Leading up to the start of the 2014-15 season, we'll be asking 20 questions about the team. Some of them more serious than others. All of them hopefully interesting or at least enough to spark a meaningful discussion. After hours of brainstorming, we came up with a perfect name for these articles, we're calling them 20Q's.
Jordan Hamilton began his NBA journey at Dominguez High School, the same alma mater where Tyson Chandler, Tayshaun Prince and Cedric Ceballos tipped off their careers. Hamilton was one of the best players in the nation during his senior season at Texas, putting up huge scoring numbers night-in and night-out. By the time recruiting season came to an end, Hamilton was a top-10 recruit behind the likes of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Lance Stephenson and Derrick Favors.
While he wore number 23 in high school and for some time at Texas, he prefers the number 3 because he's the third child in his family.
Every Raptors fan knows the story by now. Caboclo was branded as being "two years away from being two years away" by ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, but that statement speaks more to Bruno being an enigma rather than a risk/reward type player. Caboclo was the MVP of the Basketball Without Borders campaign in Argentina this past year beating out many young up-and-comers including Canadian phenom Justin Jackson.
Caboclo reportedly did not hold a private workout for a single NBA team during the pre-draft process, but still drew late first round consideration on draft night. During last season with Brazilian side Pinheros, Caboclo played on the same team as former Raptors Rafael Araujo and Leandro Barbosa. Caboclo received offers to play overseas, but decided to remain in Brazil instead of moving on to Europe to develop his game.
Another Brazilian, Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira was a highly touted prospect going into the 2011 NBA Draft, but later decided to withdraw his name from the pool. Unlike Caboclo, Nogueira moved to Spain at 17 years old to play for CB Estudiantes after picking up the sport professionally two years prior. Nogueira has been a part of the Brazilian National team since suiting up for the U-19 team in 2011. Drafted in the first round by the Celtics last year (and quickly traded twice to Dallas and then Atlanta), Nogueira spent last season in Spain due to contractual issues. He eventually did sign a deal with the Raptors while in a Starbucks.
Last time Raptors fans saw James Johnson, the team had tumbled to a 23-43 record and been pushed to the lottery. After picking Terrence Ross with the eighth pick, Johnson was deemed expendable and was traded to the Kings. Johnson had an up-and-down season in Sacramento, but picked up his game last year as a jack-of-all-trades with the Grizzlies despite playing under 20 minutes a game.
Johnson is known as a defensive specialist both on the wing and in the post, and had his best years with the Raptors from 2010-2012. Johnson is one of two players in the NBA with Samoan heritage; along with Magic point guard Peyton Siva. Johnson comes from a family of fighters, his father Willie is a sixth degree black belt kick boxer while his mother is a black belt of her own. James is one of nine children, all of whom are black belts themselves, and he's won all seven of his MMA fights.
Cherry is very well known in his hometown of Oakland. He and Damian Lillard were touted as the best young players to come out of the area. Growing up, they became rivals and often competed against each other. Cherry played at Montana, while Lillard was at Weber State. It was Cherry and Montana who won two Big Sky championships and qualified for two NCAA tournaments (2010, 2012).
As a youngster, Cherry was a camper and later on a coach at the Golden State Warriors basketball camp. Cherry played the 2013 Summer League with the New Orleans Pelicans before heading over to Canton to play in the D-League. The Charge were the seventh seed in the playoffs, but were eliminated in the first round despite Cherry's 13.0 point, 5.0 rebound, 8.0 assist averages during the series.
The Georgia native is a 10-year NBA vet and still hasn't hit the 30-year age mark. One of the last players to be drafted out of high school, Williams was traded for the first time in his career this offseason. Despite leaving the Hawks, Williams still has close ties to Atlanta, returning to the city every offseason.
Williams holds a basketball camp in his home town of Snellville, Georgia, which he's run every summer for the past 10 years. Hip-hop is also a huge part of Williams' life, as it has pushed him to run his own music label, Uptown Sounds. Williams says he has been working on over 60 songs, but the other artists signed to the label are his main focus. In 2011, Williams was involved in an encounter with a would-be robber. He was able to talk the man into putting down his gun for the night and treated him to McDonalds instead.
Stiemsma emerged onto the NBA scene at age 26 after going undrafted in the 2008 draft. He briefly bounced around the world playing in Turkey and South Korea before joining the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development league in 2009. In 2011, Stiemsma was selected to Team USA's roster that participated in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara. He finished second in the tournament with 11 blocked shots and first in field goal percentage (.889) en route to grabbing a bronze medal.
Stiemsma has admitted to having dealt with depression since high school and again in college, where his mother and college trainer guided him to seek treatment. Since then, Stiemsma has worked with Families for Depression Awareness to help make his message more public.