Last season was the best season ever, statistically, for the Toronto Raptors franchise. Reaching a franchise high in wins for a single season, the #2 seed Raptors then made it further than they ever had in the playoffs, all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the eventual NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers in 6 games.
With a core of talented players and new confidence in the team’s abilities, many have wondered what they can do with their two first round draft picks, including the ninth overall pick. The Star in Toronto argued that the Raptors’ best move is to trade the number 9 pick, as the need on an already young team is veteran players.
Should they keep the pick, some major publications have mocked Gonzaga’s Domantas Sobanis as a safe pick that can fit into Toronto’s rotation relatively quickly. Others have suggested Utah Center Jakob Poeltl as someone with potential.
Here are the Raptors’ draft picks from the 2016 NBA Draft.
Jakob Poeltl, PF, Utah
Poeltl, a 7 foot forward from Austria, is seen as a safe pick, someone who should be able to contribute. He had an impressive improvement from freshman to sophomore year at Utah, increasing his minutes per game and going from 9.1 PPG to 17.2 PPG. His field goal percentage this past season was an impeccable .646.
Scouts were impressed by his physical tools, finding him to be a mobile athlete with a great instinct for how best to utilize those tools. He’s not only the first Utah player drafted in the top 1 since Andrew Bogut, he’s also the first player from Austria ever drafted.
One scout in particular told Sports Illustrated, “He’s going to be really good. The improvements he made in rebounding and free throw shooting were impressive. He’s just scratching the surface. If you watch him guard pick and roll, he can switch against guards. He’s grown on me.” People are impressed by how significantly he improved his game from one year to the next.
Pascal Siakim, PF, New Mexico State
Siakim is a 6’10” Cameroon native, and he had quite an impressive year at New Mexico State. This past season he averaged 20.4 points per game, shooting 53.6%. He hasn’t been playing basketball for too long, but he does have a 7’3 wingspan, and tools to go with them that let him become a 1st round prospect. That wingspan and athleticism help him create shots at the rim, but scouts say he still has work to do in creating shots in general. Toronto fans will be waiting to see if he can take his individual tools and put them together to reach up to his potential.