The 2017-2018 season saw the introduction of two-way contracts. Rosters spots that expand the regular roster to 17 from the original 15, granted said contracts can only spend a maximum of 45 days with the main club during the regular season and are inelgible for the playoffs.The Toronto Raptors took advantage of this and brought in two impressive prospects for the 17-18 season in experienced G Lorenzo Brown and long-range gunning F Malcolm Miller. Each had their own high’s and low’s with the 905 and Raptors, but overall showed themselves to have valuable and respected skillsets for today’s NBA.
6 July 2017, Signed a Two-Way Contract with the Toronto Raptors
(Raptors 905) 27.9 MIN, 12.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG, .379 3P%, .534 2P%, .798 FT%
Miller was signed over the offseason to fill what is probably the most important role in the NBA today, the 3&D spot. After shooting 40% from three during the previous season with the Maine Red Claws, Miller’s skillset seemed defined by the NBA season. At 6’7 and 95kg, the rangy small forward looked to win some time with the main club during a time when the Raptors wing position was occupied by only Derozan, Powell, and an unproven OG Anunoby.
With the 905, Miller was asked to play his role. Looking to improve on his defensive resume and continue his long-range ability, Miller’s season with the 905 seemed to plateau where other players took to being specialists in areas he regularly contributed. He certainly still scored his fair share of buckets, but with Best on the defensive end, Brown in distribution, and McKinnie on help-side rebounds, depth seemed to hurt Miller’s contributions.
Despite the lack of statistical improvement with the 905, a short stint with the Toronto Raptors, including 4 starts, allowed Miller to show some real NBA skills. While he was always the fifth option on offense, his defensive ability off the ball was duly noted. At the SF he never truly had an off night and games against the Knicks, Rockets, and Pacers showed that the athleticism and grind he shows in the G-League are enough to keep up with NBA wings. A perfect complement to what is still a sweet shooting stroke.
- Miller was in for a B-grade here due to his solid if not spectacular contributions for the 905 and excellent showing for his parent club. He loses a letter grade due to his G-League playoff performances. Against Grand Rapids, Westchester, and Austin he was barely noticable on the court, especially in the finals where his shooting ability was much needed. During a time that seemed an audition for a full-contract for the playoffs, Miller faltered.
- Miller will be with the Toronto Raptors’ Summer League team this July.
25 July 2017, Signed a Two-Way Contract with the Toronto Raptors
Named 17-18 G-League Most Valuable Player
(Raptors 905) 33.3 MIN, 18.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 8.8 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .330 3P%, .505 2P%, .792 FT%
Zo Brown was a different prospect than Miller. Brown had some established experience in the NBA as well as abroad when he signed a two-way contract with the Toronto Raptors and Raptors 905. A PG with a slick handle and penchant for getting to the rim, Brown is a big guard that fit the ideas of what Casey likes to see in his backcourt. After stops with Detroit, Phoenix, and Minnesota, a player of Brown’s caliber surely wanted to secure a roster spot and his season proved he deserves one.
Ball-dominant, streaky shot, and selfish were traits of Brown’s coming out of college. With the skillset Zo has you could say he was just born into an NBA that doesn’t value his abilities anymore. Despite the NBA’s differing philosophy on PG play, his season showed he had real intention of making the big-time.
While his scoring in the G-League has never been questioned, it was his ability to move the ball and initiate the play that teams questioned. Putting up 23.7 points per game and 4.0 assists per game with the Grand Rapids Drive in the previous season, Brown adjusted his focus, taking a dip in scoring while more than doubling his assist numbers for the Raptors 905.
Brown’s efforts rewarded him with the G-League MVP trophy. He not only adjusted his game to better fit today’s NBA he maintained his strengths while not compromising what makes him unique as a player. With 5 seconds left on the shot-clock and the ball in his hands, you’d be hard-pressed to believe Brown wouldn’t make a play. There’s still some questions regarding that consistency at the top level, but there’s not a third-string point-guard in the NBA that can really be considered better equipped than him.
- Brown won the contract for the NBA Playoffs and it was well deserved. The only real knock on Brown is his lack of a consistent three-point shot. If he can work that out he’ll be a valuable weapon in the NBA and at 28 time is running out for him to get those NBA dollars.