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NBA G League Mississauga Raptors 905 Lorenzo Brown

Raptors Sign Guard Lorenzo Brown To A Two-Way Contract

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have signed 26-year-old guard Lorenzo Brown to a two-way contract.

Brown, 6-foot-5, 189 pounds, has averaged 3.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 63 career NBA games with Philadelphia (2013-14), Minnesota (2014-15) and Phoenix (2015-16). He has also appeared in 74 career D-League games over four seasons with the Delaware 87ers (2013-14), Springfield Armor (2013-14) and Grand Rapids Drive averaging 18.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three-point range.

A native of Roswell Georgia, Brown was selected 52nd overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by Minnesota after playing three seasons at North Carolina State. He averaged 11.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in college.

Brown split last season between the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and the Drive.

He averaged 24.0 points, while shooting .301 (37-for-123) from three-point range during 20 games with Zhejiang. Brown finished the season averaging 23.6 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting .353 (18-for-51) from three-point territory in 11 appearances for Grand Rapids.

Two-way contracts do not count against the 15-man NBA roster. Teams are restricted to two players on two-way contracts. The Raptors other two-way contract player is Malcolm Miller.

As an older player with international experience, Brown fits with the concept of someone the Raptors might call up from the G League to the NBA as an injury replacement during the regular 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 D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Pascal Siakam

A Raptors 905 Championship Was Never In The Plans Until Now

By Frank McLean

Thursday night the Raptors 905 have a chance to win the NBDL championship in just their second year of operation when they host the Rio Grande Vipers in the third and deciding game of this best of three series.

Winning championships are rare. Not just in professional sports but you can throw in college, high school and even when you’re a kid playing house league.

I always think of the great Chicago Cubs hall of fame infielder Ernie Banks when it comes to winning championships. He played for the Cubs between the years of 1953 to 1971 and he never won a championship. In fact he never ever played one post season game.

Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse played 18-years in the NBA with eight different teams. He was able to get into a number of playoff games, but never won a ring.

In the NBDL it’s almost like you stumble across it by accident.

The NBDL stands for National Basketball Developmental League and all 23-teams emphasize the “DEVELOPMENT” first before ever thinking about a championship.

When I first talked to Stackhouse way back in November during the 905’s training camp Stackhouse said the goal is to “get these guys into the NBA. it’s not about winning championship’s, if I can get nine, 10, 11 of these guys into the NBA I have done my job”.

Now don’t think Stackhouse doesn’t want to win the title Thursday night, you bet he does.

When I brought up the Ernie Banks story he let me know that Jerry Stackhouse has never won a title either. “I played 18 years and never got all the way to the table”, he said. “Weren’t able to get the job done.”

Stackhouse really wants his guys to win more than he does for himself. I have watched him work all year with this team and he and his entire coaching staff for that matter have put their hearts and souls into making every player on this roster better players today then they were back in November.

Thus Stackhouse has let his group know how special an opportunity this is for them.

“It’s a great opportunity I tell these men take advantage of this opportunity. This group we have assembled this year will never be together again. I tell them take care of your brothers and leave it all out there, there is nothing guaranteed so let’s walk away whatever happens and leave it out on the floor.”

When Stackhouse said this group will never be together again he is not lying. Since all the players on the roster, except for players the NBA Raptors send down for work, are all under contract to the 905 chances are most of this group will either be in the NBA next year, or Europe or worst not being able to find a roster spot in some league will be working in the real world of a nine to five job.

Stackhouse did his job for sure this year. Two of his players were plucked off his roster early in these playoffs, Axel Toupane with the New Orleans Pelicans and Edy Tavares with the Cleveland Cavaliers . Tavares was named the NBDL Defensive Player Of The Year and instead of getting a shot at a NBDL title he gets a chance to go for the big one in the NBA.

Stackhouse has done a great job with players the Raptors sent down.

Fred VanVleet has worn a path going between Toronto and Mississauga this year. Monday night he was dressed for the big club in their game five win over Milwaukee and the dying moments of the game hit a three pointer and mad a big rebound. Tuesday night he was in Mississauga where he was a big factor in the 905 game two win scoring 16-points, grabbed seven boards and had nine assists.

Stackhouse’s face lit up when talked about VanVleet’s Monday night effort.

The plan was player development when the season started, but now they have a shot at a championship and Jerry Stackhouse and his group are going to take a shot it.

Winning a championship in the NBDL is probably the most difficult thing to pull off compared to let’s say baseball and hockey who’s minor league operations are set up by their sports to be true player development operations.

In hockey and baseball the entire rosters belong to their parent teams where all the players are under contract to that club. Stackhouse never knows for sure who will be on his roster from day-to-day, moment-to-moment.



   DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran 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 D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Pascal Siakam

Pascal Siakam Leads Raptors 905 To Game Two Victory In Finals

Toronto Raptors rookie forward Pascal Siakam recorded an impressive 32 point, 10 rebound double-double at the Hershey Centre on Tuesday night in a 95-85 Mississauga Raptors 905 win that tied the NBA D-League Finals at one game apiece with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

“(Siakam), he played big time,” 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “At the end of the game Pascal especially, he just showed that he can pretty much put us on his back and willed the game for us.”

The game quickly became a battle between Siakam and the Houston Rockets rookie from Gonzaga 6’10 forward Kyle Wiltjer who led the Vipers in defeat posting his own double-double of 25 points and 12 boards.

A closely contested first quarter set the tone for the evening, Raptors 905 holding a slight 23-22 advantage after the opening 12 minutes.

Siakam established himself early, scoring 9 points while adding 2 rebounds and 3 steals in the first. Chris Johnson and Darius Morris both posted 7 points for the Vipers.

Assignee Rockets rookie point guard Isaiah Taylor was injured just 3:13 into the first quarter and did not return.

Raptors 905 created some separation in the second frame, outscoring the Vipers 31-22 in the quarter. Siakam once again paced the 905 with 11 points for a 20 point, 6 rebound first half, while Brady Heslip contributed eight points in the period. Wiltjer increased his first half totals to 13 points and 6 boards by scoring 8 points in the quarter.

Raptors 905 led 54-44 at the half.

Wiltjer almost single-handedly kept the Vipers in the game, scoring 10 points for Rio Grande in the third quarter and narrowing the 905 lead to six heading into the fourth.

The Vipers continued to battle back and tied the game 81-81 at the 4:28 mark of the fourth quarter, but the Raptors 905 responded with a 7-0 run to regain control of the contest and close the game strong.

Toronto Raptors assignee Bruno Caboclo, who was almost invisible on offense for most of the contest, grabbed a man’s rebound under the hoop and then spun around for the impressive slam on the other side of the basket to push the lead to 86-81 with 3:30 left and he helped maintain the advantage with less than two minutes to go with an unexpected drive to the hoop and smooth floater.

Caboclo finished with 6 points, 5 rebounds, a steal and 4 blocked shots. Just the way coach Stackhouse drew it up.

“(Caboclo) has to make his mark for us on the defensive end,” Stackhouse said pregame. “That’s where I think he has a chance to be special.”

Raptors assignee Fred VanVleet had a big impact throughout this game defensively and running the offense, scoring 16 points on 7-18 shooting, grabbing 7 rebounds and dishing 9 dimes.

“All of our guys played well,” Stackhouse said. “Bruno (Caboclo) gave us some big buckets down at the end, big rebounds, big dunks.

“Everybody made timely plays. Fred (VanVleet) made some timely plays. Brady (Heslip – 11 points) made some timely shots for us. EJ (Singler – 15 points) made a big shot for us.”

Vipers guard Darius Morris had a big night with 19 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists. A 2011 second round pick of the Lakers, Morris has played in the NBA for the 76ers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Nets. Forward Chris Walker shot 6-6 from the field for 13 points in 12.5 minutes of action. Rockets rookie center Chinanu Onuako had 3 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and 2 blocks.

Coach Stackhouse may face one of classic challenges of coaching NBA D-League games in his next contest. The Toronto Raptors will be playing Game Six of their opening round playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks at the same time as his 905 will be facing off against the Vipers.

If Raptors head coach Dwane Casey wants to dress the 13 players permitted in the NBA, Stackhouse will be missing one of his assignees (Caboclo, Siakam or VanVleet) from the big club in his big game.

“I believe in our group,” 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse said prior to the game. “I know they are competitors and they are going to respond. When we went on the road (in Game One), (the Vipers) took care of business, they did what they are supposed to do to give themselves a chance. Now what we worked hard all season, we have home court advantage. We have two games at home (in a best of three series) to ultimately get to the glory these guys deserve.”

The D-League Championship will be decided Thursday evening back at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga at 7pm.



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 Mad Ants Tyler Hansbrough

Mad Ants Tyler Hansbrough Should Be On NBA Teams Radar

By Frank McLean

The beautiful thing about the NBA Development League “NBDL” is that when you go to a game you never know who you are going to see. There are numerous players who are or who should be on many NBA teams radar.

Maybe it’s a first round pick from the NBA draft playing in the D-League to get the unlimited minutes not available with his NBA team so he can develop and make a contribution to the parent team. Or someone who excelled in the NCAA, but may not be good enough for the NBA like one-time NCAA player of the year Jimmer Ferdette.

One current under-employed NBA veteran trying to use the NBDL to get back to the big show is former Toronto Raptors forward Tyler Hansbrough.

After spending four years with Indiana Pacers where he was their first round pick in the 2009-draft, Hansbrough signed a two year free agent deal with the Raptors and when that expired, he signed a one year deal with the Charlotte Hornets for the 2015-16 season where his career came off the rails.

In Charlotte he had the worst season of the NBA career. He played in only 44-games where he averaged 2.4-points and 2-rebounds in just 7.8 minutes.

On March first, after no NBA team taking a chance on him during the offseason and sitting out the whole season, he signed a deal with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBDL which happens to be owned by the team that drafted him the Indiana Pacers.

He has been a factor. In two games down the stretch run of the regular season he had games of 25 and 31 points. He also had a 23 rebound game and that’s where he was always excelled, a ferocious rebounder and a deadly shooter in the paint. He is averaging a double-double in Fort Wayne.

Currently the Mad Ants are in the NBDL Eastern Conference semi-final against the Main Red Claws with the winner of the best of three series taking on the Raptors 905 in the Eastern Conference Final.

On Monday night with his team facing elimination Hansbrough carried the Mad Ants in a comeback win to tie the series at one apiece and forcing a deciding game three on Wednesday night in Portland, Maine. Hansbrough put up 27-points and grabbed 15-boards in the game.

Pacers President Larry Bird has been in attendance for some games keeping an eye on who Pacers fans called “Psycho T.” A guy who’s defensive toughness, rebounding and scoring in the paint gave the Mad Ants a boost in their bid for the NBDL title.

Hansbrough, like any veteran who comes to the D-League, is there for one purpose and that’s to get back to the NBA. No one gave Hansbrough a 10-day contract which is a surprise when you see teams in the NBA who can use his skill set like maybe Cleveland? Just saying.

He was one of the all-time greats at the University of North Carolina, right up there with other alumni like Michael Jordan, Vince Carter and current Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse. His number 50 was retired after being named on the ACC’s first all-star in each of his four years there plus being the rookie of the year in 2006 and in 2008 was the ACC’s player of the year as well as all the other national player of the year honors.

Here’s hoping the Mad Ants win their series and the local Toronto fans get a chance to see Hansbrough comeback to the GTA to take on the Raptors 905.

He is the reason why the NBDL was formed in the first place, to give young NBA draft picks a chance to work on their craft and veterans a place to audition their talents.

Something says Hansbrough won’t be in the NBDL long.




   DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran 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 Jared Sullinger

Raptors Jared Sullinger Finds His Shooting Touch With The 905

It was a big night in the 905 for the Toronto Raptors Jared Sullinger. The big man found his shooting touch, going 6-11 from the field and 2-2 from three-point range to score 16 points to go with 10 boards and 5 assists.


Sullinger has yet to make much of an impact in Toronto since returning from foot surgery as his team is struggling to get out of a slump and head coach Dwane Casey hasn’t had the luxury of letting him play himself back into shape. So, for the second time since his return, Sullinger volunteered to go to Mississauga to shake off the rust and work on his conditioning.

Raptors 905 won the game 118-88 over the Canton Charge. Fred VanVleet contributing 8 points and 11 assists. Brady Heslip leading the 905 in scoring with 18 points by shooting 5-8 from three. Center Edy Tavares also had 16 points and 10 rebounds.



NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Edy Tavares

D-League All-Star Edy Tavares Deserves Another Shot At The NBA

Named to the Eastern Conference NBA D-League All-Star team, Edy Tavares is having a good year with the Raptors 905. The 7’3 center is averaging 10.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 23.7 minutes thru 30 games. Tavares deserves another shot at making an NBA roster.

The native of Cape Verde didn’t pick up a basketball until he was 17, but he was drafted in the second round by the Hawks in 2014 and split last season between Atlanta where he played in 11 games and D-League’s Austin Spurs, Canton Charge and Bakersfield Jam. It’s been a steep learning curve for the big mobile center.

Tavares shows a lot of what is expected from a big man in today’s game. He can protect the rim, run the floor and he’s got a jump shot. His range isn’t out to the three-point line yet, but he’s been hitting 50 percent of his midrange shots, so the potential is there.

Someone would be doing themselves a favor by giving this D-League All-Star a 10-day NBA contract.

Tavares joins 905 coach Jerry Stackhouse at the D-League All-Star Game and 905 guard John Jordan who will defend his title in the 2017 NBA D-League Slam Dunk contest.

The D-League All-Star Game will air live on NBA TV and tips off Saturday, February 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.


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.




Mississauga Raptors 905 at the ACC

Red Hot Raptors 905 Invade Downtown Toronto

By Frank McLean

Usually when you see a convoy of yellow school busses making their way into downtown Toronto there is some kind of protest going on at Queen’s Park or City Hall or Blue Jays fans storming the Rogers Center wanting them to re-sign Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista.

Instead on Tuesday morning it was an invasion of school children, some 15,011 of them, at the Air Canada Centre which became the largest crowd to watch an NBDL game as the Raptors 905 hosted the Grand Rapids Drive in an early 11am tip off .

Mississauga Raptors 905 fans

The Pistons farm team made the 905ers looked like they were sleepwalking in this one as they were thumped 114-87 ending a franchise-high seven game winning streak.

Even the high energy of an arena full of kids screaming, as most for sure were strung out on sugary drinks and pizza, could not help the home side with some extra energy of their own.

Coming into the game the 905ers had a 10-2 record with a NBDL leading .833 winning percentage, but before the game head coach Jerry Stackhouse was prophetic in his comments before the game that “yes we are winning games, but we have a lot of work to do.”

“Today was just one of those games,” Stackhouse said after the game.

“We were ok in the beginning of the game in the first quarter then they took off and made threes. I think they set a new NBA(DL) record for threes in a game today.”

Stackhouse was right about that one.

This past Friday night the Houston Rockets in their win over the New Orleans Pelicans set an NBA record for three-point shots made and attempted as they went 24-for-61 behind the arc.

Grand Rapids tied that NBA record by making 24 trey’s but they did it on far fewer attempts, 48.

The leading scorer for the 905ers was Fred VanVleet who gets action with the 905 when the Raptors aren’t playing.

However, Tuesday was a little bit of a different animal for the Raptors rookie as six hours after the 905 game ended VanVleet will be in a Raptors uniform on the bench supporting the big club for their game with the Brooklyn Nets.

“I’m ready to play anytime I’m called upon,” VanVleet said about the possibility of playing a doubleheader on the same day.

“I’m always mentally prepared and physically prepared to play. It’s something that I put a lot of pride in.”

But the story of the day was the kids.

The 905 already had a school day game this year in their home arena in Mississauga where they filled the Hershey Centre with close to five thousand fans.

Bringing a home game downtown for the second year in a row is a no brainer as they expose their brand of NBDL ball to a captive audience of school kids just happy as heck not to be in class doing math or english just three days before they take off for their Christmas break.

These late morning games are done in minor pro hockey and baseball and have been a great success at selling their product and making fans out of the game with the kids.

I just wonder. Why didn’t they have these games for school kids when I was in school 40 years ago?



DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran 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 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 Mississauga Raptors 905 Walter Edy Tavares

Raptors 905 May Have A Gem in 7’3 Edy Tavares

Edy Tavares missed the start of the Raptors 905 season, but longer he’s been there, the bigger the impact he’s had. In his last two games, Tavares has averaged 17 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2 blocks in 23.5 minutes while shooting 80 percent from the field. The 905 may just have a gem in the mobile 7’3 center.

“I am trying to be more aggressive on offense,” Tavares told Pro Bball Report. “My game comes on both sides on defense and offense. On offense I take my time and try to read the game.”

Walter Samuel Tavares Da Veiga a.k.a Edy Tavares of Cape Verde didn’t pick up a basketball until he was “discovered” at 17-years-old, but he picked the game up faster than expected and was playing in the Spanish ACB league when the Hawks drafted him in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft.

Tavares played in 11 games with Atlanta last season and was a late cut this year and the Hawks may live to regret not having a D-League affiliate he could join. Last season he was bounced around between three different D-League teams as a Hawks property and after the Hawks released him this year he landed with Toronto’s affiliate.

Tavares was getting noticed for his ability to rebound and block shots in Spain and he showed a lot more of that through 29 D-League games last year. Between the Austin Spurs, Canton Charge and Bakersfield Jam he averaged 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 3.3 blocks in 21.6 minutes and it wasn’t easy learning to play NBA rules with three different organizations.

“I was all over the place,” Tavares said. “I had to figure out the rules, the systems and everything.”

His arrival in Mississauga in November after the season had started was just as hectic. “I had to learn like a 100 different things, total different (from) basketball. I (will) try to learn quick and be comfortable.”

Tavares was hard not to notice in his first 905 game, blocking 3 shots and grabbing 7 boards in 15 minutes of action when he basically didn’t know any of the 905 schemes. He followed that up with a 4 block effort two games later.

However, he’s already shown that there is more to his game than just rim protection and dunks. He can run the floor and has a midrange jump shot that’s promising.

“I like to play right around the basket, but I can shoot the midrange shot,” Tavares said. “I am trying to work on different things on offense.”

Tavares was drafted on size and potential and the 24-year-old still shows plenty of both. He’ll be a player to watch in the D-League this 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 Fred VanVleet NBA D-League

Can Raptors Fred VanVleet Find His Groove With The 905?

The Toronto Raptors liked 22-year-old undrafted Wichita State senior point guard Fred VanVleet so much in Summer League that they gave him a training camp invite and made it obvious from Day One he was a likely choice to make the team. However, as the fourth point guard on the organization’s NBA roster, he was going to have to find his groove playing with the Development League Mississauga Raptors 905.

The primary purpose of the 905 is to develop players Raptors president Masai Ujiri believes have the potential to help his team win in the future and it proved its worth last season with Delon Wright, Norman Powell, Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira last season. This year VanVleet, Caboclo and Jakob Poeltl have made the trip to Mississauga in order to get playing time that’s simply not available to them in Toronto at the moment.

VanVleet debuted with 20 points on 53.8 percent shooting to go with 6 rebounds and 7 assists, but since then he’s had to work hard to make an impact. However, 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse is going to let him work thru every manner of mistake and keep him on the court quite simply because that’s why the team exists.

“Fred’s smart, he knows that if his shot is not going down he’s going to find other ways to help the team, to help his teammates get easy opportunities,” Stackhouse said. “They are going to guard him closely.”

“The thing about my game is a lot of it’s predicated on getting to the line and getting some calls and the thing about getting calls is sometimes you don’t,” VanVleet said. “It can look pretty ugly there at times when I’m going in there failing at the rim, but I’ve just got to keep aggressive.”

Now four games in, VanVleet is averaging 17.3 points on 41 percent shooting, 2.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.8 steals and his 905 team is 3-1. He has been getting to the line 4.8 times per game.

For comparison, last year’s Raptors rookie Delon Wright in 15 905 games averaged 17.7 points on 53.6 percent shooting, 5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.6 steals, but Wright started out red hot in November shooting 73.9 percent from the field in what should be considered the easiest part of the D-League schedule.

“My ultimate goal is to lead the team first and get wins and run the show,” VanVleet explained. “Individual stats and all that comes second. Obviously I know I can play a lot better and keeping working and getting better and trying to deliver. A couple of extra assists might make the stats look pretty.”

It was a long time between preseason games and meaningful minutes for VanVleet with the Raptors in Toronto and he needs the playing time available to him with the 905 if he is going to improve.

“It’s good,” VanVleet said about the 905. “I’ve been fairly rusty and just trying to get back into rhythm. It’s just different playing with a different team and some of the schemes we are doing are different. Different cultures, different teammates, different opposition, so I’m just trying to get acclimated.”

VanVleet has looked very good at times, controlling the pace and the offense and playing like a young NBA player among prospects. He’s also looked, as he noted “ugly” at times as well, turning the ball over 2.8 times per game and struggling to finish or get calls at the rim. His long jumpers aren’t falling with any consistency yet either.

However, the purpose of the 905 is to allow players like VanVleet to get comfortable playing professionally and get a chance to play thru mistakes and find their groove. The Raptors believe VanVleet has the potential to become an NBA rotation player and it’s Stackhouse’s job to get him ready so he can prove it when his chance comes.




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 Long Island Nets Egidijus Mockevicius of Lithuania

Lithuania Produces Another Center To Watch Egidijus Mockevicius

For a very small Country Lithuania produces more than it’s share of professional basketball talent and yet another center to watch is the undrafted senior from Evansville Egidijus Mockevicius now affiliated with the Brooklyn Nets.

The 6’10 Mockevicious led the NCAA in rebounding at 14 boards per game last season and according to Josh Riddell of Draft Express,

Egidijus Mockevicius had his most productive statistical year as a senior by averaging 19.5 points and 17.6 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted. The Evansville center has been one of the best Missouri Valley Conference players over the past few seasons, being named to the All-Conference 1st Team for the past two seasons and the All-Conference Defensive Team for the past three.

Mockevicius ranks among the most dominant defensive rebounders in college basketball history, easily finishing #1 in the nation in that category. He’s committed to tracking down every loose ball, running straight to the front of the rim after every shot and tracking down balls outside his area.

Mockevicius played in Mississauga recently with the Long Island Nets and he made an impression despite his team getting blown out 117-83 by the Raptors 905.

As advertised the big Lithuanian isn’t exceptionally athletic or fast, but he ran the floor well and somehow seemed to get to where he needed to be when he needed to get there. Not surprisingly he led his team with 8 boards in just 23 minutes of action to go with 12 points on 6-10 shooting. He stood out as a contributor with his hustle.

Mockevicius is what’s called an Affiliate player in the ever evolving NBA Development League. The Brooklyn Nets approached his agent after the draft and brought him in for a workout in May. Then a stint in Summer League and an invite to training camp with some burn in a preseason game before getting him to agree to play with the Long Island Nets. A series of moves which may turn into the two-way contracts envisioned in the revised NBA CBA expected to kick in next season.

“I am Affiliated right now with (the Brooklyn Nets), but hopefully one day I’ll get called up,” Mockevicius told Pro Bball Report. “That’s what I an trying to work on.

“I’ve been at Summer League with them, so I’ve been with them for quite some time now.”

Through four games with the Long Island Nets, Mockevicius has averaged 13.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.5 blocks in 23.9 minutes, showing he can produce in a fast paced league that isn’t often kind to more traditional centers. However, the big man is trying to avoid the traditional center label. He wants to show he’s a lot more versatile than that.

“It’s a Development League, so you are just trying to develop overall,” Mockevicius said. “You don’t want to (focus) on just one thing. You want to do a bunch of things because if you only do one thing right it might not give you a shot at the highest level, so it’s way more important to be doing a lot of stuff.

“It would not only be rebounding. It’s scoring, being comfortable with the ball making good decisions. That’s how basketball is played, you can’t do only one thing. Especially with how the (NBA) is developing, every big I know has to do a lot of things. Everyone is a good rebounder, everyone is a good passer. The NBA is based on shooting right now, there is a lot of things to improve on to get a shot (a chance).

“In the NBA you can play the four/five, it’s not any different. That’s the thing I am trying to develop right now. Be more like a diverse player. Be able to roll, be able to expand the floor, be able to shoot. You can’t really be just one thing.”

A very good college player, Mockevicius is getting a chance to to develop his game and expand his skill set with the Long Island Nets. It’ll be tougher place to play than in college and not just because the players around him are better, stronger and faster. The D-League plays more small ball and at a faster pace than in the NBA, so the match-ups will push him to figure out how to be effective enough stay on the court in a challenging environment.

If this traditional center can cut it in the D-League, NBA teams will have yet another Lithuanian to keep an eye on.



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 commissioner Adam Silver

Expanded Rosters Are Coming To The NBA Soon

It looks like the NBA is finally making progress with its’ union on expanding rosters by creating two-way contracts between the NBA and NBA D-League and these changes could come sooner rather than later according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical

Among expected changes in the new CBA, league sources told The Vertical: A significantly higher rookie contract scale and two-way contracts between the NBA and NBA Development League that will add playing jobs for the union.

It’s about time too. MLB and the NHL have long histories of committing to young players and even journeyman via two-way contracts that allow professional athletes in these sports to develop playing in a minor league system. It permits those recently drafted and sometimes undrafted prospects to play big minutes without having to learn on the job at the expense of the major league franchise. It also gives teams somewhere to stash a potential injury reserve veteran without taking up a roster spot, although it’s not clear if the NBA has this concept in mind just yet.

The cure for all labor/management issues is a boatload of money and the NBA is literally swimming in cash these days, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the NBA and its’ union are having very favorable talks regarding changes to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Both sides would have to be flat out stupid to slow down this gravy train.

The NBA and NBPA each have until Dec. 15 to exercise an opt-out clause of the current 10-year deal that was reached in 2011, but sources on both sides believe that a new deal will be in place prior to that date.

Some of those “minor” issues likely entail a slightly bigger share of the much larger revenue pie for the union now that any NBA team not making money has run out of excuses and higher dollar amounts on exceptions (MLE, BAE) that more closely fit the spirit of these tools when they were originally negotiated. A Mid Level Exception in the $8-10 million range would make a lot more sense in the new Salary Cap reality.

This is the moment in time to ask players to share the expanding revenue pie with the larger rosters two-way contracts will create and help drive the expansion of the NBA Development League.

Every player in the NBA saw just how much salaries are set to blow up under the current CBA. It shouldn’t be too hard to get agreement on sharing the wealth by expanding the size of the union’s membership. Basically, book it, the NBA is about to have a minor league system that fans can watch and know the best players on their affiliated team belong to their franchise. A real NBA Development League, it’s about time.


Note: A couple of other changes that we would like to see are a return to the sign-and-trade and extend-and-trade rules of the prior CBA so teams could regain the possibility of getting something in return when one of their big name free agents signs/ intends to sign with another team. For example: when free agent Chris Bosh left the Toronto Raptors in the lurch to join Miami, the Raptors got a trade exception and two first round draft picks back. But, when Kevin Durant deserted OKC this summer, the Thunder got a big fat nothing and had no chance of getting anything from the Warriors. It just seems likely KD would have ensured the Warriors would have been pressed into sending the Thunder a draft pick or something if it made sense under the CBA.



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.