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NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Edy Tavares

Raptors 905 Use Crushing Defense To Advance To East Finals

Raptors 905 advanced to the East Finals of the 2017 NBA D-League Playoffs after beating the Canton Charge with crushing defense, 108-90 Saturday night at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.

“Defense, great defense,” Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “The guys were locked in. I thought our game plan was sound. After Game One we had film to watch and we watched every possession on film. The guys hate that, but it gets us better prepared. I thought they came out with a ton of energy and great focus.”

The 905 dominated from tip, holding the Charge to 4-24 shooting from the field in the first quarter on the back of 5 blocks and numerous changed shots by center Edy Tavares. Tavares finished the game with 7 points, a game-high 9 rebounds and 8 blocks and it looked like the official scorer missed at least one block in the fourth quarter.

“(Tavares) has unbelievable talent,” Stackhouse said. “The way he protects the rim for us. For the most part he just went up there and used his length. He has unbelievable timing.”

Four of five 905 starters scored in double-digits with sharp-shooting guard Brady Heslip pacing the team with 21 points off the bench.

“I am pretty sure we are the best defensive team in the league all year,” Heslip said. “It’s been great for me, for my development. I’ve gotten a lot better as a point guard and as a defender. I play a lot of minutes and we’re the best defensive team in the league and that’s got to say something. I love it, playing for (coach Stackhouse). It’s been amazing so far.”

E.J. Singler (17 points) led the 905 in the opening quarter as they took a 38-13 lead. The lead was 65-35 at the half and hit a 38 point advantage in the third before the 905 put things in cruise control the rest of the way.

With the win, the 905 has won their first D-League playoff series and earned a berth in the Conference Finals where they will face either Maine or Fort Wayne.

NBA D-League East Finals

Just prior to the game the 905 found out they would be without the services of Axel Toupane who led the team in the Game One victory with a franchise record 41 points. Toupane has been signed by the New Orleans Pelicans for the remainder of the NBA season.

Two Toronto Raptors players were assigned to the 905 for this playoff game. Bruno Caboclo had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Pascal Siakam contributed 13 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist.

Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Kay Felder led Canton for the second-straight contest, posting 22 points in the loss.

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 Brady Heslip

Brady Heslip Is Just The Dirty Work Away From The NBA

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.



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 Toronto Raptors 905 Brady Heslip

Should The Raptors Have Kept Canadian Guard Brady Heslip?

A full two months into the NBA season and teams are starting to get a pretty good idea about the decisions they made during the off season and training camp. Right about now the Raptors might be wondering if they should have kept Canadian guard Brady Heslip in Toronto instead of signing him to a D-League contract with the Mississauga Raptors 905?

The biggest knock on this outstanding Canadian three-point shooter has been he’s a shooting guard in a point guard’s body, so new Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse went about seeing if that problem could be remedied.

“We are going to put the ball in Brady’s hands,” Stackhouse said at the start of the season.

And they have. Heslip has been in effect the starting point guard for the 905 when the guy the Raptors signed, Fred VanVleet, wasn’t around to get in his way.

As of the end of December, both VanVleet and Heslip have nine starts with the 905 and have averaged just over 30 minutes in those starts.

VanVleet: 15.7 points, 40.7 %FG, 32.1 %3FG on 3.1 3FGA, 3.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.4 steals.

Heslip: 18.2 points, 42.3 %FG, 42.1 %3FG on 10.6 3FGA, 2.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.6 steals.

VanVleet is a slasher trying to draw fouls and even at the D-League level, he doesn’t always get (earn?) a consistent whistle, but he has been getting to the free throw line 4.2 times per game and that’s something Heslip just isn’t going to do. VanVleet’s shooting needs work too, but the team knew that. In all, VanVleet’s time in the D-League has been well spent.

Heslip has played in the D-League before and was quite literally devastating from the three-point line the last time. However, in three years at Baylor and one with the Reno Bighorns, he never averaged over 1 assist per game. What Heslip has accomplished under coach Stackhouse averaging 4.4 assists as a starting guard is eye-opening.

Heslip has shown he can both run an offense and play off the ball, at least at this level. If he can translate that to a bench role in the NBA, there are a lot of teams that could use the instant offense.



The opportunities for Toronto to maintain control of prospects like Heslip won’t come into effect until next season. With 10-day NBA contracts about to become a reality, Heslip is a player the Raptors could lose for nothing beyond his thanks for letting him show off other aspects of his game.

It’s easy to see why the Raptors choose to sign VanVleet over Heslip. VanVleet is three years younger and gives off a vibe much like a younger version of Kyle Lowry, but if they end up needing a player that could help them this season, Heslip was the one with the NBA ready jump shot who just needed a little coaching to bring out the playmaker in him.



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 Brady Heslip

Raptors 905 Brady Heslip Shows He Can Score And Lead From The Point

Canadian guard Brady Heslip was just looking for another shot at the NBA after spending last season in Italy when he accepted an invite to the Toronto Raptors training camp, but as an undersized scoring guard, the Raptors wanted him to learn to run the point and the local Burlington native was happy to be playing for the Mississauga Raptors 905 located a half hour from where he lives.

Heslip has been getting a chance to play a significant role with the 905 and he’s putting up the kinds of stats that haven’t previously been a part of his career in college, overseas or in the D-League. He’s still hitting the three-ball, but the guard who never averaged over 2 assists per game and usually averaged under 1 has been dishing 3.9 dimes with the 905 thru the first 9 games and still draining over 3 threes per contest.

The Heslip highlights from the 905’s recent win over the Swarm are as notable for the 7 dimes as the 7 three-pointers.

When the 26-year-old played in the NBA D-League before, he dominated as a three-point shooter, but this year was going to be different. Heslip was going to backup Raptors rookie point guard Fred VanVleet when was he was sent down and be the 905’s number one point guard the rest of the time. The big questions being, can he run the team as well as score and can he defend his position?

“We are going to put the ball in Brady’s hands,” 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse said at the start of the season. “That’s one of the reasons he’s there.”

Heslip gives Stackhouse an experienced guard who should be able to learn to run the team, but also give him (as a coach), a guard who can play off the ball in the two point guard lineup that has become so popular in the NBA. He just needs to give Heslip a chance to gain the needed experience at the point.

“I think (Brady) hasn’t had enough reps of trying to focus on (ball handling),” Stackhouse said. “A lot of his focus has been playing to his strength and his strength is absolutely shooting the basketball, although we absolutely want to showcase other sides of his game.

“With the things we do and the kind of system we have in place there isn’t a whole lot where he’ll have to ad-lib. He’ll know where his outlets are and I think that will help showcase his ability to be a playmaker. Also doing other little things like dirty work, stepping in and taking charges, things that point guards do. That’s the next step for him, making sure he’s focused in defensively, being a leader.”

The 905 are currently on a four game winning streak and Heslip has been averaging 33 minutes, 16.3 points on 4.3 of 9.5 three-point shots attempted and perhaps more importantly, 5.8 assists. He’s been running the team and the team is running pretty well.

The NBA has become a league where your point guard had better be able to reliably hit a three-point jump shot as well as get his team into their offense. Heslip has always had the first half of that equation down. If he keeps running the point this well in the D-League, he’ll get another shot at 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 D-League Toronto Raptors 905 Brady Heslip

Can Local Prospect Brady Heslip Make The Toronto Raptors?

There are long odds against any of the six training camp invitees making the Toronto Raptors this season, President Masai Ujiri could just as easily leave the 15th roster spot open for future flexibility, however, local prospect Brady Heslip could fill a role if head coach Dwane Casey makes the case for adding another guard that can nail the three-ball from anywhere on the court.

“We know he can shoot the basketball,” Casey said at training camp. “He is one of our best shooters that we have right now. It is almost like a layup for him for a three-point shot. He’s done it for a while. He’s a proven shooter.”

Heslip fits the mold of what the Raptors seem to want in a prospect at this camp. Two years past college with experience in Europe, the NBA Development League and internationally with Team Canada, the 26-year-old guard isn’t your typical NBA rookie. When Casey describes him as a proven shooter, he isn’t overstating anything.

After going undrafted in 2014 and being cut from the training camp roster of the Timberwolves, Heslip played 20 games with the D-League’s Reno Bighorns where he averaged 24.5 points per game and shot 44.3 percent from deep. He scored in bunches, four games with nine or more three-pointers dropping 35, 38, 40 and 45 points.

He played in seven Adriatic league games that season and last summer Heslip landed a sweet contract with Cantu of the Italian league where he averaged 12.7 points and shot 45.5 percent on 7 three-point attempts per game.

“I lived in the north in a beautiful place right near Milan and Lake Como, so you can’t ask for a much better location, great people and the fans were amazing,” Heslip told Pro Bball Report. “I had a great experience there.”

Add these experiences to his Team Canada double-digit scoring average going back to 2013 and it’s easy to see why Ujiri made the effort to give Heslip a shot at making the Raptors this season.

“When I was with the Timberwolves (in 2014), I did the whole NBA training camp thing, so now it’s not new to me,” Heslip said. “It’s just a better situation because the Raptors are a team that I grew up loving and I have the experience playing in Europe (now).”

The issue with the 6’2 Heslip has always been he’s shooting guard in a point guard body and what Casey wants to see in preseason is how much his playmaking and defensive skills have progressed. This isn’t the D-League and Heslip will have to defend his position and make the right play when he’s being closely guarded.

“This summer I really dedicated myself in the weight room and did a lot more speed training and stuff with my strength coach,” Heslip explained. “I worked really hard at getting faster and stronger so that I can be more physical. I am working really hard every day on defense just trying to get better.”

If the 12 game FIBA Europe Cup Heslip played in with Team Canada this summer is representative of his improving game, there might be something there. He averaged 16.9 points and 1.8 assists, 47 percent and 50 percent higher than his career averages with Team Canada respectively.

However, the big draw for Heslip (and likely the Raptors as well) is he’s home. The Raptors would like to add another Canadian to their roster if he’s ready to contribute and equally Heslip would be a big draw and huge crowd-pleaser with the Mississauga Raptors 905.

“My first goal is to make this team and I’ll take things from there, but if I go back (to the D-League) I just want to prove that the things that I’ve added to my game,” Heslip said. “I’m older now, I have more experience. I’ve played in a few different places and I just think that I’ll just play my game wherever I go and my main goal this year is getting back in the NBA.”

If he has to spend more time in the D-League, this is where it should be.

“I am just happy to be home,” Heslip said. “Last week we finished a workout and I just drove home and I haven’t been able to do that in a long time. That’s a huge benefit to being able to do that with this organization. Being home is a great feeling.”

Whether it’s in Toronto or Mississauga, Raptors fans will want to check out the local shooting sensation Brady Heslip. There just might be a 50-point game in there somewhere.




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.