Although the Raptors have struggled to put up wins this season, with last night being no exception, the individual play of a number of players has been rather encouraging for this team going forward. The HQ's Scott Campsall takes a look at the recently strong play of former D-Leaguers Alan Anderson Ben Uzoh and the potential for a return to the Raptors next season.
The Raptors were in tough last night against the Miami Heat who, despite sitting both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, manhandled the Dinos to the tune of a 96-72 victory. The Raptors were actually competitive in the first half before putting up a franchise-worst 23 points in the 3rd and 4th quarter combined. An effort like that will barely get you past the Bobcats, never mind a team as talented as the Miami Heat.
Although the game didn’t quite turn out how the Dinos would have hoped—even if it did for fans rooting for ping pong balls—there were a couple of positives for the team to take away from the contest.
For starters James Johnson was impressive once again coming off of the bench for Dwane Casey. Johnson finished with a team-high 18 points and also had six rebounds to go along with three assists.
Outside of Johnson there wasn’t much else to get excited about. Only two other players scored in double figures, DeMar DeRozan—who was extremely inefficient, making just five of his 14 attempts—and the suddenly consistent Alan Anderson.
Anderson finished the game with a solid 15 points on seven of eighteen shooting and while his overall numbers weren’t that great—he was a whopping -26 on the night—he has emerged as a consistent look at that small forward spot for the Raptors down the stretch of the season.
Both Anderson and his fellow D-League call up Ben Uzoh have been stellar during their stint with the Raptors. Anderson has averaged 8.7 points and 3.2 rebounds on 45 percent shooting in just 22 minutes per game since joining the club on March 16th. Anderson has also proven to be a rather capable defender and perhaps more impressively, a shooter as he entered last night’s game shooing over 51% from beyond the arc—an area of the game in which the Raptors could use some serious help.
Point guard Ben Uzoh has been no slouch either. Uzoh has given the Dinos a reliable look at the point guard spot, averaging 4 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 17 minutes a per game while filling in for injured guards Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless.
Although Uzoh’s numbers don’t exactly jump out at you, he has proven he has the ability be a steady hand off of the bench in either a third or possibly backup point guard role. Uzoh’s ability to rebound and defend from that point guard spot also make him a viable candidate to return to the team next season, possibly in a role similar to that which Anthony Carter played with the Raps for a portion of this season.
Likewise, Alan Anderson has done more than enough in his brief time with the team to prove that he belongs on an NBA roster. Anderson has done the best with the opportunity he has been given in Toronto and at 29 years of age seems to have finally found a home in the NBA.
While it is unlikely that he is a starter at this level, Anderson has proven more than capable of giving his team a solid boost in 10-20 minutes of floor time each night. Based on his shooting and defense alone, Anderson is definitely worth consideration for this team going forward into next season.
There is a great deal up in the air when it comes to the Raptors' roster heading into one of the most crucial offseasons in team history but, the play of both Uzoh and Anderson have certainly given Mr. Colangelo a little something extra to think about.
Having one or both of these former D-Leaguers on the roster next season could serve to help bolster the Raps’ already stellar bench play. With the possible departure of Jerryd Bayless there could be even more minutes to be had at that guard spot off of the bench.
Even if it isn’t with the Raptors, rest assured that you will see both Ben Uzoh and Alan Anderson again on an NBA roster come opening day net season.