Raptors have a late draft decision to make before free agency

Masai Ujiri answers questions during Media Day before the NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena. (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Believe it or not, the time has come for the Toronto Raptors organization to turn the page toward the defence of the Larry OB.

The players will continue enjoying the moment for some time yet, as will the fans, but the front office has plenty of decisions ahead of it beginning with the draft. Toronto traded their 2019 first-round pick, along with Jakob Poeltl and DeMar DeRozan, for Kawhi Leonard last summer, and earned the 59th pick by finishing with the second-best record in the league behind the Milwaukee Bucks.

And while the main factor in determining the team’s future will be Leonard’s free agency decision, what the Raptors do on draft day is still worth paying attention to.

It’s certainly easy to sleep on the 59th selection in the 2019 NBA Draft, but after seeing undrafted Fred VanVleet get an NBA Finals MVP vote and knowing that Marc Gasol was once selected with the 48th overall pick, the potential for a player at that spot working some magic for the Raptors 905 and the inflexibility the Raptors currently have with their cap situation, this could have importance down the line for Toronto.

Who’s in play?

The next BRUNO! No, I kid. But there is a Brazilian in play for Toronto, according to ESPN’s insiders. Marcos Louzada Silva, also known as Didi, is a 6-foot-5, 190-pound guard ranked as the 61st best prospect in ESPN’s Top 100.

The 20-year-old recently impressed at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland with his three-point stroke, defensive versatility and energy. In 38 games for Franca in the Brazilian league known as Novo Basquete Brasil, he shot 42.7 percent from three (FIBA regulations, not NBA).

Quinndary Weatherspoon is currently projected to be selected 59th overall by ESPN, and he’s another shooting guard who measures at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds.

The four-year Mississippi State product averaged 18.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his final season and shot 36.9 percent on NCAA threes on 508 attempts over the course of his college career.

Based on some YouTube clips, he’s shown he can create his own shot off the dribble whether it’s getting to the rim or pulling up off the bounce, and he seems to possess a nice overall floor game and feel.

NBADraft.net has Jaylen Hands ranked as their 59th best prospect, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound point guard. He’s considered a flashy point guard with no fear, but struggles with intensity and focus, according to scouts.

The 20-year-old loves to get out in transition and that’s something the Raptors love to do as well.

Canadians in the mix

Simi Shittu, Oshae Brissett and Lindell Wigginton are all expected to be available in the late second round but are unlikely to be drafted. This doesn’t rule them out of being involved with the organization on some level, though, since they could be deemed a fit for the Raptors 905 and look to make an impression there if signed.

Could/should the Raptors look to move up?

Masai Ujiri and his crew are always going to do whatever makes their team better. With the current salary situation and so much uncertainty surrounding whether or not Leonard will stay, the Raptors may elect to stay put before making any decisions related to shedding salary or beefing up the roster with higher-end talent in the draft.

What next?

Kawhi-watch goes full tilt now with free agency beginning June 30 at 6:00 p.m. ET.

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