The 905 have had a good start to the 2016-17 season. At the mid-point, the team is 18-7 and first in the Eastern Conference. The 905 had sky high expectations at the beginning of the year as many thought this was the best D-League team in the league, with the deepest roster and, in Jerry Stackhouse, one of the best coaches. So far, they look to have fulfilled expectations all-around.
So, here’s where things stand with the 905 as we grade the team at mid-season.
Bruno Caboclo: Grade B
The stats may not look like Bruno is having a successful year so far in the D-League, but the stats are not as important for Caboclo and his development. The 905 want him to take strides on defense, his maturity, as well as his consistency. All of which Caboclo has done so far this season. Caboclo is currently averaging 9.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. He is currently shooting 39.3% from the field and 30.2% from three.
Brady Heslip: Grade B+
Heslip, the local point guard, has improved a lot this season. He came to the team as a shooting specialist, but now acts as the 905’s starting point guard when Fred VanVleet isn’t around. Heslip has started to look more comfortable running the point, and — oh yeah — his shot is still falling. Heslip is currently averaging 13.5 points, and 3.1 assists while shooting 41.9% from three and 42.1% from the field.
John Jordan: Grade C+
Jordan has been the backup point guard, or on the inactive list if VanVleet is with the roster. However when Jordan sees the court he does run the point well and would rather make the nice pass than score. Although not always leading to an assist, Jordan still keeps the ball moving and the team doesn’t miss a beat when Jordan takes over at the point. Jordan is currently averaging 5.5 points and 1.8 assists per game, while shooting 52.9% from three and 46.4% from the field.
CJ Leslie: Grade A-
Leslie at the beginning of the season was coming off the bench, before playing well enough to move into a starting role. Leslie has been one of the best players on the 905, as well as one of the most consistent. Leslie has been a big part to the success of the 905 in the club’s second season. So far this year, Leslie is averaging 10.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Leslie is also up to shooting 58% from the field. Not bad.
Yanick Moreira: Grade B
Moreira was with the Raptors in training camp and came to the 905 when he was cut. He became the 905’s starting centre before Walter Tavares was claimed by the team. Moreira has been huge in the post in a guard heavy league, which usually has him guarding smaller and faster “big.” This season Moreira is averaging 7.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 45.5% from the field.
Goodluck Okonoboh: Grade D
Goodluck Okonoboh should get a A+ just for his name, but unfortunately he hasn’t played much as one of team’s regularly inactive players. Okonoboh was once a top high school prospect committed to UNLV who declared for the NBA draft after two seasons. He went undrafted and entered the D-League draft, where the 905 made a deal to acquire him. Okonoboh has played in only three games for an average of 5.8 minutes per game. He has yet to score a basket but is averaging 1.7 rebounds and 0.3 blocks per game.
Will Sheehey: Grade B+
Will Sheehey like Leslie, came off the bench in the beginning of the season before earning a starting role. Sheehey has been a key part to the success of the 905 as he is very consistent with his scoring and defense. Sheehey was acquired via the expansion draft and in his first season with the 905 is currently averaging 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He’s also shooting 48.5% from the field and 34.3% from three.
E.J. Singler: Grade A-
Singler is an all around player and he is showing it again this year in the D-League. Most would consider him a so called “quad-A” player, one who is a bit too good for the D-League but not quite able to compete nightly in the NBA. The 2-way contracts that are coming to the NBA should help him the most. Singler has been a leader on this 905 roster, either starting or providing a spark off the bench. This season Singler is averaging 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Singler is also shooting 41.2% from the field and 36.7% from three.
Edy Tavares: Grade A
Tavares have been a huge part of the 905’s defense as well as being productive on the offensive end as well. Tavares has dominated the post game against much smaller bigs and is enjoying a nice block party in the D-League. So far Tavares is averaging 10.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Be advised: you should know better than to try and shoot floaters near Tavares.
Axel Toupane: Grade A+
Toupane has been the best 905 player hands down and should be back in the NBA. Toupane has been better than last season before his call up to the Nuggets and looks like he learned quite a bit from his time in the NBA. It doesn’t matter if Axel is coming off the bench or starting, he is dominating the competition. This season he is averaging 16.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He’s also shooting 49.1% from the field and 36.7% from three. Look for Toupane to pop up on an NBA roster soon.
Jarrod Uthoff: Grade C+
Uthoff’s start to his D-League career was not the best, but slowly the stretch four’s shots are dropping, and he is looking more comfortable in Stackhouse’s system. Uthoff was in camp with the Raptors and has an ‘NBA body’ but just needs to put it all together to be an effective player. This season, Uthoff is averaging 7.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 43.0% from the field and 47.5% from three.
Negus Webster-Chan: Grade C-
A local tryout player who made the team is regularly on the inactive list, as you may expect. Still, Webster-Chan did get some playing time and the odd start at the beginning of the season — he just hasn’t shown much by way of productivity. He currently is averaging 11.1 minutes per game, but has only appeared in 12 games out of 25. He is averaging 2.7 points per game, 1.1 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game.
Antwaine Wiggins: Grade B-
Wiggins came to the 905 as the team’s first pick used in the D-League draft. Wiggins was known as a defensive specialist and that’s exactly what he has shown so far this season. Wiggins told me if his 3-ball shot is dropping he feels like a complete player. Unfortunately, this season he is shooting 28.6% from three, to go with an impressive 50.0% overall from the field. He is also averaging 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
Fred VanVleet: Grade A
VanVleet has run the 905 offense extremely well this season and is now getting rotation minutes with the Raptors. Toronto reamins high on VanVleet and you can see why — he is straight-up producing in the D-League. VanVleet is averaging 16.3 points, 7.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game while also shooting 40.0% from the field and 35.7% from three.
And now, on to the second half of the season.