Gradey Dick aims to make an instant impact for his new team.
The Toronto Raptors selected Dick with the 13th overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday. The Kansas Jayhawks product averaged 14.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in his lone season playing NCAA basketball.
“I think the biggest thing that I can really provide and my biggest goal coming into this is making an instant impact early,” Dick told reporters in Toronto over Zoom donning a shining red suit with a Raptors fitted cap. “Coming into a team, especially like Toronto, and bring that shooting ability, the thing I take pride in the most.
“I actually just got off FaceTime with Scottie (Barnes) and a player like him where he could kind of do a lot of different things versatile-wise, bringing a combo like that and the things that I do.”
The six-foot-eight, 205-pound guard shot 40.3 per cent from three-point range with Kansas, a sore spot for the Raptors in 2022-2023, who finished 28th in the NBA in three-point percentage.
General manager Bobby Webster said the team had Dick in a group of his own among the shooters available when it came time for Toronto to make its pick.
“I’m sure we’ll see how it all plays out over the next couple of years,” he told reporters at the Raptors’ practice facility. “I think probably the size, shooting, IQ probably stood out a bit.”
“I think that was it, he’s not just a shooter,” Webster added. “He knows how to play off the ball, he knows how to make backdoor cuts, he could pass well, he rebounds well. So I think he’s more of a well-rounded player even though he’s probably gonna get pegged early as just a shooter.”
It is the third time Toronto has had a lottery selection in the past decade. The Raptors finished 41-41 this past season, having missed the playoffs for the second time in four years after falling in the play-in tournament to the Chicago Bulls.
It was also the Raptors’ lone pick of the draft. Toronto traded its second-round pick in the deal that brought centre Jakob Poeltl over from San Antonio at the trade deadline in February.
Dick pointed to his selfless attitude and competitive spirit, among other things, that he also looks to bring to the team.
And a chance to play for new Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic is something that excites the rookie.
“I met him for the first time there (in Toronto) towards the end of my workout and just knew right then from there … if I ended up here, it would’ve been a super fun time just with him around and his personality and my personality getting along really well,” Dick said.
“That’s why I’m sitting here so excited and ready to hit the ground running when I get there (Toronto).”
He also referred to Toronto as one of his favourite visits in the pre-draft process.
“A couple of weeks ago, I was really working out with the team and seeing the city for the first time, I couldn’t think of a better place for me to get drafted to,” Dick said. “Just the city and the people combined, it’s amazing.”
The Raptors sit in a place of uncertainty with starting point guard Fred VanVleet and Poeltl both being free agents this off-season.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, assistant GM and VP of player personnel Dan Tolzman said Toronto was considering moving up in the draft, drawing a question of whether the team would shift its direction.
However, the Raptors stayed put on Thursday.
“No, I think we have some big free agents,” Webster said when asked about the possibility of going into next year with the same core group and having not made any big trades. “Next week we’ll be able to decide, we’ll talk to them and see where they are.
“Enjoy another week (of the) news cycle of rumours and gossip.”
However, Webster did say the team will further address its shooting this off-season.
“I don’t think you could ever add too much shooting,” he said. “You could just stack it on top of each other.
“The other part is, could they play on the other end, can they do other things too?”