The Raptors And Knicks Are The Most Interesting Teams Heading Into The NBA Draft

By  //  July 21, 2021

The 2021 NBA Draft has been set for next Thursday and will be an interesting one given the league’s changing landscape. Perhaps no one could have predicted that we’d be seeing the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns in the finals – gone are the days of the dominant Golden State Warriors and LeBron James’ perennial finals involvement. Things are very different now.

The likes of the Warriors and Toronto Raptors will be looking to contend for a title again, while the New York Knicks, having made it to the playoffs for the first time in seven years, look to be one or two players away from being a contender under Tom Thibideau. The Orlando Magic are also in a similar situation and could cause some trouble in the Eastern Conference next year.

Meanwhile, the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets are in rebuild mode and it remains to be seen how long it will take them to become challengers again.

Toronto has the No.4, No.46, and No.47 picks in next week’s draft and is probably the most intriguing team set to take on new recruits this summer. The team failed to make the playoffs this year after eight straight appearances therein and are now on the brink of a lottery pick. It’s for this very reason they’re now one of the most interesting teams heading into next Thursday. 

The Raptors ended the 2020/21 campaign with one of the worst records in the league but aren’t necessarily looking to overhaul as Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet remain part of their core. The players are under long-term deals and should ensure that the team is relevant in the East for years to come.

Kyle Lowry, however, will be an unrestricted free agent and already has a number of teams looking at him, including the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat.

The Canadian outfit is likely to select a top point guard and Gonzaga freshman Jalen Suggs has been tipped to be the one who gets drafted to Toronto after his incredible season.

The 20-year-old sent Gonzaga to the National Championship game with one of the most memorable college basketball shots of all time. NCAAB odds favored the Zags in the final but they were upset by Jalen Green and the Baylor bears. 

As it turns out, the Rockets are reported to be deciding between Suggs and Green as they pick second in the draft.

“League sources have said Houston is heavily leaning toward Jalen Green there, but there are people within the Rockets’ decision-making process pushing for Jalen Suggs out of Gonzaga,” a report from The Athletic states. “Green’s potential as a star wing in this league has the Rockets’ focus, but the idea of Suggs grabbing the momentum at some point exists. Scouts and executives love his size at the point guard position and believe he can be the leader of a young, rebuilding team.”

The team has the option of bringing the G League Ignite’s Jonathan Kuminga or Florida State’s Scottie Barnes, versatile two-way wing players, who seem like they would fit in pretty well under Nick Nurse.

We’ll just have to wait and see what the team does next week but they have a pretty shrewd president in Masai Ujiri and are likely to make the right decision.

The Knicks have built a reputation as a tough team to beat under Thibodeau and should be considered a top free-agent destination in the upcoming offseason.

The team is said to be one of Damian Lillard’s preferred destinations, with the guard wanting out of Portland. 

Obi Toppin didn’t impress as expected after coming in as the No.8 pick last year but management proved their mettle with Immanuel Quickley at No.25 late in the first round. This time around, they’re picking at Nos. 19, 21, 32, and 58.

Things could get pretty interesting with their two first-round picks and the likes of LSU freshman guard Cameron Thomas, Baylor junior Jared Butler, and Chris Duarte, a senior wing from Oregon look to be great options. It remains to be seen what Derrick Rose will do in free agency but the Knicks still have the looks of a team set to make another run for the playoffs next season.

It’s also been reported that they could trade for Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton on draft night.

“On draft night, according to a source, the Knicks would be amenable to trading out of the first round by gaining an established player,” The New York Post claims, citing a report from The Athletic.

“They hold the Nos. 19 and 21 picks and are one of the few teams that have cap space before free agency begins on Aug. 2. They also have picks Nos. 32 and 58 in the second round.”