Toronto Raptors: Were They Right to Trade Vasquez and Draft Wright?


Toronto Raptors: Were They Right to Trade Vasquez and Draft Wright?

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Not much was expected from the Toronto Raptors in this year’s NBA draft. However, in their own way, they still managed to make some headlines.

Without doubt, the biggest one was the decision to trade Greivis Vasquez to the Milwaukee Bucks. Despite rumors pre-draft that Masai Ujiri was looking to move his backup point guard, I didn’t genuinely believe it would happen. (Maybe I was just in denial.)

In return for the former 28th overall selection, the Raptors received a 2017 first round draft pick (courtesy of the Los Angeles Clippers) and second round selection for this year’s draft. Ujiri ended up using the second round pick to take Norman Powell, a shooting guard from UCLA.

In my humble opinion, Vasquez will be sorely missed in Toronto. During (nearly) two seasons with the Raptors, he averaged 9.5 points and 3.7 assists off the bench.

Apr 11, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez (21) reacts after making a three point basket against the Miami Heat during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

To be fair to Ujiri, moving Vasquez was partly influenced by the financial benefits. As the General Manager told The Canadian Press: ” We wanted to kind of have some flexibility a little bit, open up a little bit of space just to keep our options open as we go into free agency…keep an open mind where we go with the team.”

This decision was somewhat mitigated by the selection of point guard Delon Wright. The Raptors are, in effect, taking a chance on potential over a proven commodity.

Having said that, Wright has at least one fan in Toronto – DeMar DeRozan. This will be important, as he looks to prove himself with the Raptors.

DeRozan spoke to Doug Smith of The Star about his new teammate: “He’s solid. I’ve known him since he was a kid; he’s very smart.”

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Smith also chatted with Wright himself, who confirmed he spoke to DeRozan not long after being drafted: “He told me I don’t have anything to worry about, he’ll take care of me and make sure I do my best.”

One thing that will boost the Los Angeles, California native’s chances of succeeding is his maturity. He is the younger brother of Portland’s Dorell Wright, and he grew up around the NBA.

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey made reference to this, when speaking to TSN: “He wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the NBA.

“He’s grown up around the NBA, he’s been to numerous NBA games, worked out with NBA players. He’s not going to come in shellshocked to go against guys in practice.”

When asked about his strengths, the 23-year old Wright referenced his defence and basketball IQ: “I just know how to play the game and get my teammates involved.

Mar 27, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Utah Utes guard Delon Wright (55) takes the ball away from Duke Blue Devils guard Quinn Cook (2) during the second half in the semifinals of the south regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

“(However), I don’t want to say I can do anything. I just want to leave it up to my play and see what happens.”

At this point, it seems worth reminding everyone that my colleague Chris Okrainetz predicted the Raptors would select Wright. Here is what he had to say:

“Masai Ujiri has been adding long, athletic players ever since he arrived in Toronto, but with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson off the board, Delon Wright is an underrated point guard that would be a quality backup to starter Kyle Lowry. He’s a pass-first point guard who has the kind of length Ujiri covets.”

Of course, without the aid of a delorean time machine, no one can know for sure how the selection of Wright will pan out. Not that this stops the media from attempting to grade all the draft picks.

Amazingly, Sports Illustrated gave the Raptors the worst grade out of all 30 first round selections. Chris Mannix wrote: ” Not sure I understand this pick. The Raptors are set at point guard with Kyle Lowry, who signed a four-year, $48 million contract last summer.

“They have a need at power forward and several—a group that includes Bobby Portis, Kevon Looney and Montrezl Harrell—were available. Instead they take Wright, a long, defensive-minded playmaker.

“This is a bit of a reach for a player who plays a position the Raptors seem pretty set at. Does this mean Toronto will shop Lowry? Strange selection.”

Interestingly, Mike Mazzeo of had an entirely different reaction to the selection, giving the Raptors a thumbs up: “Toronto GM Masai Ujiri took an established combo guard in Wright, who can potentially help spell Kyle Lowry.

“Earlier, Ujiri traded Greivis Vasquez to the Bucks, and Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams is a free agent. Wright is big and can defend. He brings a skill set to the table that the Raptors sorely need.”

Overall, this only represents two of a multitude of opinions, but it shows that ultimately, there is no way of knowing at this point. All we can do is wait and see, while keeping our fingers crossed that Wright provides another step for the Raptors towards that elusive NBA Championship.