The Toronto Raptors are likely to select Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis with the No. 9 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, according to a source close to the organization.
According to Dave Zarum of Sportsnet.ca, the Raptors were initially trying to the trade the lottery pick to try and add an established veteran to the roster. However, general manager Masai Ujiri has reportedly given up on that option and is pencilling in on Sabonis.
“As I’ve been told by a source close to the team, the Raptors brass is no longer expecting to move the pick and have began to narrow their options at No. 9, with Gonzaga big man Domantas Sabonis emerging as a frontrunner,” Zarum reported on Monday.
Domantas Sabonis: Efficient scorer
Domantas, the son of Lithuanian legend Arvydas Sabonis, averaged 17.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game last season for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. He registered an impressive true-shooting percentage of 65.4 a PER of 29.3. According to Hoop-Math, he shot 72 percent at the rim.
With Bismack Biyombo entering free agency and Patrick Patterson in the final year of his contract, the Raptors would prefer to add a big via the draft. They also own the 27th pick. Besides Sabonis, the likes of Henry Ellenson, Jacob Poeltl, Skal Labissiere and Deyonta Davis are also in the mix. The Raptors would try to get Thon Maker with the late first rounder but the Australian/Canadian is projected to go somewhere between No. 15 and No. 25.
Zarum revealed that the Raptors have considered all the aforementioned centers/power forwards. “To this point, the Raptors have worked out all but (Deyonta) Davis, and will spend the next few days debating the merits of each.”
Are Raptors built for a championship?
A starting lineup comprising of Jonas Valanciunas, Domantas Sabonis, DeMarre Carroll, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry could make a lot of noise a year after the Raptors enjoyed a historic season capped off by a franchise-first conference finals appearance. Of course, they still have to re-sign DeRozan.
Incidentally, ESPN’s Chad Ford also has Raptors selecting Sabonis with the No. 9 pick. “Sabonis hits the sweet spot for the Raptors. He’s strong, tough, ready to play now and the most skilled of the four. He isn’t a great athlete, but that’s the only real thing holding him back,” Ford wrote in his latest mock draft released on Tuesday.
Should the Raptors draft Domantas Sabonis or go with a more defensive-minded big?