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Raptors' best second-round draft picks in franchise history

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Lest a trade happens, the Toronto Raptors will only have one pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

A second-round selection at 33rd overall is not exactly the most exciting place to be picking and the odds of finding a future star are slim.

Over their 27 seasons of existence, the Raptors actually haven’t had as much luck drafting in the second round as you might believe.

Sure, there have been success stories with undrafted players joining Toronto, with Fred VanVleet being the gold-standard example, but when it comes to the Raptors actually finding those proverbial diamonds in the rough between the 31st and 60th picks of the draft, there actually hasn’t been a ton of success.

Jimmy King of the vaunted Michigan Fab Five was the Raptors’ first-ever second-round pick in 1995 but he only averaged 4.5 points in 62 games played with Toronto before he was traded in the offseason of 1996 to the Dallas Mavericks for early Raptors fan favourite Ronald “Popeye” Jones. King saw his NBA career fizzle out shortly after.

Another vaguely memorable Raptors second-round pick was Roko Ukic, who backed up Jose Calderon in the 2008-09 season.

More recently, the Raptors have had second-rounders that appeared to show early promise but either fizzled out or had off-the-court issues to deal with in Dewan Hernandez and Jalen Harris.

In other words, the second half of the draft hasn’t exactly been the best for the Raptors, but that isn’t to say their 33rd overall selection in this year’s event can’t be an effective player. There aren’t many examples, but the Raptors have hit on second-rounders in the past.

Here’s a look at four of them.

Norman Powell

Powell is the best performer the Raptors had on this list by quite a wide margin – even though Toronto technically didn’t actually draft him.

The now-Portland Trail Blazer was first selected by the Milwaukee Bucks 46th overall in 2015 but had his draft rights and a 2017 first-round pick (that would become OG Anunoby) dealt to the Raptors for Greivis Vasquez.

The trade worked out beautifully for Toronto, as Powell played five and a half effective seasons with the Raptors during some of their best campaigns in franchise history before he was dealt at the 2021 trade deadline for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood.

Powell could be frustrating at times as he appeared to stagnate early on in his development, but he delivered some of the most memorable playoff performances and moments in Raptors history. By the end of his tenure with Toronto, he had blossomed into a key starting-quality two-guard.

You can’t ask for much more from a second-round pick.

Norman Powell was productive for several years in Toronto and was a member of the Raptors' championship-winning team in 2019. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Norman Powell was productive for several years in Toronto and was a member of the Raptors' championship-winning team in 2019. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

P.J. Tucker

As far as actual career arcs go, Tucker is the best player on this list.

With that said, it didn't work out well at all when the Raptors took him with the 35th-overall selection in 2006.

Tucker only played 17 games in his rookie season before Toronto sent him down to play with the Colorado 14ers (now known as the Texas Legends) of the NBA Development League (now the G League). The Raptors would briefly recall Tucker in February before sending him back down to Colorado and then proceeding to waive him in March of that year to make room for Luke Jackson – who only played four seasons in the NBA before he flamed out.

From there, Tucker’s story has been told a thousand times before. He would go on to play five seasons overseas for multiple teams in Europe, winning championships in Germany and Israel, before returning to the NBA in 2012, where he has stuck ever since by becoming one of the NBA’s most preeminent three-and-D specialists.

Since his return, Tucker has played for the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, won a championship in 2021 with the Milwaukee Bucks, currently plays for the Miami Heat and in between all of that had a half-season stint back with the Raptors in 2017.

Dalano Banton

This might be premature since he only just completed his first year in the NBA, but considering the fact he played 64 games last season with bursts of minutes where he looked like a true-blue NBA player, there’s no reason to leave the Toronto native off this list.

The jury’s still out on what kind of player he might become, but he certainly appears far too good to be playing G League hoops. He tore the minor league up last season, averaging 24.1 points, nine rebounds and 5.9 assists per game while shooting 50.7 per cent from the field and 39.3 per cent from deep in seven contests.

Taken with the 46th-overall pick in 2021, the 22-year-old has plenty of room to grow, and at six-foot-seven with legitimate point guard skills, it’s tough to envision him not growing more.

Dalano Banton showed signs of promise in his first season with the Raptors. (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)
Dalano Banton showed signs of promise in his first season with the Raptors. (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)

Quincy Acy

Remember when we said the list of good Raptors second-rounders wasn’t particularly long?

Acy was by no means a great Raptors player, but the 37th-overall pick of the 2012 draft did endear himself to the Raptors faithful over the course of the 36 games he played with Toronto.

What was most notable about Acy was how he helped grease the wheels for that memorable December 2013 trade with the Sacramento Kings that saw him, Rudy Gay and Aaron Gray swapped for Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Greivis Vasquez. That deal helped kickstart what has been an era of unprecedented Raptors success, culminating with the team’s 2019 championship.

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