Toronto is bringing three players into training camp for a look to see if they can fill a role as the 15th player on the Raptors roster: center Greg Stiemsma, forward Jordan Hamilton and guard Will Cherry. Each player brings something different to the table and their real competition for a spot probably will not come from each other, but rather how well Head Coach Dwane Casey believes they can fill a role and if other players on the roster that are already under contract have eliminated the need to fill that role.
Greg Stiemsma, 28-years-old, 3 NBA seasons, 16 min., 3.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.2 blocks
“The Steamer” was a Monty Williams favorite in New Orleans and started 20 games for the Pelicans last season, but he was cut in April and the paint clogging defensive center signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Raptors.
Stiemsma was an undrafted low minutes senior from Wisconsin in 2008 that played anywhere he could until the Celtics picked him up as a free agent in 2011 and he recorded 6 blocks in his NBA debut, raising hopes Boston had found something special off the scrap heap. However, he was let go at the end of the season and has played for three different NBA teams in three years.
A big center that lives in the paint and can block shots, Stiemsma is a potential replacement for Aaron Gray who was traded to the Kings last December. For limited minutes against the handful of big powerful centers left in the NBA, the Steamer could prove useful. The biggest challenger he will face is the rookie Lucas Nogueira. If the Brazilian looks ready to play or Casey just thinks he needs minutes, there isn’t much call to keep Stiemsma around.
Jordan Hamilton, 23-years-old, 3 NBA seasons, 13.3 min., 5.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 35.8% 3FG
Hamilton was a three-point threat with Texas for two college seasons and was drafted 26th overall by Dallas in 2011. Then Nuggets General Manager Masai Ujiri picked him up in a convoluted three-team draft day deal.
Jordan played 2.5 seasons with Denver and was traded to Houston last February. The Rockets opted to let him go in free agency.
Hamilton has good size on the wing, measuring out at 6’ 8.5” tall in shoes, 228 lbs, with a 6’ 9.5” wingspan and a 32” maximum vertical jump at the 2011 NBA Draft Combine. In his fight for a spot on the Raptors, he brings the shooting James Johnson is missing, but doesn’t have the same defensive impact. If Landry Fields could find his old shooting form, Hamilton wouldn’t even have a chance. However, like Stiemsma, Hamilton’s biggest threat could come from a rookie. If the Brazilian forward Bruno Caboclo looks ready to play or Casey just thinks he needs minutes, there isn’t much call to keep Hamilton around either.
Will Cherry, 23-years-old, NBA D-league, 31.3 min., 11.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5 assists, 1.5 steals
Cherry sprained his wrist prior to the start of his senior college year, broke his foot on his return and a promising breakout junior season became a disappointing senior campaign. Cherry went undrafted and headed to the NBA D-League.
An impact player at both ends of the court with Montana, if Cherry can find his shooting touch again, he could fill an important role as a third string guard in Toronto. Somewhat paralleling Dwight Buycks road to the Raptors last year, a good regular season followed by a solid NBA Summer League has made him a prospect worth taking a look at.
Toronto could use another guard, but the situation isn’t so desperate that they would take Cherry on if he doesn’t look ready to contribute. The good news for Cherry is the Raptors do not have a comeback player or a rookie on a guaranteed contract who could make the need for his services redundant.
The competition between Stiemsma, Hamilton and Cherry for that final spot on the Raptors roster should prove interesting during preseason, however, the bad news for each of these players is they are probably not in control of their own destiny. How other players look could have an even bigger impact than their own performances.