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Could Toronto add the top international center in 2022?


The 2022 Toronto Raptors draft may seem like it’s too far ahead to start diving into, but Masai Ujiri and this front office are already looking at some of the top prospects. Even if they miss out on Paolo Banchero or Chet Holmgren, mid-tier prospects like Peyton Watson, Bennedict Mathurin, or Yannick Nzosa could make their way to Toronto.

While this team needs some shooting off of the bench, the biggest hole on this roster is at the center position. A lack of height and length has made it tough to stop some of the more physical teams in the league, which could force Ujiri to look for big men with his first-round choice this year.

Considering Ujiri’s love of both developing international talent and working with players who are raw on the offensive end, the 6-11 Nzosa, currently playing with Unicaja in Spain, may just end up in Toronto if they end up with a draft pick on the fringes of the lottery.

Nzosa is by no means a finished product, but many draft prognosticators thought Scottie Barnes was going to take some time to develop, and he’s quickly become a star. Nzosa could be in for a similar star turn if the Raptors manage to get him on the right developmental pathway.

Will the Toronto Raptors draft Yannick Nzosa?

Nzosa is 6-11, yet has already shown flashes of defending on the perimeter and making a name for himself as a post presence. If he is given NBA minutes right away, he should be able to cause havoc on defense due to his ability to block shots and run the floor well in transition.

Offensively, Nzosa has been taking more jumpers as he has progressed with Unicaja. Even with that, most of his first-year offensive responsibilities will be that of a rim-runner, something Toronto currently lacks.

The negatives are related to his offense. While he is an improving shooter, his 31% field goal percentage and 2.2 points per game average show that he is nowhere close to being able to score with ease in the NBA. His passing is solid, but his screen-setting could use some work. He may need some G League time just to get reps and extra tutoring on his finishing.

At barely over 200 pounds, Nzosa will need a ton of fine-tuning before the Raptors can throw him into the rotation. Even with that disclaimer, Ujiri may not be discouraged, as Toronto has the coaching staff to help Nzosa correct his flaws and become a quality big for years to come.



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