NBA draft: 3 sleeper picks Raptors could consider with No. 4 selection

After a season riddled with challenges, the Toronto Raptors were awarded the fourth pick in the 2021 NBA draft, which gives them an opportunity to add a top-tier prospect to their franchise — whether it be Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley, or Jalen Green.

However, other prospects include Jonathan Kuminga, Alperen Sengün, and Scottie Barnes, all of whom could potentially garner major attention in the upcoming draft.

Although it’s unlikely that the Raptors will select Kuminga, Barnes, or Sengün, let’s take a (hypothetical) look at how each player could contribute to the the organization

Jonathan Kuminga

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 18: Jonathan Kuminga #0 of the G League Ignite drives to the basket during a G-League game against the Westchester Knicks at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on February 18, 2021 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Jonathan Kuminga #0 of the G League Ignite drives to the basket during a G-League game against the Westchester Knicks. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Like Green, Kuminga forwent his college eligibility to join the NBA G League Ignite team in preparation for the NBA draft.

Despite getting eliminated from the G League playoffs against the Raptors 905, Kuminga produced a solid stat line, averaging 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and one steal per game, but only shot 38.7 percent from the field and an abysmal 24.6 percent from beyond the arc.

While it’s clear that the 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward has to develop a consistent jump shot in order to become a scoring threat in the NBA, he’s at least shown the ability to attack and finish at the rim.

Kuminga’s best assets seem to be his athleticism, speed, and seven-foot wingspan, which allow him to crash the boards at an effective rate. The 18-year-old also possesses the defensive capability of guarding 1-through-4, but his level of intensity is dependent on whether or not he is up to the task that day.

His overall raw talent means there's a lot of untapped potential, especially if he improves his ball handling and playmaking ability.

As for his fit with the Raptors, Kuminga adds more size, rebounding, and defensive presence, which was sorely lacking from the team during the 2020-2021 regular season. However, so far he’s a liability on the offensive end, especially at the free-throw line, where he only shot 62.5 percent.

Scottie Barnes

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 20: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Florida State Seminoles is pressured by Isaiah Miller #1 of the UNC-Greensboro Spartans in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Tournament held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 20, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Scottie Barnes of the Florida State Seminoles. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

During his freshman year at Florida State, Barnes primarily came off the bench and proved he was more than capable of stepping into the point guard position despite his 6-foot-9, 225-pound frame.

Barnes’ body may be best-suited at the forward position, but he possesses good handles and playmaking ability that equip him to shoulder the majority of guard responsibilities.

He only averaged 10.3 points, 4.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 50.3 percent from the field, but Barnes made up for it by creating open looks for his teammates in the pick-and-roll or pushing in transition.

The 19-year-old did most of his damage attacking the rim and on the defensive end because of his versatility and 7-foot-2 wingspan. By utilizing his size, length, and strength, Barnes could guard 1-through-5, while also constantly switching to close out the perimeter.

His contributions didn’t go unnoticed, as he was awarded the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Sixth man and Freshman of the Year.

From a scoring standpoint, Barnes still has to work on creating his own shot from inside the paint or along the perimeter. His shooting mechanics could also use some major improvements considering he shot 27.5 percent from three and 62.1 percent from the free-throw line.

Barnes' length and size would help the Raptors in terms of rebounds and defensive presence, but unfortunately he’s a liability on offence with no consistent jumper, which would only further add to the team's severe lack of shooting.

Alperen Sengün

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 20: Alperen Sengun of Turkey shoots a free throw during FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers Group D basketball match at Besiktas Akatlar Arena in Istanbul, Turkey on February 20, 2021. (Photo by Mehmet Eser/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Alperen Sengun of Turkey shoots a free throw during FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers. (Photo by Mehmet Eser/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

When it comes to international players, the results can be mixed.

You could draft a generational talent like Luka Dončić or a bust like Andrea Bargnani, and the same rules apply for Sengün, the 6-foot-9, 243-pound big man from Turkey who currently plays for Beşiktaş J.K.

The 18-year-old centre has been playing at a professional level since he was 16 years old, which means he has had the benefit of facing tough competition in the Turkish Super League — considered one of the best leagues in the world.

​​Sengün averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting an impressive 64.6 percent from the field and 81.2 percent from the charity stripe. He was also the recipient of the Turkish League MVP award in 2021.

Sengün seems to possess the necessary skills that could potentially help him thrive in the NBA. He mainly fits the mould of how Shaquille’ O'Neal views a “traditional big man” because he mainly plays with his back to the basket, protects the rim, and dominates the paint with an array of post moves and impeccable footwork.

The one thing that could be a problem is his jump-shooting. Sengün only shot 19 percent from three, so it’d be difficult for teams to stretch the floor, but it’s something he can continue to develop as his career moves forward.

If Toronto were to draft Sengün, it would be a solid choice because the Raptors are in desperate need of a centre, but his lack of outside shooting leaves a lot to be desired and could present some offensive struggles early on.

There’s probably a slim-to-none chance that the Raptors select any players that are projected outside of the top-four, but stranger things have happened at the NBA draft.

We’ll just have to wait and see how things unfold on July 29.

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