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Thirteen weeks of perspective on Raptors’ 13th overall pick Gradey Dick – Best IPTV Subscription Provider

Thirteen weeks of perspective on Raptors’ 13th overall pick Gradey Dick – Best IPTV Subscription Provider

Wednesday marks exactly 13 weeks since the Toronto Raptors‘ season started — and we are just over halfway through the NBA campaign.

Possibly lost in the shuffle of a 16-28 record through those 13 weeks, and a season marred by roster overhaul and tough goodbyes, is the fact that it’s also been the first 13 weeks for 13th overall pick Gradey Dick.

The rookie out of Kansas, by all indications, was selected to be an immediate contributor to a three-point needy Raptors team that ranked 28th in both makes and percentage from beyond the arc last season.

Dick was a 40-per-cent shooter from distance during his time in college and most experts believed his ability to knock down long balls was a pro-ready ability.

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However, talent evaluation is no exact science. Role, situation, and growth, above all else, impact a player’s ability to translate their skills to the professional level.

The first 13 weeks of Dick’s career indicate as much.

Pick No. 13 has played an average of 13 minutes through 23 games this season, putting up 3.6 points with shooting splits of 32 per cent from the field and 29 per cent from deep.

Pretty underwhelming, all things considered.

Since the Pascal Siakam trade last week, however, those stats have taken an uptick, and not because he’s been playing more. In fact, the rookie’s been logging practically the same amount of time per game, but what he’s doing in those stints has noticeably improved.

“I want to strive to develop as much as I can,” Dick said on how he’s worked on improving his game over this recent stretch. “Knowing in my head, not everything is laid out for me.”

All that to say, it’s hard to conclusively determine a whole lot from a 20-year-old’s first 13 weeks in the NBA. But, that hasn’t stopped a handful of people from doing exactly that.

Is there enough cause for concern this early in Dick’s career or should people have more faith in the rookie and the front office that selected him?

That exact question led me to look at how the Raptors historically fared when drafting in that late lottery range of picks 10-14.

Only three selections between the Nos. 10 and 14 spots have been made by the Raptors in their near-30 years of existence, and only one other time have they drafted 13th overall.

Coincidentally, that selection was made 13 years ago.

The Raptors selected Ed Davis from the University of North Carolina in 2010 at No. 13. Most of Toronto’s first-round draft selections have come from within the top 10 (14 times) or the 20-and-above range (10 times).

With only two No. 13 picks made by the organization, 13 years apart, the next rabbit hole ventured down was analyzing the 13 selections from Davis in 2010 to Dick in 2023, and how those players panned out.

We’re trying to map out if spot No. 13 is historically known for slow starters, diamonds in the rough, or players who couldn’t leap to NBA levels.

Here’s how the last 13, 13th overall picks shaped up:

Rotation mainstays – starter level

Over the last 13 drafts, six of the players selected at No. 13 can reasonably be described as having maintained rotation spots for a majority of their careers or even leaping as high as consistent starters.

Those include the recently drafted Chris Duarte (2021 – Indiana Pacers) and Jalen Duren (2022 – Detroit Pistons), who despite facing up-and-down minutes allocation, like Dick, have carved out productive roles.

Duren, specifically, has seen his production increase year-over-year as the Pistons have needed more out of the forward spot. With veteran players underperforming, Duren was thrust into a starting role and the sophomore has made the most of the situation by averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds this year.

Following that kind of path feels like the likeliest outcome for Dick in the NBA, at least to start.

Despite his lack of production and time on an NBA court midway through the season, he’s begun showing what he can do in those limited stretches. In each of the three games Dick has played since Siakam was traded, he’s highlighting a different part of his game.

On Jan. 17 against the Miami Heat, the rookie dished out four assists. He then followed that up by drilling three of six triples versus the New York Knicks on Saturday. Most recently, he got on the floor against Memphis on Monday and looked his sharpest defensively. He did all that while averaging less than 15 minutes during that span.

Dick was the only positive plus-minus player against the Grizzlies not named Scottie Barnes and impressed coach Darko Rajakovic enough that he was kept on the floor during the closing minutes of a game that was still within reach.

“Not everything is going to be given to you,” Dick said on what the message from Rajakovic has been to this point. “That’s the biggest thing I love most about Darko … that (he) keeps you grounded … at least you know what you have to do to make coach happy and get on the court.”

Other roster mainstays that were selected at No. 13 include journeymen like Canada’s own Kelly Olynyk (2013 – Boston Celtics), Markieff Morris (2011 – Phoenix Suns), and the aforementioned Davis. All three veterans have logged over 10 seasons in the NBA, and although their stats never popped off the page, they were all consistent contributors.

The last of the six in this group is Tyler Herro (2019 – Miami Heat). He’s arguably already good enough to exceed this categorization as more of a fringe all-star candidate.

More importantly, Herro is a player that Dick should look to model his game after.

Herro and Dick came out of college with near-identical stats and extremely similar profiles. Both were considered elite shooters with ideal mechanics for the next level but lacked ability on the defensive end.

Through 37 games at the University of Kentucky, Herro averaged 14 points and 4.5 rebounds on shooting splits of 46 per cent from the field and 35 per cent from deep.

Dick, through 36 games at the University of Kansas, averaged 14.1 points and 5.1 rebounds, on a 44 per cent shooting from the field and 40 per cent from beyond the arc.

The more Dick gets comfortable with the speed of the NBA and finding quality looks while trailing around the three-point line, the more someone can squint and see a Herro-esque player.

Herro, by the way, is averaging 22.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists on over 40-per-cent shooting clips from the field and distance this season.

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Perennial all-stars

Three No. 13 picks in the last 13 years have been multiple-time all-stars, and for what it’s worth, all of them are perimeter-oriented players, like Dick.

This group encapsulates the dream scenario most Raptors fans have for the 20-year-old. Zach Lavine (2014 – Minnesota Timberwolves), Devin Booker (2015 – Phoenix Suns), and Donovan Mitchell (2017 – Utah Jazz) are the stars of this group.

For anyone to realistically consider Dick as a player that could make that kind of a leap, he’ll need to add an NBA-level dribble package. All three of those players are elite off-the-dribble shot creators and can get their looks very comfortably.

So far, Dick’s been most efficient from beyond the arc when he’s caught the ball and just let it fly. He’s a plus-30 per cent three-point shooter when he doesn’t have to dribble, but once the ball bounces, the number drops to sub-30.

However, there is data to support that Dick can regain that ability.

The rookie was one of the best off-the-dribble shooters (96th percentile) in all of college basketball, and in Division I he was the most efficient player when pulling up from deep, off the bounce.

Couldn’t make the jump

That leaves four No. 13 picks that embody the scenario that most Raptors fans are hoping to avoid.

Kendall Marshall (2012 – Phoenix Suns), Georgios Papagiannis (2016 – Phoenix Suns), Jerome Robinson (2018 – Los Angeles Clippers), and newest Raptor Kira Lewis Jr. (2020 – New Orleans Pelicans), represent a group of guys who for one reason or another couldn’t figure it out in the NBA.

Marshall and Papagiannis were out of the league relatively quickly, playing less than five seasons each. Meanwhile, Robinson is currently on the Golden State Warriors but is an end-of-bench player who’s gotten on the floor in just six games for an average of 3.8 minutes.

Lewis Jr. has underwhelmed since entering the league but has also yet to be healthy outside of his rookie season. The 22-year-old tore his ACL in 2021, wiping away his sophomore campaign, and since then he’s battled other injuries while moving between the NBA and the G League.

The TL;DR of all that information is that most of the previous No. 13 overall picks have been able to last in the NBA. In fact, about 70 per cent of the last 13 No. 13’s have panned out as well as one could realistically hope a late lottery selection would.

However, there is an immediate and expected counter to that point, and that is most of the aforementioned players came out of the gates much stronger than Dick has.

Still, practically none of those players had to deal with being on a team going through its biggest roster overhaul in a decade. More than that, only one of the other 13 players started his NBA career with a rookie head coach by his side.

If that wasn’t enough to convince people that patience is probably the right approach, how about looking at one last 13th overall pick?

He was an 18-year-old drafted right out of high school in 1996, with high expectations from the front office, that he ultimately failed to meet right away.

Kobe Bryant had about as disappointing a rookie year as one could imagine. The 18-time all-star averaged just 7.6 points on 42 per cent shooting, and less than two rebounds and assists per game.

It’s safe to say the five-time champion and now hall of famer turned things around despite his slow start.

Finally, to steal a quote from Raptors president Masai Ujiri, “I think it’s going to take patience and we have to see these guys grow … something I don’t think we have as much now in this day and age in the NBA.”

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