the strength of this particular draft class, the Raptors position has to be taken into account. Can they really expect to find a player capable of being part of the rotation at the 20th spot?

Ujiri was asked about just this and didn’t duck the question: “That one is hard to say quite honestly.

“It also depends on our coach. Sometimes guys come in and they make an impression.

“Sometimes guys take a longer time. My impression of a rotation player may not translate on the court, but I think all the rookies will all take a bit of time.”

So, who will the Raptors will take in the draft? Using the assumption they keep hold of the 20th pick, there have been numerous mock drafts to try and determine just this.

More from Tip of the Tower have offered Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a forward from Arizona, as one possible option. While his shooting concerns them, they like his supreme physical gifts and potential “to be a world-class defender at the three and against small-ball fours”.

Garry Parrish of sees another forward ending up in Toronto – Kentucky’s Trey Lyles. Parrish views him as an elite prospect with lots of potential, despite being overshadowed at times during his one year in college.

Meanwhile,‘s Scott Howard-Cooper believes Kevon Looney of UCLA – capable of playing both forward positions – will be making the move to Southern Ontario. Despite the worries about his need to bulk up, Looney is already extremely productive on the boards and, despite a lack of opportunities, has shown three-point range.

Of course we could go on, but as you can imagine, there is a wide variety of opinion regarding who the Raptors will end up selecting. However, the general consensus seems to be that they will pick a forward.

Regardless, Ujiri knows he still has a lot to get right, especially after the playoff sweep by the Washington Wizards: “We didn’t do so well.”

Refreshingly though, the 45-year old GM accepts his part of the blame: “I messed up a little bit, not a little bit but a lot, maybe even with the composition of the team and how we played and the types of players we had playing around each other.

“We have evaluated a lot of stuff and maybe we will make a couple of changes here and there. (However), I think our core still remains the same and we will still give these guys an opportunity to grow.”

Overall, it’s onward and upwards as far as Ujiri is concerned: “We are open-minded and open for business.

“That’s the nature of the NBA. While trying to get better we got swept in the playoffs and that means we can only get better.”