The Raptors newest point guard Dwight Buycks has been scoring the rock since he went to high school at Bay View in Milwaukee Wisconsin where he was the first player in school history to score over 1,000 points. The scoring continued in junior college where he netted 1,254 points over two seasons for Indian Hills and led his team to a conference championship and a National tournament appearance.
However, things changed for Buycks in his final two college seasons at Marquette. He went from being the go-to-scorer on his team to a sixth man in his first season with the Golden Eagles and he had to learn how to become more of a traditional point guard.
Andrew Gruman of Fox Sports Wisconsin caught up with the now 24-year-old Buycks at a Milwaukee Bucks mini-camp in June to talk about his college experiences and the long and winding road that the young guard hoped would lead back to the NBA.
“It was a learning process for me, coming from junior college,” Buycks said. “I was an All-American, scoring this, scoring that, and coming there I had to take a role as a point guard. I had to distribute the ball and get other guys involved. I had NBA guys on the team in Jimmy Butler, Lazar Hayward, Darius Johnson-Odom, Jae Crowder, we had a lot of good players I was surrounded by. To be the point guard there was a good thing for me.”
Buycks only averaged 23.6 minutes per game that first season at Marquette, but he went from being an occasional starter to starting 29 games for the Golden Eagles the next year. He responded well to the increased responsibility with much better shooting and assist numbers and even though he received a training camp invite from the Oklahoma City Thunder, the undrafted guard was destined for the D-League.
After a successful D-League season with Tulsa in 2011-2012, Buycks was picked up by Gravelines of the French Pro A League and everything came together. Buycks averaged a team-high 18 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals in 32 games while hitting 38.4 percent of his three-point attempts and won the league MVP honors.
“For my first full season overseas, I think I was in a great situation,” Buycks said. “I came there and right away had to make an impact. It was a great team, a great organization and I had a great relationship with the coach. I had to learn new things, but I came in and adjusted right away.”
The hard work paid off with an invite to the Thunder’s Summer League team in Orlando earlier this month and Buycks was ready to shine. A double-double 12 point and 13 assist game against the Pacers stood out in the traditional me-first environment of Summer League and after three strong games with the Thunder, the Toronto Raptors didn’t wait to make him an offer. Those games were all the confirmation Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri needed to confirm last season’s play in France wasn’t a fluke.
“I feel like I’ve been working real hard to try and get there,” Buycks said. “I just haven’t stopped yet. I’ve been working and working.”
Even with a brand new NBA minimum contract in hand from the Raptors, the hard working Buycks wasn’t about to rest on his laurels, Buycks joined the Raptors Summer League team in Las Vegas and it didn’t take long for him to shine again.
Against the Nuggets on Thursday, Buycks picked up his second double-double of the Summer League season with an 18 point, 10 assist and 6 rebound performance, but he wasn’t done there. Destined to show his scoring prowess when the Raptors rested Jonas Valanciunas on Saturday against the Suns, Buycks exploded for 28 points on 11-20 shooting to go with 4 assists and 4 boards. When asked to score, this point guard didn’t hold back.
Perhaps the most important observation from Summer League about Buycks was his ability to read a defense. A good shooter with the skill and strength to drive to the rim, Buycks was able to take advantage of what was available whether it was by mistake or design. These games were only against relatively weak Summer League competition, but as an incoming NBA rookie, they were very impressive.
Ujiri has been saying he likes to develop young players on the back end of his roster and even though Buycks will be the third string point guard behind D.J. Augustin and Kyle Lowry, the drive and effort he put in to get here suggests he isn’t going to be satisfied staying in that position.
Summer League might just be Summer League and the real tests will come after training camp opens, but this time of year is all about hope and expectations for the future. In Buycks, Ujiri just scored a little more hope for the future of the Raptors.
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report. You can follow him on twitter @stevesraptors