Cason Wallace could be the NBA-ready defensive guard Raptors need at No.13
Imman Adan is joined by Stephen Gillaspie of NoCeilingsNBA to discuss Kentucky's Cason Wallace who he believes could make an immediate impact on the Raptors. Listen to the full podcast on draft prospects that fit Toronto's needs at No.13 in the NBA Draft on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
IMMAN ADAN: So let's look at this. Is a team that wants to win right now. Now, if you are Masai Ujiri, if you have to put on your drafting hat, and you are looking at a player who cannot not so much filling all their needs, but a player who is win now ready, can slot into the top six. Because I don't know how much you know about the Raptors, but one thing about them is they don't have a lot of rotation guys. They're not a lot of guys they trust, and they've got some young guys that they're developing, but right now, there's just not a lot of guys that they trust to play. Who do you look at that can come into the league next season and can play?
I mean, Nick Nurse is not coaching them, so probably not 40 minutes a night.
STEPHEN GILLASPIE: Right.
IMMAN ADAN: But upwards of starter level minutes, even if they're not a starter right away, which I can't imagine anyone would be. So yeah, so what are you looking at in terms of who can come in at around this sort of late lottery and play heavy minutes for a team looking to win?
STEPHEN GILLASPIE: Yeah, so I think-- the player that I have 13th on my board right now is Cason Wallace. Now, he is a guard that I think is well suited to be a valuable contributor for years to come on any NBA team because he's the type of guard that can play next to like a jumbo creator. So Scottie Barnes on the Raptors.
IMMAN ADAN: Love to hear that, yeah.
STEPHEN GILLASPIE: And then Pascal Siakam taking leaps as a playmaker as well.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
STEPHEN GILLASPIE: Cason Wallace can come in and space the floor. Now Kentucky was a weird team. They've been weird for the past few seasons, but he's about 6'4", a very reliable 3-point shooter, and probably pound-for-pound the best defensive playmaker on the perimeter in this class.
So at 13, I think that if you add him to your rotation, there may not be as high a star upside as some of these other names, but this could be a long-term starter for the Raptors for many, many years. And I know that the guard position has been a position of need for a little bit--
IMMAN ADAN: Yes, yes, yes.
STEPHEN GILLASPIE: --especially in the creation aspect.
IMMAN ADAN: Oh, yeah.
STEPHEN GILLASPIE: And I know that we'll get into some more of those guards. But if I had to just nail down one that would be available for the Raptors, right at 13th on my board is Cason Wallace. And I think that he screams like a Masai Ujiri type of guard.
IMMAN ADAN: I love that.
STEPHEN GILLASPIE: Because he's defensive-minded, he can shoot, and he's unselfish.
IMMAN ADAN: I mean, those are some of the top things on my list is having a guy who sort of meets that criteria. So I'm looking out for Cason. That's good to know. Like I said, this is all new information to me.
But I love that you said, the defense is sort of the first thing that sticks out at me because that's going to be something that I think a new player coming into the system is going to need, especially because the Raptors are probably-- hey, Raptor fans, I mean, you have three free agents. The chance that you keep all of them, I think, is fairly slim. I think one of the three are going to go, and it's probably going to be one of your guards. So we know the guards are going to be a part of focus for this entire podcast. Although, we might talk about a forward because Masai Ujiri is known to pick one of those up.
But I think a defensive-minded one because we saw yes, the Raptors now have a rim protector in Jakob Poeltl, but their point of attack defense really was bad last year for a good chunk of the year. And so they really need to improve that, and I think Fred VanVleet being healthy certainly does that, but that's if they retain him. So that's really interesting.
Cason-- OK, I like that name. And also you mentioned the thing about high upside, which, I think, oftentimes, when we talk about drafts, we're looking for that guy. Who has the most upside that you can get? And you're picking at 13.
What the Raptors have done, I think, really well is late in drafts, find guys like Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, granted with injuries, and all these guys that have really high upsides late in the draft. But the one time that they had a lottery pick prior to Scottie Barnes, they took Jakob Poeltl, who wasn't the high upside guy, but was just like, his floor is going to be high. We know that he's going to be a good basketball player, even if he doesn't have the upside of a Pascal Siakam. Those are two guys in the same draft.
And so I think people see Masai as being someone who is a little risk taker with his picks, but I think he's actually proven to be more conservative when he does have a sort of mid to late lottery pick like Jakob Poeltl was. That was a tenth overall pick, and I think he went with the most conservative option there. So I wouldn't be surprised if he does the same this time. I think a lot of people are looking at upside, but I wouldn't put it past him to pick the safest bet there as well. Does that makes sense?
STEPHEN GILLASPIE: Yeah. That makes that makes a lot of sense. And I think, too, like based on what we know about how Toronto has attacked the draft-- or the great thing about the Raptors is that they kind of have like a template of a player at each position that they prefer. And--
IMMAN ADAN: A power forward.
STEPHEN GILLASPIE: A power forward.
IMMAN ADAN: Point guard, power forward, center, power forward.
STEPHEN GILLASPIE: Correct. Right? But I think that they identify those types of players in both the draft and in the trade market too. So I think that what we've seen with the Raptors kind of being a little bit deficient at that lead guard position, I think that we could acknowledge that probably benefit from having some relief for your frontcourt players by adding at least one guard who 6'4", so he's not going to be like the biggest guard. But he's also not tiny.
IMMAN ADAN: Not tiny, yeah.
STEPHEN GILLASPIE: Right? He's super long, can defend the one and the two, so that's going to be valuable. And he's going to be able to play well off of and complement that frontcourt. So a little bit of give and take, but not too much of an overbearing type of player that is going to like force the Raptors for whatever reason to change their style of play too terribly much, but can relieve those guys from going deeper in their bag than I guess they necessarily have to.
IMMAN ADAN: I think that's sort of music to a lot of Raptor fans ears. What everybody wants is just a 6'4" player. Can we get someone who's 6'4" to 6'6"?