Raptors 905 and Team Canada guard Brady Heslip is a proven scorer, but that hasn’t gotten him more than a couple of NBA training camp invites so far. Undersized to play at shooting guard and little experience running a team, 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse has been putting the ball in Heslip’s hands with noticeable success. All that seems to be standing in his way now is figuring out how to be effective doing the dirty work at the defensive end of the court.
“When Fred (VanVleet) is not here, it’s his ball and he knows it,” Stackhouse told Pro Bball Report after the first game at the D-League Showcase. “I think he’s done a good job at running the team, 19 points, 6 assists and no turnovers. Sounds like a helluva point guard to me.
“I am still trying to get him to take a charge. If he can take a charge, I don’t know what I’d do. It’s the next level for him, being able to do some of the dirty work. That’s what point guards in this league have to do. They have to come in and take charges to give their team momentum when they are grinding it out.
“I am happy with his improvement and progress. He just has to continue to get better.”
Heslip is having a solid season while learning to play the point for the 905. He is the team’s starting point guard when the Raptors rookie Fred VanVleet isn’t around and as Stackhouse mentioned, he’s been good. In 13 starts, Heslip is averaging 16.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals. As expected, he puts up over 10 threes a game and hits over 40 percent of them.
He’s looked good coming off the bench as well when he plays a bit more off the ball. In 13 games as a reserve in reduced minutes, he averages 11.4 points and 2.2 assists, but he’s shooting 45 percent from three as he doesn’t have to create his own shot or create for others as often.
His scoring is well down from his season with the D-League Reno Bighorns when he averaged 24.5 points per game, but as Stackhouse points out, those weren’t very meaningful numbers.
“I think he would tell you himself, that was rag tag basketball,” Stackhouse said. “Just running up and down and shooting. Not trying to defend and just taking a shot in the first four or five seconds.
“I am pretty sure he is having more fun and where we are going now is more geared to what another NBA team is doing. This is better for him for sure.”
Playing in Mississauga has been a good experience for Heslip and if he doesn’t get a 10-day tryout in the the NBA out of it, at the very least he’ll be a lot better guard for Team Canada this summer.