Title: NBA Draft Prospects: Sengun, Garuba and potential international stash candidates for the Raptors
Date: July 27, 2021
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I took a look at some draft-and-stash candidates for the Raptors, as well as the draft’s top international players.
If there’s one thing Sam Vecenie’s mammoth and excellent draft guide is missing, it’s a pronunciation guide. I realize it falls on the podcaster to nail that down ahead of time while going over clips, but short of a Portuguese or Irish player, my accent work is not particularly sharp. And so it was that I did not put the necessary oomph on Juhan Begarin’s name on this week’s podcast with Vecenie. I will atone when I meet him at Summer League 2022.
In seriousness, Begarin is a legitimate potential target for the Raptors. Any time a team has three picks in the draft, including two second-rounders, it’s worth exploring international players who could be selected and stashed overseas for a year. The idea is not only to keep them off the books until they’re closer to contribution-ready. It can also help balance out a prospect pipeline for a team with an uneven flow of picks.
To wit, the Raptors selected two players in the draft last year and eventually signed an undrafted free agent, as well. The year before that, it was a second-rounder and two UDFAs. The two years before that produced only OG Anunoby through the incoming classes, and 2016 was, of course, the monster success year with Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl and Fred VanVleet. To stay competitive for a long time, teams need to hit on low-cost fliers with regularity, keeping the back part of the roster productive and inexpensive; upside in those spots doesn’t hurt, either. Having a steady flow of those pieces rather than going a season without any Raptors 905 time or overloading the system in any one year is a helpful long-term roster-construction strategy.