Raptors net six prospects in busy NBA Draft with two trades and ultimately four picks

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors had two picks heading into the 2024 NBA Draft, one late in the first round and then the first pick in the second.

Somehow, they ended up netting six young players, adding significant depth in a 24-hour span.

"We need to add some more young core pieces," said Raptors general manager Bobby Webster after the draft was completed. "They're not all going to hit but we need to start having those in the pipeline."

Toronto picked Baylor University swingman Ja'Kobe Walter 19th overall in the first round on Wednesday night. With the second round beginning late Thursday afternoon, the Raptors' front office had nearly 20 hours to plot their next moves.

About 30 minutes before Toronto selected University of San Francisco centre Jonathan Mogbo 31st overall, the Raptors reportedly swung a deal with Sacramento.

That deal sent small forward Jalen McDaniels to the Kings for point guard Davion Mitchell and power forward Sasha Vezenkov, the 45th overall pick in this year's draft and the Portland Trailblazers' second-round selection in the 2025 draft.

Toronto then took University of Houston guard Jamal Shead with Sacramento's pick. In the dying minutes of the draft another deal was struck with the Minnesota Timberwolves that allowed the Raptors to take Ulrich Chomche — pronounced shom-SHAY' — with the 57th overall pick.

"The more picks, the more assets and more flexibility, that's how you start to restock the cupboard," said Webster.

Neither deal was official on Thursday, pending trade calls to the NBA's head office. Those calls would be made on Friday at the earliest.

Because the deals were not finalized, the Kings officially drafted Shead with the understanding he will be sent to the Raptors to complete the deal. The same arrangement was made with the Memphis Grizzlies, through the Timberwolves, for Chomche.

It also meant that Webster was unable to comment on any players the Raptors had acquired via trade until the league had approved the deals.

"We made some other moves that we'll not talk about here, but just the flexibility, I think, helped us out tonight," said Webster, assessing Toronto's draft haul.

Mogbo averaged 14.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists a game as a centre for the University of San Francisco last season. Raptors all-star forward Scottie Barnes was with Mogbo as he was drafted, posting video of the moment to social media.

"I think around the league guys play with each other and I think those relationships are fun to see from afar but the basketball has to work and you have to like them as a player," said Webster of the relationship between Barnes and Mogbo. "By doing that, it creates a basis for that relationship to be fun."

Webster said that drafting Mogbo instead of potentially dealing the 31st overall pick made sense because the six-foot-six 225-pound centre is exactly the type of player the Raptors love.

“Kind of an athletic wing who can do a little bit of everything,” said Webster. “There's probably some development curve for him shooting-wise but I think physically he has an NBA body, 6-7, 6-8, 220 pounds, can really run, really jump.

“That felt to us like the makings of a two-way Raptor wing.”

Shead averaged 12.9 points, 6.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds a game as a guard for the University of Houston Cougars last season.

A 6-10 centre from Cameroon who played for NBA Academy Africa, Chomche was the youngest player eligible for the 2024 NBA Draft.

Chomche only played three games for the NBA Academy Africa during the Basketball Africa League qualifiers. He averaged 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and one steal per game.

McDaniels averaged 3.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 10.8 minutes of play over 50 games last season.

Mitchell averaged 5.3 points, 1.9 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game in 72 appearances last season. Vezenkov averaged 5.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.5 assists over 42 games in Sacramento.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2024.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press