Last week was a good one for the Raptors 905 organization. Still high of the success of their then D-League title last year, the 905’s home town of Mississauga was the site for the 2018 G League Showcase once again. On top of that, the team got to see the fruits of their labour with various 905 alumni killing it on the bench for the mother team.
It also helps that after a shaky start, the 905 came into the G League Showcase on a hot 9-game winning streak. (We’ll have more on the games themselves in tomorrow’s Dial 905 column; sadly the streak didn’t survive the weekend.)
The Raptors 905 played Santa Cruz Warriors (SCW) on the second day of the Showcase, and Sioux Falls Skyforce on on the last day. Here are some observations on the 905’s main prospects:
Age: 25 Years, 3 Months
McKinnie only played one game during the G-League Showcase, and it came against Santa Cruz Warriors. Alfonzo came out of the gate aggressive, but his shooting, especially in the perimeter leaves a lot to be desired.
McKinnie started the first quarter aggressively, and with the Showcase going on, I thought he was out to prove that he’s the best player on the floor. With his quickness and hops, he can cut/curl to the basket and either shoot over or Euro-step around defenders. Both of his 3-point makes came from the corners, which would be the type of shots that would be available for him with the Raptors in the NBA.
McKinnie is a good help defender, constantly looking out where the play is happening, and he’s quick at helping out — whether he’s rotating to contest at the rim, or taking a charge. He’s also shown that he can keep up with smaller guards trying to drive by him, using his quickness and length. He forced Quinn Cook into a turnover, and had a good contest on a Damion Lee drive.
McKinnie’s 3-point/perimeter shot is still shaky at best, it looks like he starts his shooting motion at the top of his jump, similar to Norman Powell, and he jumps higher on his shot compared to Malcolm Miller or Bruno Caboclo. While he’s good around the basket, it looks like his lack of handle weighs him down as he can’t drive left, or be creative in using his dribble to get by his man.
McKinnie is good at crashing the boards and as a help defender around the rim, but sometimes at the cost of losing his man.
Probably won’t be on any highlights since he missed it, but McKinnie’s Tomahawk dunk almost obliterated SCW’s Trevor Thompson.
Age: 24 Years, 10 Months
Miller played on a 905/Raptors same day back-to-back, and his shooting prowess earlier that day (with the 905) was on display during garbage time versus the Cavaliers on national TV.
Miller’s reputation as a marksman is as good as advertised. Against the Santa Cruz Warriors, Miller was very decisive, and his three was on point. While everyone is raving about his long distance shooting prowess, this game versus SCW may very well be his most complete game, as he brought it in offensively and defensively.
Miller has shown that he can defend on the dribble — I was very impressed with how he was able to keep up with Cook and end up rejecting his shot. He also had solid defensive rotations, and the willingness to take the hit for the charge. Miller also put his hops to work, as he was good at crashing the boards for the offensive rebound, and almost had a couple of chase down blocks.
Miller followed up his SCW game with a very uneventful game versus Skyforce, which is disappointing since he was given the starting spot due to McKinnie’s absence. His shot was off and looked like a one-trick pony (offensively) that couldn’t get his only trick going. He tends to camp on one spot on the perimeter and does not move a lot if the play is starting to look like it won’t involve him.
Miller doesn’t get the ball often, and when he does, he’s looking to shoot. Still, there was a loose ball play versus SCW when Miller picked up the ball at the middle of some mayhem around the free throw line for a no-look pass to Shevon Thompson that resulted in a dunk.
Age: 27 Years, 4 Months
If you don’t follow or watch the 905, you might be wondering who’s the fourth point guard in the line-up who occasionally makes an appearance for the Raptors whenever one of the point guards are not playing. You’d also wonder why he looks afraid to take a shot.
If you are familiar with Brown’s game for the 905 though, you’d be surprised that he’s only attempted those 18 shots. Night and day difference, as Brown can easily get at least 18 shots with the 905 any time he wants.
Brown is pretty much unstoppable with his one-on-one skills, crafty with his handle, and very unpredictable whether he’s going for a layup or a jumper in the paint. Against Skyforce, he was so smooth playing through pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop options, picking apart the defense that did not know whether he’d go for a drive, short jumper, or pass the ball to the roll/pop man after attracting the double team. Brown was basically the engine of the offense for the 905 team.
Brown has the scorer’s mentality, and from time to time he would go into hero-mode and forget about his teammates. More than a few times Brown missed a trailer on a fast break, or a wide open roll man on a pick-and-roll so that he could take the shot himself. When the offense is not in a set PnR or PnP situation, Brown struggles sometimes to come up with a play when he’s looking to facilitate first.
In the game against the Skyforce, near the end of the half, Brown picked the pocket of Derrick Walton Jr. near half court, and he went for a slam that Derrick Jones Jr. tried fruitlessly to chase down.
Age: 22 Years, 3 Months
It’s all about progress, right? Bruno had a decent game against SCW, where he was timid offensively but very much active defensively. Against Skyforce, he was a good-looking 3-and-D prospect. Good week overall, but “good” may not be enough for a Raptors fanbase expecting Bruno to dominate.
Solid rotation, utilizing his length for deflections, defending the rim, blocking shots, help defense, taking charges. Defensively, Bruno looks like a plus out there. If he can just improve upon his boxing out/rebounding skills, and if Caboclo plays at, say, a 1.2x faster pace, he could be a defensive stud in the G League (if not the NBA). Brown and Bruno seem to have a growing chemistry when it comes to those pick-and-pop 3s too. The 905 appear to run this play primarily to get Bruno some shots, as he can’t consistently create his own shots at this point.
Offensively, Caboclo lacks the strength to post up even smaller guards. He keeps driving to the left very slowly, a play that often ends up getting defended well, as meeting contact would mean a miss or a turnover for Bruno. It’s still not part of his instinct to box-out and he has a hard time squeezing the ball when trying to rebound in traffic.
Whenever there’s a situation for a rebound and Caboclo is out of position, he does not have a quick reaction in terms of trying to find other angles to sneak into the fray. Bruno is similarly built as Derrick Jones Jr, but whatever shortcoming Jones might have in the strength department is replaced by quickness and aggressiveness overall. In comparison, Bruno just doesn’t have the strength, quickness, or aggressiveness.
Against Skyforce, Caboclo had a sequence where he got the steal off of Skyforce’s Alonzo Gee as he tried to go for a drive, which led to a fast break going the other way. Caboclo ended up hitting Kennedy Meeks with a pass, but he missed the bunny. Somewhat surprisingly, Caboclo was right there to pick up the rebound for a putback dunk.