Photo Credit: Blake Murphy/Raptors Republic
Everyone knows how important the Toronto Raptors development program has been to their success in the last five or so years. The process has helped now-stars such as Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet find their strengths and helped minimize their weaknesses, eventually turning them into All-Star caliber players.
However, in a transition year for the organization, the development program and their G League affiliate, Raptors 905, will play a bigger role than ever. In previous years when the Raptors were contending, the affiliate was used to find some rotational gems like Chris Boucher, but now it’ll be needed to develop the next wave of front-end talent like it did with Siakam and VanVleet.
With the announcement last week that the 905 will be back in Mississauga, it makes the job that much easier to get the young players time with both clubs, but also makes it easier to keep tabs on them with the G League.
The Raptors have a lineup that features at least 10 solid or better rotation players that could spike if some of the fliers they took on fringe NBA talent hit. It would be unlikely that all the young players could get meaningful minutes right away. Even if they had the space, it wouldn’t necessarily be great for a young player like Banton or Johnson to get thrown into the fire right away and be tasked with going up against some of the best talents in the world. That can absolutely wreck a young player’s confidence and that’s a tough thing to get back once it’s lost. That is where the 905 comes in and what it can do.
How the 905 will help the young players
The Raptors’ current roster features five rookies — Scottie Barnes, David Johnson, Dalano Banton, Justin Champagnie, and Ish Wainwright. Barnes likely won’t see a ton of time with the 905 as he’ll get a chance in the rotation to make an impact, but for the others that went in either the second round or undrafted, the 905 will give them a chance to find their roles as future NBA players.
Beyond those five players, there are a number of young players who could be sent to the 905 if they don’t make the roster out of camp. New acquisitions like Reggie Perry or their reported interest in Alex Antetokounmpo will also have a chance to ply their trade with the 905, with hopes that they can earn a two-way or even standard contract with the Raptors in the future.
The Raptors have relied heavily on the 905 in recent years to give players they didn’t have room for, a chance to get valuable development minutes. We’ve detailed the development program process and likened it to a college program, where you finish after three or four years and are ready for the workforce (the NBA).
Obviously, not everyone that goes to the 905 and is put through the development program will work out or become a high-end player like Siakam and VanVleet. But there will undoubtedly be players that the program helps, even in just giving them confidence in their overall skillset.
Although it’s not the NBA, the G League still features some very talented players and the competition is stiff, considering everyone is fighting for the same goal of getting an NBA contract and wants to impress. What the Raptors 905 have been able to do is get those guys to buy into a common goal of getting everyone to develop within the structure of the team. No one player’s development is put ahead of another’s (even if a player like Barnes’ development does matter more) and they all feel as though they have a chance to make the Raptors roster if they work hard and develop.
It also gives them the opportunity to get comfortable with what the Raptors want to do from a scheme perspective, so when they do arrive, they’ll be prepared for what Nick Nurse and his coaching staff are asking of them. It works in the other direction as well, with Nurse’s staff knowing exactly what the player excels at and where they’re comfortable without the player having to be put in an awkward position of telling the coaching staff what his potential weaknesses are.
If this is the next wave of future Raptors development talent that will eventually lead them back to contender status, then it starts right away in Year One.