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Prospect Report: (Don’t) Forget about Malachi

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This week, it’s all about Malachi Richardson’s dominance, Chris Boucher, and Jordan Loyd showing us some new fancy things.

NBA G League Raptors 905 Prospect Report: (Don’t) Forget about Malachi Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the Raptors 905 played three games: an early kids day matinee game November 13th against the Erie BayHawks, November 15th at Maine against the Red Claws, and November 17th against the Delaware Blue Coats. This Prospect Report covers the first two games as Jordan Loyd, Chris Boucher, and Malachi Richardson were recalled to play against the Windy City Chicago Bulls the same night. Keep an eye on the Dial905 column for a summary of these games.

Jordan Loyd

21 PPG, 50% FG% (7.5/15), 20% 3P% (1.5/7.5 3PM/A), 4.5 REB, 8 AST, 1.5 STL, 2.5 TO, +12.5 +/-

Jordan Loyd still doesn’t have a signature game for the Raptors 905 (although he’s got two signature dunks so far), but he has provided coach Jama Mahlalela with a solid second or third option on offense.

Quietly, Loyd is averaging more than 20 points per game on the season, and could be netting more than that had he shot well from the perimeter.

Good

For my 2018-19 Prospect Report Player Preview, I wrote that maybe the 905 can develop Loyd as a combo guard that can create his own shot and also be a good play-maker. There was very little evidence to this during the Raptors 905’s first week as Jama decided to play Loyd off the ball, with Kay Felder handling the rock most of the time.

An injury to Myck Kabongo against the Erie BayHawks forced Jama to utilize Loyd more as a ball-handler, and he did not disappoint. Through two games, Loyd dished out 16 assists — providing the Raptors 905 with excellent ball movement, understanding and feeding “who’s hot.” Loyd barely pounded the rock like John Wall, and instead did an excellent job distributing like Tomas Satoransky (yes, I went there). The best part here is how natural it looked for Loyd to find his teammates whether they were open or leading them to open/easier shots.

Bad

Loyd’s inconsistent perimeter shooting continued last week. After shooting a good 3 of 7 from deep against the BayHawks, Loyd followed it up with an egg, going 0 for 8 against the Red Claws.

Misc

Loyd finally got his NBA run and his first basket last week against the Chicago Bulls, where he started off with two free throws and followed it up with two three-point shots, going 2 for 2 on the night.

Chris Boucher

29.5 PPG, 63.6% FG% (10.5/16.5), 35.7% 3P% (2.5/7 3PM/A), 8.5 REB, 1.5 AST, 0.5 STL, 5 BLK, 1.5 TO, +18 +/-

A new week brings in another set of games for Boucher to pull off some new things that would make one (me) say “wow, he can do that?”

Good

We all know that he can shoot from the perimeter, but my biggest takeaway from last week’s game is how good Boucher is at catching passes in stride and finishing.

If you follow me on Twitter, I’ve been on a “no in-traffic bounce pass to our bigs unless it’s direct to their mitts” truther. The same thing applies when they are on the move. Catching the ball mid-stride would almost always result in any of these things:

  • a fumble;
  • an offensive foul; or
  • a bad finish.

I’m saying this because Jonas Valanciunas, Serge Ibaka, and Greg Monroe — all way better options at C than Boucher is at this point — have trouble catching the ball (and finishing) mid-stride because they’re either slow-footed or they have stone hands (maybe both).

Meanwhile, Boucher had no issues catching the ball mid-stride and finishing the shot smoothly, or with authority. Whether it’s a lob, bounce pass, shovel/chest pass, and even passes that are off target, his huge mitts will catch it and finish the play in a variety of ways. Boucher also demonstrated the ability to make a mid-air adjustment if his shot was taken away as can be seen in the video below:

Bad

There were only a couple of games to cover last week, and the BayHawks didn’t show up. While Boucher did get into early foul trouble against the Red Claws, it was more of a product of him being the only big man to defend the paint, and sometimes, against multiple offensive players.

If I really have to nitpick on one thing that I didn’t like (it’s not necessarily bad) last week, it’s Boucher’s tendency to drift too much around the perimeter, especially if he knows that the pass is not going his way.

Misc

As much as he looked good in the G-League, Boucher looked a bit stiff in garbage time against the Bulls, as he air-balled both of his three-point attempts; still, he showed up on defence, swatting two shots in six minutes of playing time.

Malachi Richardson

34 Points, 55.6% FG% (10/18), 53.3% 3P% (8/15 3PM/A), 4 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 0 TO, +24 +/-

“Malachi was assigned to the G-League’s Raptors 905 for last Tuesday’s game against Erie Bayhawks, and he came down to Mississauga to destroy them” is something that I never thought I would use start my Prospect Report on Malachi, but then, he really destroyed the Erie Bayhawks.

Good

Malachi had one of those “in the zone” games against the Erie BayHawks where he dropped 34 points, including eight 3-pointers, in just three quarters. Throughout this article I kept pointing out how bad the BayHawks defence was, but it’s still up to Malachi to find his spots and hit his shots.

One of my earlier issues with Bruno Caboclo and Malcolm Miller (at the beginning of the season) was that they were just standing around the perimeter and waiting for the pass. Against the BayHawks, Malachi did an excellent job reading what the defense was doing and drifting to those open spots while also providing a good passing angle to the teammate that would initiate the drive-and-kick.

One under-the-radar development that Malachi has shown this year is that he’s getting better at finishing his drives to the basket. He’s not the fastest, nor an above-the-rim finisher, nor does he have a quick first step, so absorbing the contact and finishing is something of a welcome development for him.

Malachi looks really healthy and in-shape right now, and because of his forgettable season last year, he’s still the guy that dropped over 20 points per game during his rookie season in the G-League. Malachi is closer to that person now (if not better) than the Malachi that we saw last season.

Bad

I’m not taking (or dishing) any slander against Malachi based on how he played in the G-League last week, and deservedly so — as he played well above expectations offensively, and the BayHawks didn’t show up so his defence looked decent at the very least.

Misc

With a handful of players down against the Chicago Bulls, Malachi played a season-high in minutes. While his early rotation minutes were rough — turning the ball over and bad on-ball defence — Malachi showed flashes of what he can do: He looked confident going hard in transition for an and-1 and looked “at home” hitting those corner threes after a kick out.