When the NBA announced the addition of two-way contracts last year, the expectation was for a team to sign a young, raw player they could develop between their G League squad and the main club.
Instead, the Toronto Raptors brought in Lorenzo Brown (27), an established G-League vet and Malcolm Miller (24), who’s now an intriguing (if currently injured) prospect flying under the radar overseas.
The Raptors doubled-down on this strategy, and this year, they brought in Jordan Loyd as one of their two-way contract players. Loyd is similar to Miller — both were not a highly regarded prospect in the collegiate level, yet they flourished once they started playing overseas.
Loyd also fits the mould of the low-end prospects the Raptors have brought in for the past few years: late second rounders or undrafted players, senior-year/older prospects that can theoretically help right away if they develop as expected. Loyd is joined by camp hopefuls Chris Boucher (25), Eric Moreland (27), Kay Felder (23), and Kyle Collinsworth (26) this year. Norman Powell, Fred VanVleet, Brown, Miller, Alfonso McKinnie, Nigel Hayes to name a few the previous years. Heck, even Delon Wright and Pascal Siakam were considered as “older prospects” when they declared.
But with the Raptors’ glut of guards and wings, it’s hard to see Loyd playing meaningful minutes this season. Instead, this is a move with the future in mind. The Raptors don’t have a first-round draft pick next season, and the team is heading into a very unpredictable season, during which we might see some roster movements mid-season, or a potential reshaping of the roster, depending on the season’s outcome.
C.J. Miles’ contract and skill set makes him a moveable asset, Malachi Richardson’s contract makes him a trade chip, Danny Green and Brown will be free agents after this season, Powell’s name will get dangled on most Raptors trade rumours; and will the Raptors match a Delon Wright offer if it’s in the $8-10 million range? To top it off, the Raptors might be in the tax range depending on how free agency (*cough*Kawhi*cough*) shapes up next year.
If the Raptors can develop Loyd into the player they think he can be — a combo guard with decent range — then they also cover the loss of their 2019 first round draft pick that was traded to the Spurs as part of the Kawhi trade.
Ultimately, this is a season-long tryout for Jordan Loyd - to show not just the Raptors, but the rest of the league, that he can play. It’s very likely that Loyd will be given the keys to be the main point guard for the Raptors 905 to help him develop into the team’s lead point guard — a goal that’s not far-fetched even though he spent the majority of his collegiate and professional career as a shooting guard.
Jordan Loyd did turn heads during the 2016-17 NBA then-D-League season, when he took over the starting point guard spot late in the season after Julyan Stone (Raptor alum) left the team to play overseas.
Loyd bumped his numbers to 18/5/5 against two turnovers as a starter, including a 30 point-11 assist gem on his first game as a full-time starter against the Grand Rapids Drive. At 25 years old age, listed at 6’4” and 210 pounds, this is the player the Raptors are hoping to have for the coming year.