As we all know, the Toronto Raptors season was filled with incredible high’s and absolutely gut-wrenching lows. After achieving a franchise record 59 wins, the #1 seed Raps bowed out of the championship race after a second-round sweep to who other than the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.
Despite the sudden playoff heartbreak, we’re going to look back at the players that helped lead us through this tumultuous season.
Starting off we’ll be looking at the reserves for the Toronto Raptors. When we talk about reserves we are looking at players that did not particularly make an impact during the regular season, but were on the roster due to their potential.
Traded to the Sacramento Kings mid-season
(Raptors 905) 30.2 MIN, 14.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.3 BPG, .335 3P%, .466 2P%, .831 FT%
The honeymoon was over, well over. Some would say that it was overstayed. Bruno came into Toronto a prospect that turned into an NBA punchline. While the criticism against him was harsh, it would certainly not have been so painful were he not a 20th overall pick making a steady 1.5m per year. In the end he was shipped off to Sacremento in exchange for Malachi Richardson, providing the team approximately 2.45m as a trade exception which they subsequently did not use.
Through 17-18 Bruno showed more than before. Formerly a tearful and emotional young player in his first foray into American professional sports, in his third year Bruno mutually agreed with the team to spend time with the 905. That progress in maturity is worth more than most would consider.
With a tumultuous beginning to the 905 season, Bruno was asked to fill many roles. With the sudden losses of Kyle Wiltjer and Edy Tavares to begin the season, Raptors 905 started Caboclo at C for a number of matches in the early season. Always active if not totally aware on the defensive end, Caboclo maintained solid “effort” stats while regressing in his offensive percentages.
- After three years it was fair to let Bruno go. His first season with Fort Wayne was a waste and it seemed he’d got all he could from the 905. We all hope the best for Bruno, maybe he’ll pull a PJ Tucker and come back in the future a different, productive guy.
Signed two ten-day contracts with the Toronto Raptors
Signed a guaranteed contract with the Sacramento Kings for the remainder of the season
(TOT between 905/WES) 34.0 MIN, 15.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .434 3P%, .451 2P%, .722 FT%
It’s difficult to rate a player like Nigel Hayes. He was given a twenty-day outside chance to crack a guaranteed spot on the roster for the playoffs. In the end it didn’t work out, but his work with the 905 and the Westchester Knicks certainly gave the Raps something to think about.
Hayes came out of college an undersized Power Forward who’s incredible 7’3 wingspan more than made up for his 6’7 listed height. The knock on him was that in his time at college his three-point shot development was a mixed bag and his athleticism was sub-par. Two things that’ll make it difficult to get drafted as a senior. Regardless, Hayes came out this G-League season an absolute sniper hitting 44% of his three-point shots and earning several call-ups and a contract with the Kings.
Hayes may very well become an NBA player if he can keep up his shooting. He’s got a Draymond Green-esque body, short but strong with a low centre of gravity. If he can develop his game on the defensive end as much as he has offensively it’s only up from here.
- It’s difficult to imagine he was anything more than a motivator for either of the Raptors’ two-way players to step up their game and compete for a spot on the playoff roster. Despite that, his skills in the G-League and charming personality really showed through during his short stint with the Raptors.
Traded from the Sacremento Kings to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Bruno Caboclo
(TOT between 905/REN) 23.6 MIN, 8.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .306 3P%, .348 2P%, .857 FT%
It’s hard to sugar coat the fact that the Kings essentially gave up on Richardson to take a flier on Bruno and give the Raps a little bit more financial wiggle room to go after a free-agent before the playoff eligibility deadline. Despite that, both players needed a fresh start and Malachi came with more defined if not spectacular tools.
Malachi came out of Syracuse with a scorers reputation and a streaky outlook. That all came to life when he switched over to the 905 mid-season. In 18 games between Reno and the 905, Malachi scored in the double-digits only 9 times. Richardson also all but disappeared in the home stretch of the G-League playoffs as his defence wasn’t stout enough to keep opposing wings at bay, forcing Stackhouse to rely on USports Alum Aaron Best while Richardson’s ability to score was more needed.
Richardson’s contract is guaranteed so unless another team is willing to take a flier on him it’s likely you’ll see him in Raptors red next season. While we’ve certainly not given up on him, a ball-dominant and inefficient scorer is not what the Raptors need considering their new offensive mandate and wealth of effective options in isolation.
- The jury is out on Malachi, he needs to define his role in the NBA before he’s defined as a non-NBA player. At 21 years-old he still has time ahead of him, but he needs to provide a discernible skill that teams at the NBA level would take interest in.
The Toronto Raptors signed Alfonzo McKinnie on a one-year deal with a team-option to return for 18-19
(Raptors 905) 29.9 MIN, 14.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .348 3P%, .504 2P%, .714 FT%
Alfonzo McKinnie, Fonzie, worked his way into Toronto Raptors fans’ hearts in the off-season with a heartfelt and honest AMA and wasn’t really heard from after that. In him fans dreamed of Shawn Marion, realistically saw Jamario Moon, and ended up with a product that we’re not too sure of yet. The skills that endeared him to the Raptors at the beginning of the season seemed prime for development but never quite did throughout the 17-18 season.
Fonzie could jump out of the gym, hit the occasional three, and use his athleticism to get into lanes and disrupt shots on the defensive end. That’s what won him the spot over sniper Kyle Wiltjer and KJ McDaniels, a player with four years of NBA experience. With the 905 his effort was still there but his defensive propensity and outside shooting were things that seemed to plateau rather than improve. He’s certainly got the work ethic, beating out former NBAers is no small task, but the next step should be showcased in the upcoming NBA Summer League.
McKinnie only has a team option for the upcoming season so there’s debate as to whether he will return. With Malachi Richardson’s guaranteed contract it seems he’s primed to get cut for financial reasons, but don’t be surprised if you see him on the summer league roster or joining on a two-way.
- He’s a likable kid with a penchant for grabbing boards. Having a high motor is a skill that is valued in this NBA, so don’t be surprised to see him given more chances. You can teach a jumpshot, but you can’t teach this kids effort and work ethic.