Reporting on the Toronto Raptors Prospects
The Raptors stayed mostly the same heading into the new season but parted ways with several key players including backup point guard Cory Joseph and forwards Patrick Patterson and DeMarre Carroll. The three averaged around 25 minutes a game each meaning there will be plenty of minutes to replace and that means more playing time for the Raptors' prospects.
A prospect is otherwise known as a player who isn't established as being part of the team yet. This could mean new players like this year's first-round pick OG Anunoby who has yet to play a game for Toronto or sophomore or third-year players who have played minimally with the team.
Last year's picks, Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam will be counted on heavily to anchor the Raptor frontcourt while Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet will be supporting Kyle Lowry as backup guards. Here's a more thorough look at each Raptor prospect and how they could fare this coming season.
The Raptors' 2015 first-round pick had his development slowed by injuries but this could be the year he sticks with the team. Wright will be battling fellow Raptors 905 graduate VanVleet in backing up Kyle Lowry. In 27 games last season, Wright averaged 5.6 points, 2.1 assists and 1 steal in 16.5 minutes of action.
A year wiser, Wright may just edge out VanVleet for the backup point guard spot thanks to his height, athleticism, and defensive potential. He also has a shot at becoming a defensive specialist for the Raptors and could play at shooting guard should the Raptors choose to go small.
It's tough to refrain from thinking of Poeltl as Jonas Valanciunas 2.0 but if you add some more sandpaper and subtract some offensive polish then that's what Poeltl is.
The Austrian is working towards being the one true backup to the oft-injured Valanciunas and his grit and work ethic is already winning fans over.
Along with draftmate Siakam, Poeltl could lead a big man resurgence in the 6ix. His ceiling is lower than Siakam's but his floor is higher. At worst, Poeltl is a grit-and-grind big man with limited offense and at best he's double-double machine who will get his hands dirty so long as the team wins.
In Siakam, the Raptors have found their new Energizer bunny. The Cameroonian showed flashes last season when he filled in for an injured Jared Sullinger.
While it was clear he wasn't fully developed, he made up for his lack of polish with passion and ferocity. This type of effort quickly made him a fan favourite.
Siakam is what the likes of Amir Johnson and Jerome Williams were to the Raptors, a hustle player. But the D-League Finals MVP is also developing his three-point shooting and post game. Expect Siakam to be even more improved as he plays a more significant role for the team.
It's been three years since Masai Ujiri shocked the NBA world by taking little-known Caboclo as the Raptors' first-round choice. The Brazilian oozed potential with his size and physical gifts but it was clear he was as raw as can be. Three seasons in the D-League and a hiccup with the Raptors and Caboclo is slowly progressing.
Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse commended Caboclo for developing mentally as he sealed the 905's championship with a 31-point 11-rebound performance. Caboclo may need another season to finally put it together but could see more time with the Raptors this coming year.
VanVleet is a sharp contrast to Wright who he's competing against for minutes. While Wright is lengthy and athletic, VanVleet has the same stocky build Lowry has - without the athleticism. He's also undersized just barely standing 6'. What he has is poise, experience, and smart playmaking.
The Wichita State alum led Raptors 905 to the 2017 D-League Championship and got a brief tour with the Raptors backing up Joseph during Lowry's injury all the way to the playoffs. VanVleet's playing style won't make highlight reels but the Raptors can rest easy when he has the ball in his hands.
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