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Prospect Report: NBA G-League Player of the Month for now, but what’s next?

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Chris Boucher wins the NBA G-League Player of the Month for November, Jordan Loyd is not bad, and Malachi with a... I can’t even describe it.

The Raptors 905 Prospect Report is back, and with at least a month in, we’re starting to see certain trends validated, such as Chris Boucher is really good (he’s got the digital hardware to show as the NBA G-League’s POTM), and Jordan Loyd is also good. Last week, the Raptors 905 travelled to face Erie BayHawks and Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and hosted the Grand Rapids Drive. Malachi got assigned to play against the Drive, and he dropped a Bebe-like statline.

Read along to find out more.

Jordan Loyd

31 PTS, 68.1% FG% (10.7/15.7), 62.5% 3P% (10/16 3PM/A), 5.7 REB, 4.7 AST, 2 STL, 0.33 BLK, 3 TOV, +23 +/-

Really, if the Raptors 905 didn’t have Chris Boucher, the fan-base would be all over Jordan Loyd. Last week, Loyd averaged 31 points, shot an insane 68% from the field including 62.5% from the perimeter, barely missed his free-throw attempts (going 19-21), yet everyone’s talking about Boucher.

I’m not trying to create friction here, but what I’m trying to say is, “Hey, Jordan Loyd is pretty good, too.”

Good

Kay Felder was not available against the Grand Rapids Drive earlier this week, and it meant full-time point guard duties for Loyd, and he did not disappoint. While Loyd only had 5 assists to show against the Drive, he did a good job finding and setting up his teammates, sadly, they weren’t hitting them even if they were wide open.

Last week, Loyd showcased that he can be an efficient player even with an increase in scoring load - He averaged 31 points in less than 16 shots.

Bad

Not a lot to talk about here. If I were to nitpick, he turns the ball over on a higher rate to my liking, and he could fix that by trying not to be too fancy and stop throwing those risky passes that have a high probability of turning it over. Aside from that, it’s a bit crazy to say this to someone who averaged 30+ points last week, but I think he should shoot more.

Miscellaneous

I mentioned last week that Jama Mahlalela’s entrusting more and more play-making duties to Loyd, and for the past few games, Coach Jama staggered his lineup where one of Boucher and Loyd would be on the floor at all times. This season, the all-bench lineup on the floor was terrible, it makes the Fred VanVleet-led bench lineup looked like a humming machine.

It’s going to be interesting to see Loyd’s growth as the primary point guard, now that Felder is no longer with the team. Heading into the season, I thought that Loyd should have been given the keys to the starting PG role.

It looks like even the G-League forgot about Loyd, they did not make a November highlight package for him, instead, I’ll post his last three games:

Chris Boucher

30.3 PTS, 61.1% FG% (11/18), 15.9% 3P% (2/13 3PM/A), 15.7 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 3.3 BLK, 3.7 TOV, +49 +/-

NBA G-League Player of the Month, en-route to NBA G-League MVP. Maybe a full-time roster spot soon? Could he be the thrid big that we need in the rotation? I’m definitely on this Canadian KD hype train/bandwagon. Don’t at me.

Good

You know what’s crazy? Boucher had a bad shooting week around the perimeter. When he was dropping thirty-point games previously, it was easy to say, “Oh, he’s got X 3PMs.” That wasn’t the case last week, as it was a combination of teams running him off the perimeter and Boucher just missing wide open shots.

Boucher adjusted pretty well to his bad shooting nights and made his defenders pay by repeatedly blowing by them like a wing for an easy layup or dunk. Regardless of his three-point struggles, he’s still capable of bunching together ten or 15 straight points, scoring either on ISO drives, cuts to the basket, posting up, or just by being tall and long around the basket.

Bad

Opposing teams know that the Raptors 905 is a Boucher and Loyd show, and it’s fascinating to see that they chose to go after Boucher and try to take him out. Teams have been successful in chasing him out of the perimeter area (threes are better than twos?), and also attacking Boucher on defence by posting him up.

Boucher’s had more than a few games now where he was taken to school repeatedly by opposing team’s post players, and he’s got some fundamental issues to work on outside of being “strong enough” — and mainly about positional defence, such as:

  • Preventing the post up player get deep position before the ball entry; and
  • Fronting or cutting off the passing angle instead of just staying behind.

Miscellaneous

Boucher seems to be learning on the fly, as while Mad Ants’ Alize Johnson and Drive’s Johnny Hamilton took him to school on the post repeatedly in the first half, Boucher made the adjustments in the second half to shut them down.

I hate to say this, because it would make watching Raptors 905 not as fun, but I think the Raptors should think about calling Boucher up and let him get a taste of rotation minutes so that he knows what he needs to work on when he gets sent back down to Mississauga. An extremely mobile big that can shoot from the perimeter, put the ball on the floor, catch bounce/short passes and finish, rebound, and block shots? Why not?

Malachi Richardson

2 PTS, 0.0% FG% (0/12), 0.0% 3P% (0/3 3PM/A), 7 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 0 BLK, 4 TOV, +20 +/-

I don’t know where to start here. Maybe because Malachi had been riding the pine since his record outburst against the Erie BayHawks. However, a performance this atrocious should not happen to someone with his talent an experience. I bet even Jerry Stackhouse is upset.

Good

This is a tough one, because Malachi didn’t bring anything to the table offensively, and he was, at times killing possessions with his wild drives. However, Malachi was on the floor in the first half when they climbed their way back to make it a game, and in the second half, when they pulled away and called it game.

So what did he do?

Well, for one, he was fighting hard for rebounds. Two, he was pretty decent at guarding his man off the ball, which is an improvement from last year. But more importantly, he provided an excellent secondary play-making that the team sorely needed with Felder out. Malachi netted 5 assists, and they came in very timely when nothing was going right for the Raptors 905, and it helped create ball movement and the spacing against the aggressive defence by the Drive. Considering the limited practice time Malachi’s had with the 905, his play-making - even the ones that didn’t result in a basket were pretty good.

Bad

There’s a lot that can go here, but I’ll put it this way: This game was Malachi’s worst game offensively. Yes, Malachi’s shots weren’t dropping, but looking back at his two other games - both games where he performed well - the difference is night and day. Against the Drive’s aggressive defence, Malachi could barely get his shot up from the perimeter, and he had to resort to putting the ball on the floor, of which, he was unsuccessful whether he pulled up from the mid-range nor drove all the way to the basket. It came to a point where his drives to the basket were Bruno-esque — a drive with no direction/plan whatsoever, and no counter move and would end up as a turnover or a brick.

Defensively, he could not stay in front of his man (on-ball) and pretty much sloshed through Malachi on drives to the basket. Malachi also had a hard time navigating through opposing team’s screens, he looked lost at times trying to find his man.

Miscellaneous

With Norman Powell coming back soon, I really hope the Raptors assign Malachi to Mississauga for an extended period. He seems to be much better playing consistently than riding the pine.