The Toronto Raptors won gold in last year’s draft when they took Scotty Barnes with the fourth overall pick. Barnes ultimately won the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year award and will be the Raptors’ mainstay for years to come.
Unlike last year, in the 2022 NBA draft, Toronto will not have a high pick or a first-round pick. They only have a second-rounder at number 32. However, the Raptors have managed to find gems over the years no matter where they pick in the draft. Pascal Siakam (27th in 2016), O.G. Anunobi (23rd overall in 2017), Norman Powell (46th overall in 2015, originally drafted with the Milwaukee Bucks) and even Fred VanVleet (not drafted in 2016).
With that said, don’t be surprised if Masai Ujiri can find another rough diamond with the 32nd overall pick this Thursday. Here are two sleeper players the Raptors should target in the 2022 NBA draft.
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2 promising sleeping predators
Brown had an outstanding junior year with the Kansas Jayhawks last season. In 40 games, he averaged 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
Brown has more college experience under his belt than most prospects, which should make him NBA-ready for the 2022-23 season. The 6-foot-6 guard may not look like the typical winger that the Raptors seem to have come to love over the past couple of seasons. Unlike Siakam, Anunobi, Barnes and Preshes Achiuwa, he doesn’t have the long wingspan of any Raptors forward.
However, Brown’s defense and tenacity will be his hallmark the moment he steps onto the NBA court, and head coach Nick Nurse will love those qualities more than anything. Defensively, the junior is great both with and without the ball. He is great at jumping into the pass and turning defense into offense when transitioning.
On offense, Brown is an athlete who can get up and throw huge dunks that will set the Scotiabank Arena on fire. He can use his athleticism and tenacity to generate extra balls for his team on the attacking glass. Brown also has a smooth shot from behind the arc, which should work well in the NBA. He shot 38.6% of three shots last season, compared to 34.0% in his sophomore campaign.
Nembhard is one of the most underrated prospects in this draft. He comes in as one of the senior inductees at age 22, having spent four years in college – the first two years in Florida and the last two years with Gonzaga. As a senior, Nembhard averaged 11.8 points, 5.8 assists and 1.6 steals.
Born and raised in the Greater Toronto Area, Nembhard, selected by the Canadian team, would be perfect for storybooks. He also formed some relationship with Raptors coach Nick Nurse playing for Canada at the 2019 World Cup. So the Nurse knows exactly what Nembhard’s game is all about.
Nembhard should enter the league with the ability to contribute immediately, building on the maturity he has gained in his four years of college. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, he is large in the guard position. Nembhard has a natural sense of the game and is a good decision maker in basketball. He performs best in the pick-and-roll and shows stamina and patience when reading the defense.
In addition, Nembhard has an amazing pass. He is capable of making point passes with a rebound to the shot, and can also pass across the court to find open shooters on the perimeter.
The Raptors could have used an assistant like Nembhard on the second line to buy a few minutes for Fred VanVleet.