Fate and the laws of probability were not on the side of the Toronto Raptors as the NBA Draft lottery approached. Not only were they outside of the postseason picture, but they had more than a 90% chance of remaining stuck at No. 13 overall and failing to make a miraculous ascension into the top four.
The Raptors, unsurprisingly, earned the No. 13 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, with the New Orleans Pelicans coming in behind them. The San Antonio Spurs won the first overall pick and the rights to draft Victor Wembanyama, with the Charlotte Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers behind them.
None of Toronto’s nightmare scenarios came true. The ascending Magic are likely out of the Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson sweepstakes, and the Pelicans didn’t leapfrog them. More importantly, the Raptors did not have to watch the rival New York Knicks move up in the order.
The Knicks would have picked up the Dallas Mavericks’ first-round pick if they moved down in the order and selected anywhere between 11th and 14th overall. Instead, they stayed put at No. 10 and prevented the ascending Knicks from adding another game-changer.
Toronto Raptors picking 13 in 2023 NBA Draft, Knicks out of Top 14
The Raptors will likely use their pick on a player who brings the immediate scoring punch and defensive potential to the team. Some of the names that have been discussed include Baylor’s Keyonte George, Arkansas’ Nick Smith, and Kentucky’s Cason Wallace.
The No. 13 overall pick is also a valuable trade asset that could potentially be flipped for someone that can help the Raptors win now. Masai Ujiri will have a field day devising ways to put this pick to good use.
The Raptors didn’t lose a spot in the order and the Knicks will not have a first-round selection this season despite some clear holes on their roster. No matter how you slice it, that is an absolute win for Toronto, given the circumstances. Still, Wembanyama would have been nice.