Raptors in position to leverage valuable draft picks in a potential trade

The Toronto Raptors are well-positioned for the trade deadline

The Toronto Raptors’ plans for Thursday’s trade deadline remain unclear, but general manager Masai Ujiri does have one advantage if he intends on being a buyer.

While the Raptors’ roster isn’t loaded with expiring contracts or ascending young players, the Raptors do have four first-round draft picks over the next two years to possibly dangle in trade discussions.

Appearing on The Jeff Blair Show on Wednesday, Michael Lee of The Vertical explained why draft picks are in demand more than ever before around the league.

“The value of draft picks is even more because of opportunity to get talent at a very low cost with the new money coming in,” Lee said on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “You’ll see more player-for-player moves (around the league) because (picks) are more valuable than ever before.”

The Raptors have been linked to various forwards in trade rumours over the past month, and the bevy of picks should help gain leverage over other teams in trade scenarios.

“They can use more strength and more depth up front. They have Jonas and if they can find someone that can give them the range to keep up with a [Kevin] Love or LeBron [James]. That’s what you would try to look for.”

For a team that has not won a seven-game playoff series in its entire franchise history, Lee believes it’s time for the Raptors to make a big splash.

“Masai Ujiri has been rebuilding this program for about two or three years now and you can see right now Kyle (Lowry) and DeMar (DeRozan) are playing their best ball. If you want to end that drought of first-round exits and actually make a deep run, this might be the time to go for it.

“If you make a move right now, you’re sending a message to the team. You’re telling everybody we’re serious about going for it. Obviously [DeMarre] Carroll is hurt and it affects things. Adding him will be a huge piece gfoing forward but if you make that one big move to let everyone know what you’re all about, you’re sending a message to the city and the team that you’re serious.”

The Raptors headed into the All-Star break having won 14 of their last 16 games.