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NBA Toronto Raptors DeAndre Daniels

DeAndre Daniels Battled Back From Injury The With The Raptors 905

The Toronto Raptors unsigned second round draft pick DeAndre Daniels (pictured above with Raptors 905 announcer Meghan McPeak) has been out of sight and mostly out of mind since heading over to Perth Australia in the fall of 2014 and when a Jones fracture of his right foot caused him to miss NBA Summer League last July, this NCAA Tournament Champion fell completely off the radar. However, he’s battled back to play in the last few NBA D-League games of the Mississauga Raptors 905 season and he plans to play with the Raptors this summer.

DeAndre Daniels interview:

 

The Raptors drafted Daniels 37th overall after the forward had played some of the best basketball of his college career in leading UConn to a National Championship. However, the team really didn’t have an open roster spot for a developing young forward with their very raw first round pick Bruno Caboclo on board.

So it was off to Australia where he missed the preseason with an elbow injury, but playing in Perth was good for Daniels. The 6’8 forward needed to transition his game to the small forward spot and his new team was very accommodating.

“It was for me to develop my game and just grow up and mature,” Daniels told Pro Bball Report. “I got to play the three the whole time. They wanted me to go out there and play the three and learn the position and it went pretty well.

“Focus on everything overall, guarding the three, guarding smaller guys, mainly stuff with defense. Reading defenses, coming off screens.”

The foot injury occurred after Daniels returned to North America and was a huge setback costing him nearly the entire season this year.

“I’ve been off for like seven months now,” Daniels said. “I’ve played like four or five games and they’ve helped me a lot. Just to get up and down and get in the rhythm of playing in a game. It felt good to be back out there.

“I’m not quite 100 percent yet. I just have to get my whole leg back stronger. It’s kind of weak. Just work on my leg and get ready for Summer League.”

Even though he was a second round pick, expectations were pretty high for Daniels coming out of college. The NBA is looking for stretch-forwards and Daniels was shooting 41.7 percent from three-point range in his final college season.

“Everyone is going to look and see if I can shoot the ball, but mainly I am just focused on defense, locking my guy down and rebounding the basketball,” Daniels said. “Worry about the rest later, it will come. That’s what I do, I’m a shooter.

“Good times are definitely going to come for sure.”

It’s been a painful couple of years since Daniels was drafted. An elbow in Perth and the foot last summer, but the 24-year-old has used the time he’s had to work on the things he has needed to improve on. It will be very interesting to get a read on his progress during the NBA Summer League in July.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


NBA D-League Raptors 905 Scott Suggs

Scott Suggs Was The Raptors 905 Best Player

Washington Huskies guard Scott Suggs was the biggest contributor to the Raptors 905 inaugural season in Mississauga. He was the only player to see action in all 50 of the team’s games and he led the team in scoring with 898 points, 355 more points than the Toronto Raptors sophomore Bruno Caboclo who was second in total points scored with the team playing in 37 games.

NBA call up Axel Toupane struggled mightily early in the season and only played in 32 games with the 905. Fellow call up Greg Smith spent only 17 games with the team and Ronald Roberts Jr strong season was cut short by injury just as the call ups to the NBA were happening. However, Suggs was close to being a call up as well if someone wanted to try out a legitimate three-point threat.

“We have a roster of guys that are probably going to be sought after for (NBA) Summer League,” Raptors 905 general manager Dan Tolzman said. “If anything we’ve put our team on the map, (and) given the guys here very good opportunity to showcase what they can do.

“Guys like Scott Suggs, he is as close as anybody on the wing in the D-League.”

This was the 26-year-old Suggs third professional season having played in the D-League right after college and in France last year. Picking up on the obvious skill he brought from the college ranks, Suggs was the one guy head coach Jesse Mermuys knew he’d have available that could put points on the board.

Suggs led his team in minutes played (1801 minutes), 411 more minutes than guard Shannon Scott who played in 48 games and he put those minutes to good use. A proficient three-point threat since college, he lead his team with 315 three-point attempts and made 41.9 percent of them.

Call downs from the Toronto Raptors like Norman Powell and Delon Wright would crowd into Suggs minutes, but Mermuys never really got away from his reliable “veteran” all season. Taking the season as a whole, Suggs was the best player the 905 had.

 

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Ronald Roberts Jr

Can Raptors 905 Ronald Roberts Jr Make The NBA?

Raptors 905 top prospect Ronald Roberts Jr saw his season cut short by injury at the All-Star break, but by that point the Toronto Raptors training camp invite had rocketed up the NBA D-League prospects list and was on the cusp of joining teammates Axel Toupane and Greg Smith as NBA call-ups.

“I felt like my season went really well,” Roberts said. “Honestly, I owe a lot to Coach Jesse (Mermuys). He had a lot of faith in me and he just believed in me and he let me do a lot of things out there that coaches in the past didn’t let me do. He let me expand my game and that eventually got me to the top (of the D-League Prospects List) and I went down (to injury).

“I had calls from a few (NBA) teams after I got hurt, a week after I had a few calls from teams, but obviously I couldn’t take them.”

It’s a common theme among the 905 players to give head coach Mermuys credit for letting them expand their game. It took a while for Mermuys to learn how to be a head coach, but he did everything with the development of his players first and foremost in his mind and the results were obvious.

The 6’8 Roberts averaged 18.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks playing at power forward and center for the 905.

Roberts is about to start rehab now that he has recovered from his injury and he plans to play in the NBA Summer League in July.

“I start my rehab on Monday,” Roberts said. “I was on crutches for two weeks and I start six weeks (of rehab) on Monday. I am feeling good. No pain or anything like that. Basically I just have to get my leg stronger before I go play again.

“I don’t know who I am going to play Summer League with, but I’ll be good to go when Summer League starts.”

The Raptors 905 approach should allow the team to successfully recruit a new crop of prospects for next year’s squad. The only unfortunate outcome from the program’s initial success is players like Roberts will likely end up being signed by an NBA team other than Toronto.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


NBA Toronto Raptors Bruno Caboclo

Raptors 905 Made Bruno Caboclo Ready To Be An NBA Rookie

Being two years away from being two years away doesn’t sound so harsh two years after the very young Brazilian forward Bruno Caboclo was drafted 20th overall by the Toronto Raptors. With a full NBA D-League season under his belt, Caboclo is starting to look like Raptors director player personnel and Raptors 905 general manager Dan Tolzman envisioned. Caboclo is starting to look like an NBA rookie.

“(It’s) night and day,” Tolzman said about Caboclo after the 905 season finale. “It’s the type of thing where you see (Caboclo) tonight that big dunk and beyond that I liked the emotion he showed at the beginning of the game, just the fire that he is now playing with is something we never saw out of the guy before and he is now building a little bit of confidence and the types of things that he is doing out on the court. He knows that he is good enough and he’s getting closer and closer to the NBA, ready for the NBA level. You can just see this young man starting to realize what he can really become.

“Some of the highlights he does, they are jaw-dropping sometimes. So it is pretty exciting to see the progress he’s made and to know that he is just scratching the surface. It’s a lot of fun.”

It wasn’t like this last year for Caboclo. With no minutes available on the Raptors and the only D-League option being the non-affiliated Fort Wayne Mad Ants who made it quite clear they didn’t want him, Caboclo’s rookie season was worse than a bust. It was a confidence destroyer. Getting multiple DNP-CDs in the D-League quite clearly signals you aren’t considered as good as an undrafted player.

Fortunately the Raptors got their corporate act together and bought their own NBA D-League team in time for this season.

“At Fort Wayne, they weren’t focused on me,” Caboclo explained. “Here they are more focused on me, so I am more free to play. It’s better to play when you are not scared to miss or you’ll be sat (down).”

“A guy like Bruno, from where he was when we first drafted him and the first year and not having this (D-League Affiliate) and seeing the progress now that he’s made being able to come back and forth (Raptors 905 to Raptors) and not even for games, just practicing with the 905 and being around a group of guys that are kind of at a similar stage that he is and have him be a big name around here, it just builds confidence and gets him comfortable and ready,” Tolzman said. “You can’t even describe how important that is.”

“Bruno’s last two (905) games have been really impressive,” 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys said. “From the beginning of the season to the last two games, he looks like a totally different player. He scored 31 points and he made it look easy and it wasn’t forced, he looked like a player.

“Early on and I think everyone could tell (Caboclo) was pressing so much because I think he felt he was behind. He felt the pressure of man, I wasted a year. I didn’t get to play and you could tell, that was coming out in his play. To see him settle in and take that edge off and really calm down, it has improved his shot selection and decision-making, his passing. Everything because he is so talented and he does work so hard that once we got that (pressing) out of the way, the improvement came pretty rapidly.”

Caboclo was drafted as a project player. A young guy with very limited actual basketball experience. He was drafted based on his obvious natural skills, incredible length, quickness and athleticism. He wasn’t drafted because he had any ideas about what to do in an actual game.

“(Caboclo) just hadn’t played much basketball (before),” Mermuys said. “It’s hard to be thrown in to the NBA not speaking the language, not really playing a lot of basketball. It’s not like he got to play junior high, high school, AAU summer tournament, none of that is there. This guy is playing the first real minutes of his career and absolutely you see where he can get to if he gets that time and he gets that experience.

“When I think back to that first game and (Caboclo) was just all over the place, bouncing around, not really knowing what to do, where to be, throwing up crazy shots and at no point did I ever want to just completely stifle him or demoralize him to where he didn’t want to continue because I knew it was going to be really hard. We tried to be super positive, but at the same time be able to pull him out when we absolutely needed to teach him some lessons and let him calm down.”

The transition was tougher than Caboclo or the Raptors organization let on during the year. Aside from Mermuys admitting early on that Caboclo was expected to be with the 905 for the entire NBA D-League season, there wasn’t any indication of just how far their young forward had to go. The Mad Ants weren’t wrong. Caboclo wasn’t even ready to contribute in a D-League game. However, with a lot of coaching and patience, things changed.

“I remember at the beginning of the season his frustration and you could tell he was visibly upset during the games and that was a carryover from Summer League so we knew that about him,” Mermuys admitted. “I remember a game that was definitely in the second half of the season, I got upset, he took two bad shots in a row, we sat him down and I wanted to see, (so) I looked over to see what what he was doing and he was sitting there like a pro. There was no emotion. There was no frustration. He looked like a guy just engaged in the game waiting his turn to go back in and that was a huge moment for us just to see that growth. He was able to take that criticism because I made it extremely clear that he was being pulled for his shot selection and he was able to handle that and be a pro and when I put him back in he helped us win that game.”

When asked about the development of his game Caboclo admitted, “I think more mental, basketball I know, still working (on it), but it’s more mental.”

Raptors 905 undoubtedly paid a price for Caboclo’s development in the first half of their inaugural season, but they also reaped the benefits of giving the Raptors young project player a chance in the second half and more importantly, they may have salvaged president and general manager Masai Ujiri’s 2014 first round draft pick. Just maybe he’ll be ready to look like a rookie in the NBA by the start of next season.

“He came in when we first drafted him behind everybody to begin with, so he’s still playing catch-up,” Tolzman said.

“Not that he’s out of the woods, there is a lot of work to be done and we are really excited about getting after it again this summer,” Mermuys said. “He is looking pretty good.

“It’s just really exciting for him and his future. He should feel really excited about next season and this summer now that he’s gotten some experience under his belt. He just looks like a player out there.”

 

 

Caboclo is still only 20-years-old and that incredible length and natural ability remains. IF he can continue to progress on the basketball front, Ujiri will look like he picked a winner – again.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


NBA Toronto Raptors 905 Bruno Caboclo

Bruno Caboclo Breaks Out With The Raptors 905

Bruno Caboclo recorded an NBA Development League career high 31 points en route to a 136-105 Raptors 905 win over the Grand Rapids Drive Monday night at the DeltaPlex Arena in Walker, Michigan. Caboclo led all scorers as he shot 12-20 from the field and knocked down 3 triples to go with his 7 rebounds and career best 5 steals.

 

 

It’s been a productive season for the young forward in the D-League. In 35 games Caboclo has averaged 33.7 minutes, 14.4 points, 12.9 field goal attempts, 6.8 three-point attempts, 6.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks.

“I feel more comfortable,” Caboclo told Pro Bball Report earlier this season. “We have more freedom in the D-League. (Head coach) Jesse (Mermuys) gives (me) a lot of opportunities there. I am trying to do my work, find out what I need to do, so I can improve.”

“(Caboclo) needs playing experience,” Mermuys confirmed. “He needs minutes and he needs us as a coaching staff to help him every single day and be able to live with some mistakes and growing pains.”

Caboclo was drafted 20th overall in 2014 by the Toronto Raptors as a project player with the intention of sending him immediately to the D-League. Unfortunately the Raptors plans to acquire a D-League franchise that summer fell thru and it was largely a lost season for the young forward. These break out games this year with the 905 are very important in helping Caboclo show what he might be capable of in the future.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


Canadian Jordan Bachynski

Canadian Jordan Bachynski Leads Knicks Over Raptors 905

Canadian Jordan Bachynski had a game-high 24 points to lead the Westchester Knicks to a 103-98 win over Raptors 905 Saturday afternoon at Hershey Centre in Mississauga.

Leading Westchester in scoring were Bachynski (24), Cleanthony Early (18), Jimmer Fredette (17), Travis Trice II (12) and Keith Wright (10). Bachynski and Wright each collected double-doubles with 12 and 10 rebounds, respectively, while Fredette also completed a double-double with 11 assists. Scoring in double digits for Raptors 905 were Scott Suggs (23), Davion Berry (21), E.J. Singler (16), Shannon Scott (14) and Sim Bhullar (11).

Bachynski also gave the 905 trouble two days ago in Westchester when he posted a double-double.

The 7’2 center has averaged 12.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 46 games for Westchester this season.

 

 

 


NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 DeAndre Daniels

NBA Prospect DeAndre Daniels Struggling With Raptors 905

The Toronto Raptors unsigned second round draft pick DeAndre Daniels has been struggling to find his game with the Raptors 905 in Mississauga. Daniels missed the 2015 NBA Summer League due to a Jones fracture in his right foot and he only recently returned to limited action with the Raptors NBA D-League affiliate.

It’s been five games since he first starting playing basketball again and the results suggest we shouldn’t be expecting too much before Summer League rolls around again in July. In his first four games, the 23-year-old forward only managed to average 11.3 minutes, 3 points and 3.3 rebounds. Then playing in his fifth game at the Hersey Center on Saturday, nothing really changed as he went 1-6 from the field for 3 points and 5 boards in 16 minutes.

This season has been a big setback for Daniels who played 30 games with the Perth Wildcats in Australia last year and averaged 14.8 points and 7.7 rebounds in 30.7 minutes, but at least he got back on the court before it was over.

Daniels is a 6’8 forward drafted by the Raptors 37th overall in 2014 who played three seasons with the Connecticut Huskies.

 

 


NBA Toronto Raptors Bruno Caboclo

Bruno Caboclo Is Learning Fast With Raptors 905

Bruno Caboclo is most famously known as being “two years away from being two years away,” but that was before Toronto had their own NBA D-League affiliate. Last year Caboclo had a terrible experience with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, but this year he’s been learning fast with the Mississauga Raptors 905. Pro Bball Report caught up with Caboclo at the Air Canada Centre recently and just maybe the 905 has put those first two years in the rearview mirror for Caboclo.

“The Mad Ants wasn’t a team from the Raptors, so they were focused on other guys, but here they are more focused on us and we can develop our game,” Caboclo said.

Last week we got a taste of just how far that development has come.

 

 

Caboclo scored 29 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against the D-League team that pretty much refused to play him last season. He shot 10-17 from the field and dropped 5-7 three-pointers. It was a game indicative of just how far he has progressed over this season.

With the 905 Caboclo gets to play, whether he’s having a good game or not. He has averaged 33.4 minutes, 14.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, a steal and 1.6 blocks in 30 games. His shooting has improved over the season to 44.8 percent from two-point range and 34.7 percent from three-point range (and those numbers were pretty terrible at the start of the season.) It’s been exactly what he’s needed to develop his game.

“I feel more comfortable,” Caboclo said. “We have more freedom in the D-League. (Head coach) Jesse (Mermuys) gives (me) a lot of opportunities there. I am trying to do my work, find out what I need to do, so I can improve.

“I always play(ed) on the outside, but now I have more opportunities. (It is) easier close to the basket, in the paint. Open shots are easy too, but it depends on the situation. Who is guarding you, if they are a good defender.

“I feel more comfortable playing small forward because I haven’t played much at power forward, but I am getting used to it now and I feel better at both small forward and power forward.

“If you are able to play at other (positions) it is better for you, you can get have more (of a) chance.”

Caboclo may have lost a year because the Raptors didn’t have their own D-League affiliate (as planned) last season, but this was never a short term project. Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri admittedly swung for the fences by taking Caboclo with the 20th overall draft pick two summers ago.

“It is going to take Bruno a little while,” Ujiri said after the 2014 draft. “I’m sure when you see him you’ll feel the excitement that we feel having a young player like that – that loves to work, is a basketball junkie, just loves to play basketball all day. I think that will be fun for our team, another young player like that. A 6’9 wing with a 7’ 6.5” wingspan, shoots the ball with good confidence. (He) needs to gain weight, there is some good upside there. In the 20s, he is a good risk to take.”

“(Caboclo) needs playing experience,” Mermuys told Pro Bball Report earlier this season. “He needs minutes and he needs us as a coaching staff to help him every single day and be able to live with some mistakes and growing pains.”

The big Brazilian kid won’t be 21-years-old until September, but he’s put on some weight since he was drafted and remains a physical specimen in terms of height and length. Add an improving shooting stroke and it’s still easy to project/imagine Caboclo as an impact NBA player at some point. The best news is Caboclo really is learning fast with the 905 and the improvement is obvious.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Greg Smith

Raptors 905 Loses Greg Smith To The Timberwolves

Another one bites the dust. Raptors 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys must be doing a really good job as his team has just lost another player to the NBA. Center Greg Smith is being called up to the Minnesota Timberwolves on a 10 day contract.

The Raptors 905 had just found out Axel Toupane is heading to the Denver Nuggets on a 10 day contract to make this the second player about to leave for nothing on the same day.

Smith has played in parts of the last four NBA seasons with Houston and Dallas totaling 131 games. He has averaged 4.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 12.5 minutes over that period.

With the 905 this season, the 25-year-old Smith has averaged 12.6 points, 8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 27.6 minutes over 17 games.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Axel Toupane

Raptors 905 Losing Axel Toupane To The Denver Nuggets

The Toronto Raptors liked undrafted Axel Toupane enough to give him a training camp invite, some guaranteed money and a spot on their NBA D-League affiliate Mississauga Raptors 905. They saw the potential in the 6’7 wing from France, invested the time and money into developing him and now they may lose him for nothing as the Denver Nuggets call him up to the NBA on a 10 day contract.

The Raptors knew the risks associated with developing players in the 905, NBA teams hold no rights to players in the D-League who are not part of their 15 man NBA roster, but this still has to hurt. Toupane didn’t look like a guy who be playing in the NBA anytime soon when he got here.

The big wing only played in two very forgettable preseason games with the Raptors, totaling 21.5 minutes and shooting 0-2 from the field to collect 0 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 personal fouls.

His first month with the Mississauga Raptors 905 didn’t exactly lead one to believe he’d be NBA bound now either. Those first three games in November saw him shooting 29.3 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from three-point range. He looked overmatched and not quite ready here as well.

Things started to change by December and in January he put out some big time efforts that earned him a shot at the next level.

A 25 point and 10 assist night against the Vipers in early January likely caught someone’s attention,

Then a couple of 30 point nights against the BayHawks suggested he was taking his game up another notch,

In January, Toupane averaged 17.5 points on 43.6 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 33.8 minutes over 11 games. His numbers are down a bit in February, but in his last game he scored 23 points on 6-8 shooting.

Toupane has the look of an NBA prospect. Hopefully he gets some minutes in Denver to see if he’s got the potential to be an NBA player.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Sim Bhullar & Axel Toupane

7’5 Canadian Sim Bhullar Breaks Out With The Raptors 905

When you are 7’5, professional basketball teams tend to take notice and the giant Canadian big man Sim Bhullar is going to get a lot of chances to make it to the NBA. This year those chances started with a new commitment to his sport playing as close to home as possible with the Mississauga Raptors 905 NBA Development League team.

Being that big has meant Bhullar never really had to worry about his conditioning in college, but just being unimaginably huge isn’t enough to cut it at the next level and this year he finally started to take things seriously. His ability to stay on the court in a faster paced game didn’t happen overnight, but in the five games since the D-League All-Star break Bhullar has been averaging 33.6 minutes, 17.4 points on 70.2 percent shooting, 13 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.4 blocks.

“I am playing so much better than I was earlier in the year,” Bhullar said. “Taking the time off and becoming a better player, doing the right things off the court and I think that’s really affecting my game and I am playing a lot better now.”

Bhullar came into the Mississauga 905 training camp focused on getting into better shape. His new team set down rules and expectations and Bhullar didn’t even travel with the club early in the season so he could concentrate on his training.

“This organization means business,” Raptors 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys said. “We brought him here and we had conditions in place with his agent, with Canada Basketball and we are not going to be lax on that. We are committed to the process and I’m sure it was tough, but we are not really going to let up until he gets to where he needs to be.”

“I kind of have to get the college mindset out,” Bhullar explained prior to the start of the season. “I stopped eating junk food and stuff like that. I kind of grew up a little bit and now I am on a good diet and got rid of the bad habits and it’s been good so far.”

The process has been paying off. Bhullar only played in nine games in his first two months with the 905, averaging about 13 minutes, 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds as he just wasn’t in any condition to play. Mermuys had to restrict Bhullar to shifts that were no longer than about 3 minutes as his center was gasping for air after just a few trips up and down the court. It wasn’t your typical approach to player development, but it’s never been about his skills that coaches have worried about.

“It gives me time to refresh myself and I know Coach is going to put me right back into the game,” Bhullar said at the time. “So, it’s just go in there and work your hardest and get on the bench and get some water and get some rest and get right ready to go right back in there.”

Mermuys started ramping up Bhullar’s number of games and minutes in January as the center played in 10 games, started 5 and averaged about 19 minutes, those minutes increasing as the month rolled along to over 24 minutes per game in the last 5 games of the month.

Bhullar’s opportunity to play an even bigger role came towards the end of January when NBA D-League top-ranked ranked prospect Ronald Roberts Jr. was sidelined with a right knee strain.

Roberts was averaging 18.1 points and 12.1 rebounds for Mermuys and the 905 coach suddenly needed someone to pick up the slack and Bhullar was tagged with the job. Since the All-Star break, Bhullar has done just that.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA D-League Raptors 905 John Jordan

Raptors 905 Guard John Jordan Wins Slam Dunk Contest

Mississauga Raptors 905 5’10 guard Johns Jordan soared high in the air to pound in three perfect dunks on route to winning the NBA D-League Slam Dunk contest at NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto.

A bounce pass to himself for the behind the back slam, followed by bounce pass to himself for the two-handed windmill and then a pass off the backboard for the reverse windmill wowed the judges for three perfect scores. His final dunk was a spinning jam that secured the victory.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors 905 Delon Wright

Rookie Delon Wright Is Proving Raptors 905 Works

By Frank McLean

The Toronto Raptors invested heavily into their NBA D-League team Raptors 905 for one reason and one reason only and that’s to properly develop their draft picks.

After having to send players in the past to NBDL teams in which they had no control over how their players were developed or who the coach was, the Raptors now have that ability with 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys. Mermuys coaches the Raptors draft picks the exact same way Dwane Casey runs the show at the Air Canada Centre with the idea that players can slip right in and help the Raptors in a pinch.

This is exactly how it has worked for Raptors first round pick Delon Wright.

Wright, a guard, was the 20th overall pick in last June’s draft after spending two years with the University of Utah of the Pacific-12 Conference.

It’s easy to find gems in the draft when you have a lottery pick, the first five-to-ten picks in the first round are usually someone who can help somewhat right away. It’s those later picks where you get someone who you know is good but needs to develop their game.

On draft night Dwane Casey was very happy to get a player of Wright’s ability at the 20th spot.

“We watched a lot of film on him, ” Casey said. “Our scouts watched him intensely. He’s one of the top point guards in the draft.

“He has tremendous upside as a point guard. He reminds me of Nate MacMillan, a guy we had in Seattle who can play multiple positions.”

Wright has worn out a path driving between the Air Canada Centre and suburban Mississauga where 905’s play.

In 12 games in the D-league he has averaged 37 minutes per game, 18 points, five rebounds and seven assists. The numbers show that the potential Raptors scouting director and 905 general manager Dan Tolzman saw in him when he was beating bushes for talent in the NCAA last winter.

“Delon’s play is very solid,” Mermuys said echoing what Casey said on draft night. “I just think because he has a lot of expectations out of this organization where they are fans of his ability as a player, what we see for him in the future it’s probably going to be rare for me to come out here applauding his game, his effort just because we have extremely high expectations. I’m always going to be wanting more.”

When you talk to Wright he is an extremely soft spoken person, very polite and did not come to Toronto with an attitude. He is a rookie that knows the protocol when you come to the NBA is to keep quiet and just observe. His older brother Dorell was selected in the draft out of high school by the Miami Heat and also played with the Portland Trail Blazers, so Delon knew the drill of NBA life before he ever got there.

Wright also knows he is the NBDL for a reason and when you talk to him he is embracing it.

“I think they have me down here for a reason to help my career and try to figure out how to be better,” Wright said. “I’m working on my ball screens and to be a better leader.”

Other Raptors players have gone down to the 905 squad and have been called back to big team and have made contributions like Lucas Nogueira. That has not been lost on Wright.

“When you see a guy like Lucas, he’s been here for two years and he gets a chance to go up and play with the Raptors, I have got be ready when I get my chance,” Wright added.

The Wright selection in draft gives the Raptors insurance at the guard position. He is fourth on the depth chart behind DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph.

DeRozan is expected to opt out of his contract this summer and it’s expected the Raptors will make an offer to keep him. It’s a no brainer, but strange things happen in sports and if DeRozan does not return to Toronto, and I’m only speculating and I don’t expect that to happen, but if he doesn’t, Wright moves up the depth chart.

He can also be used as trade bait if the Raptors so see fit if they feel they are one player away from being a championship contender.

Either way the Raptors have plans for Wright and their program with the Raptors 905 is getting him ready for prime time.

 

 

Frank McLean - small sizeVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Ronald Roberts Jr.

Should Raptors Make Room For Ronald Roberts Jr.

When the Toronto Raptors invited forward Ronald Roberts Jr. to training camp he was the odds-on favorite to win the 15th and final spot on the roster. The Raptors had guaranteed him $75,000 for showing up, but then Canadian forward Anthony Bennett was signed and Roberts was destined to play for the Mississauga Raptors 905.

It wasn’t anything Roberts had done or not done. He looked good in preseason. There just wasn’t an open spot for him on the roster. However, Toronto wasn’t wrong to be interested in this very athletic forward. As the best player on the 905, he’s worked his way up to second place on the NBA D-League Prospect Watch List.

NBA D-League Raptors 905 Ronald Roberts Jr

At some point in the near future, the Raptors are going to have to make a decision. Either they make room for their prospect in Toronto or Roberts is going to get called up from the D-League by another NBA team and they could lose him for nothing.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, Roberts has been a player to watch since he went undrafted in 2014.

Draft Express, L.A. Clippers Mini-Combine Recap and Analysis

Roberts proved to be the best athlete at the workout, and possibly one of the best athletes in the entire draft, finishing a monster dunk after ripping baseline from the short corner.

Roberts has potential, however, due to his freakish athleticism and nice frame. He’s another player a few NBA teams would like to get on their D-League team to see if they can develop his skill-level a bit and improve his rebounding technique.

In the D-League, Roberts has gone from a suspect rebounder at St. Joseph’s to a beast on the boards. He’s even starting to develop a jump shot. With the 905 this season, he’s averaging 18.7 points on 61.2 percent shooting, 12.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks playing at the power forward and center spots.

The rationale for the Raptors to consider making room for him with the big club is solid. He went through training camp with the team and 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys is running the same plays as Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. Roberts won’t be lost stepping into practices at the Air Canada Centre.

“It’s pretty much the same,” Roberts told Pro Bball Report earlier this season. “They try to implement the same rules and different schemes defensively and offensively has the same sets and stuff. It’s pretty much the same (as in Toronto). Obviously, the competition in the NBA is way better, but I would say that would be the major difference. As far as coaching, I would say everything is pretty much the same.”

While he is still a work in progress, he is an energy guy and that is something that often translates to the next level while the skills catch up.

“I play with great energy,” Roberts said. “I try to rebound, finish, shoot an open jumper and try to drive by a guy if I’m playing the four or try to post up a guy if I’m playing the five. I’m pretty interchangeable. I’ve just got to look at my match-up and see what I feel I can do best against him whether it’s on the perimeter or down low.”

There is no denying how good Roberts has looked at the Development League level. The Raptors have decisions to make.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA D-League Westchester Knicks Jimmer Fredette

Jimmer Fredette Alive And Well With The Westchester Knicks

By Frank McLean

The thing I have learned about having an NBA-DL team in my neighbourhood is that the opponents might bring someone who you would put in the where are they now category.

Saturday night I made my way to Hershey Centre in Mississauga to see the Raptors 905 take on the Westchester Knicks who brought Jimmer Fredette with them. – “Jimmer”

Back in 2011 Jimmer was the hottest thing in Division One NCAA college basketball with Brigham Young University. His senior year was magical at best.

In 37 games that season, which included making it as far as the Sweet-16 of the NCAA tournament where BYU lost to Florida, Fredette averaged 35.8-minutes a game and led all of Division One with an average 28.9 points per game.

He was a legend at BYU. His name became a verb. If he had a game where he scored a ton of points BYU fans would chant “YOU GOT JIMMERED”! It all started when BYU appeared in a nationally televised game against San Diego State where he dropped 43 points and instantly became a national celebrity.

He was named First Team All-American and was a first round pick, 10th overall, by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2011 NBA draft. The Bucks would then trade him to the Sacramento Kings in a three way deal which also involved the Charlotte Bobcats.

In Sacramento “JIMMERMANIA” became the rage.

Sales of his jersey resulted in a 540-percent increase in merchandise sales involving the Kings. His number seven Kings jersey sold out in stores in the Sacramento area, as well as online, but by February 2014, the Kings had bought out Jimmer’s contract.

Fredette’s NBA journey would see him sign with the Chicago Bulls for the rest of that season and spend 2014-15 with the New Orleans Pelicans. Then on October 31st, Fredette was selected second overall by the Westchester Knicks in the NBA Development League draft.

For nine days in November Fredette was brought back by the Pelicans to help the team deal with numerous injuries. The Pelicans used an NBA hardship exemption in order to sign him as he made their roster stand at 16 players, one over the allowed limit of 15.

However, the knock on Fredette has been he was just a shooter and not much else. Defense has not been a big part of his game. His NBA stats line has him averaging only 13.5 minutes and six points a game.

Westchester is one of the top teams in the NBA-DL loop this season. After losing to the Raptors 905 on Saturday night their record dropped to 14-10, but that is still good enough to lead the Atlantic Division.

Fredette is putting up numbers and is a main cog in their success. He is playing an average of 37 minutes a night and averaging 23 points a game. When I talked to him after Saturday’s game, I found a 26-year-old with a big smile on his face and a terrific attitude even though he is toiling in a bus league.

“I’m just getting an opportunity to go out and play,” Fredette said. “I’m trying to help the team as much as I can and show people I can play and still try and get better. That’s what this is, having a good time, enjoying the guys and just playing.”

Fredette did get to spend the preseason trying out with the San Antonio Spurs and playing for Greg Popovich which was a positive experience. He was cut by the Spurs and when Popovich released him he was very positive in his critique of Fredette.

Popovich told Fredette that he did a good job and it wasn’t anything that he did wrong and that he was cut because they were looking for a bigger wing.

“I gave an effort,” Fredette said. “I got better as a player. I’m a professional and I’m excited looking forward.”

Walking away after the interview you could not help but like Fredette, the guy is just positive. At 26-years of age, the cut-throat world of professional basketball has not killed his youthful zeal for the sport.

I hope he gets one more shot at the NBA. I hate to see this guy become basketball’s version Tim Tebow, a Heisman Trophy winner as the best player in NCAA football and a bust as a professional.

 

 

Frank McLean - small sizeVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

Canadian Jordan Bachynski

Canadian Jordan Bachynski Having A Big Time Year

Canadian center Jordan Bachynski was a shot blocking machine as a senior at Arizona State in 2013-14, but that wasn’t enough to get him drafted that summer by the NBA. He’s big, a legit 7’2 250 lbs and he’s outgoing, friendly and coachable, however, he was almost 25-years-old heading into the draft. Bachynski ended up signing with the NBA D-League Westchester Knicks last season. A year later and the big Canadian was ready to show his stuff.

“At the beginning of this year my coaches really encouraged me to run because I run very well for my size,” Bachynski told Pro Bball Report. “So, that’s been a huge focus for me to run the floor and get ahead of guys because I’m a lot faster than a lot of the bigs out there and even if I don’t get the ball, what happens is opponents see they have to come and guard me and it opens up so much for us.

“Every possession I’m working at running and I put a lot of time in the weight room and gained a lot of weight and I’m keeping it on and feeling strong and feeling good.”

Just from appearances, Bachynski looks in better shape than he did coming out of college and the weight gain is backed up by official (unbiased) measurements. He weighed 254 lbs at the NBA Draft Combine in 2014 and upped that to 265 lbs at the D-League Elite Camp heading into this season. Although he seems more focused on speed rather than strength.

“Any way I can help my team,” Bachynski said. “One of the ways I do is to sprint down and make those wings, those guards guard me and I get deep post position or it makes my guards open for three on the wing.”

Bachynski is one of the returning players from the Westchester Knicks initial season and the New York Knicks have set this program up right. The Knicks are looking to develop players and build those bonds so players they don’t have the ability to hang on to don’t want to leave for another team.

“The Westchester Knicks do a great job taking care of us,” Bachynski said. “We have a really great setup. It’s one of if not the best setup in the D-League. We practice in the Knicks facility. We have a full-time athletic trainer so any bumps or bruises we get we have someone to take care of us. We have top-notch housing and on top of that our coaches here, he’s a phenomenal coach. I love playing for him. I am happy I’m with Westchester.”

Remembering the D in D-League stands for development, every player including Bachynski is hoping for a bigger payday somewhere else, but Bachynski sees himself as a future NBA player and after watching him run the court at his size that’s not an unrealistic goal.

“Obviously my goal is to get to the NBA and I honestly believe I’m an NBA player.”

NBA D-League Jordan Bachynski

The Toronto Raptors had brought him in for a predraft workout and invited him to Summer League. So, not surprisingly, the Raptors 905 were very interested in acquiring the big Canadian this past summer, but Westchester wasn’t about to let him go and they were right.

“He’s having a big time year,” Raptors 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys said. “We had talked about trying – obviously we had him in Summer League. We like him. He’s Canadian. We wanted to explore possibly bringing him in to this team and they (Westchester) were not having it. They wanted him and that was the right move by them because he’s having a big time year for them.

“Defensively he’s been good for them and his scoring is up and he’s obviously developing his game. He’s a load. He’s a big boy. He’s tough. He’s not soft at all. You have to battle, fight for position.”

“At college my game was very one-sided,” Bachynski said. “I was a back to the basket big who defended really well and defense has been my token, that’s what I do and the (Knicks) have really encouraged me to develop my defensive presence, but have also encouraged me to learn how to be a better offensive player and I think that’s one thing the triangle has really helped me with. It’s helped me when I get the ball to slow down, take a breath, see all my options and if I see an open man, I’m hitting him, I’m not a black hole like a lot of bigs. I try and spread the ball around and make the best possible play.”

Bachynski is getting noticed. Averaging 13.3 points on 59.5 percent shooting, 6.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 2.8 blocks in 26.1 minutes over 24 games with Westchester this season, he is currently rated 12th on the NBA D-League Prospects Watch List.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors 905 Bruno Caboclo

Raptors Bruno Caboclo Still Only Looks Like Kevin Durant

The Toronto Raptors wasted no time in assigning sophomore Bruno Caboclo to the Raptors 905 NBA D-League team this season, after all, that was the plan they had hoped to follow last year if they could have acquired a D-League affiliate a little quicker. Caboclo might look like another Kevin Durant off the court and in practice sessions, but his lack of professional experience means this 20-year-old forward still has a long ways to go before being NBA-ready.

Raptors 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys on Bruno Caboclo:

 

“You have that length and talent and you look like Kevin Durant, but you just haven’t had that same reps, that same coaching and the same anything growing up,” Raptors 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys told Pro Bball Report in this exclusive one-on-one behind the scenes interview. “(Caboclo) needs playing experience, he needs minutes and he needs us as a coaching staff to help him every single day and be able to live with some mistakes and growing pains and I thought we’ve done that so far and as long as he just trusts us and is patient with the process.

“Everybody just needs to slow down and just let this thing happen and when he’s ready, if he does it the right way and doesn’t try and rush it, he’ll be ready.”

Caboclo has enjoyed some good outings with the 905 and some equally terrible appearances as he has averaged 14.3 points on 38.1 percent shooting from the field and 29.5 percent shooting from three-point range in 32.3 minutes through 16 games. His defense has been ahead of his offense in most games as he’s averaged 5.4 rebounds, a steal and 1.7 blocked shots. There is no disguising the potential of all that natural length and bounce.

 

 

The 905 has been good for Caboclo. He looks a lot happier than he did after last year’s disastrous experience with the independent D-League Mad Ants as the 905 coaching staff ensures he gets his minutes and his touches pretty much no matter what happens during individual games. After a full season in the NBA D-League playing significant minutes, just maybe Caboclo will have caught up enough to look like a productive NBA rookie next season.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors 905 Delon Wright

Raptors Rookie Delon Wright Scores 33 Points With 905

Toronto Raptors rookie point guard Delon Wright went off for 33 points on 13-22 shooting from the field in a 905 loss to the Sioux Falls Skyforce in Mississauga on Saturday afternoon 104-88. The Skyforce won all four quarters against the Raptors 905 in front of a huge crowd (5,209) at the Hersey Centre.

 

 

The 905 roster included two other players sent down from the Toronto Raptors, Lucas Nogueira and Bruno Caboclo. Nogueira had 8 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in 40 minutes. Caboclo had a very rough afternoon shooting 0-11 from the field and failing to record a point.

 

 

NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Ashton Smith

Canadian Ashton Smith From DII College To The Raptors 905

Canadian guard Ashton Smith was a star in division two college hoops and that isn’t the usual path to the professional ranks, but Smith has managed to keep his pro hopes alive since graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2012. This season he landed a job as a 26-year-old veteran guard with the very young expansion Mississauga Raptors 905 of the NBA D-League.

Smith discusses his path to the Raptors 905 in this Pro Bball Report exclusive,

 

“I went to IUP, Indiana of Pennsylvania,” Smith confirmed. “It’s a DII. We had a pretty good program. I won 104 games over there. I was conference player of the year. I was All-American. I broke the assist record. I had a pretty good college career.

“I tried overseas for a year (after college). It didn’t really work out the way I wanted it too and I had an opportunity to play in the NBL Canadian League and I thought it would be a good idea to be closer to home.

“I came back home and was able to play in front of my friends, my family.

“Just the passion for the game. Just playing and knowing if you play well or continue to grow you will be able to get opportunities like this (in the NBA D-League).

“It’s a lot different (now). This is high level obviously. It’s like the NBA. A lot of the stuff like the coaching, just the tutelage and watching film and the training is a lot different. It’s a lot more everyday, everyday grind and the guys are a lot more athletic, a lot more talented.

“I think I am getting better everyday. Coach Jesse and the coaches working with me and just playing around and being with better guys in practice everyday is making me better.

“I love it (here). The Raptors are a big deal right now and we are a big deal right now. We have Bruno (Caboclo) and Delon (Wright) down here, so that brings a lot of excitement. That brings the level of competition up in practice. That helps me, helps everybody get better when those guys come down and play.”

Smith has got into six games with the Mississauga Raptors 905 so far this season and the excitement Wright or Raptors guard Norman Powell bring to the games and practices also means Smith isn’t going to play. Still this a huge step up for Smith from the NBL. It has to be genuinely exciting for a DII college player from Scarborough to be this close to the NBA.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Norman Powell

Norman Powell Goes Off For 30 Points With Raptors 905

Well it only took one game for Toronto Raptors rookie Norman Powell to shake off the rust and find his offense with the Raptors 905 in Mississauga. Powell went off for 30 points on 12-18 shooting to lead all scorers in a 905 win over the 87ers 105-94 in game two of the weekend back-to-back at home.

This was a big improvement over his Saturday debut against these same 87ers. In his first D-League game, Powell shot 9-22 from the field for 23 points in a 124-115 Raptors 905 loss.

“It gets the rust off,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “I know there are a lot of plays Norm had (with the Toronto Raptors) that if he had the rust off he could have completed some of the plays. Just because of the timing, the rust and everything else is still there, that he hadn’t had the chance to go against live competition, he’s made some mistakes. It is nothing but a positive to be able to go down (to the D-League) and do that.”

It sure didn’t take Powell long to lose some of that rust.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.