The Raptors 905 had three games last week: A tough loss against division rival Westchester Knicks, sandwiched by a couple of easy wins against the Erie BayHawks and Wisconsin Herd. Let’s see how the prospects performed:
Lorenzo Brown missed his fourth straight game, as he’s still out nursing his ankle injury, and the team is struggling without him. The 905 is now 2-2 without Brown, and it’s clear that the team is missing Brown’s scoring punch and stability at the point guard spot.
16.3 PTS 17-35 FG (48.6%), 23.1% 3FG (3-13), 6 REB, 1.3 AST, 1.3 STL, 1.7 TO, -3 +/-
Alfonzo McKinnie is starting to figure out what his calling card is, and his ticket to an NBA team’s rotation.
Since the end of the Bruno Experiment, McKinnie has been on a tear with his improved play. McKinnie’s stats won’t wow a lot of boxscore readers, but if you watch him play for the past few weeks, there’s more pep to his step/jump/sprint, and we’re finally seeing him take advantage of his strengths for the majority of the game.
McKinnie’s motor, elevation, hustle, and relentless attack to the rim were on full display against the Knicks and the Herd; I lost track of how many times he dunked and beat everyone down the court on a fastbreak. If he can only make his perimeter shot consistently, I would be excited to see McKinnie getting some minutes with the Raptors’ bench group in place of C.J. Miles.
McKinnie is also getting better at reading how his defender is playing his drives to the basket, and it feels like the (G League) game is “starting to slow down” for him, enabling him to pick apart his defender on his drives to the basket.
McKinnie’s perimeter shooting is still suspect, and it showed as he only shot 3-of-13 (23.1%) last week. The only silver lining here is that McKinnie won’t turn down open threes even if he’s struggling. He looked confident hitting a clutch three against the Knicks late in the fourth quarter.
Against the BayHawks, it’s a little bit disappointing to see McKinnie go without a field goal (six attempts), but I’m more down about the fact that he did not have an impact elsewhere. Given the way he’s hustling these past few games, we’ll chalk it up to an off night.
I can’t find any videos, most likely because the shot did not go in, but McKinnie tried to end the Herd’s Plumlee’s career (sorry, I can’t be bothered figuring out which Plumlee).
18.3 PTS 18-32 (56.3%), 50% 3FG (10-20), 7.7 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1.7 TO, -7 +/-
Malcolm Miller is adjusting just fine to his new role.
After having a bad offensive run last week, Miller bounced back with a string of games where he shot better offensively and showcased his other talents outside of his perimeter shooting. Miller shot 50% from the perimeter, but this percentage would have been much higher if he was not put into a situation where the ball ended up on his hands with the shot clock about to expire.
Life without Bruno is also affecting Miller, as he (and McKinnie) is now expected to rotate to the basket to provide help as a rim defender and to defend bigger/taller players on the block. Miller is starting to show signs that he can be a plus defender. With Brown out, Miller is also beginning to show his play-making ability, dropping five dimes against the Herd.
Miller got burned a few times by the Knicks’ Nigel Hayes, partly because he was trying to read how the play was unfolding. In those moments, he would lose track of his man — it happens. Meanwhile, Miller’s turnover rate is low, but when he does commit one, it’s usually coming off his drives, as he’s susceptible to getting stripped or making up his mind that he’s driving to the basket to make the pass.
Miller is starting to rack up a collection of 3-point highlight reel consisting of buzzer beaters, 27+ foot prayers, and bankers, as can (not) be seen below:
7.7 PTS 6-23 FG (26.1%), 30.8% 3FG (4-13), 3.7 REB, 3 TO, -13 +/-
We are starting to see what Malachi Richardson can, and cannot do, and it doesn’t look promising.
Malachi started the game against the BayHawks on fire, and he ended up hitting 3-of-6 from the perimeter (4-of-8 field goals altogether), for his best shooting night as a 905 assignee.
However, I’m more impressed with Malachi’s passing, an ability I didn’t know he had in him. Malachi averaged 2.3 assists last week, but the average was brought down by a stinker against the Knicks. Against the Herd, Malachi notched four dimes, and it could have easily been six assists if the recipients made their shot or did not get fouled.
Malachi struggles when his perimeter shot is not on, and his drives to the basket provide no lift, nor creativity for him to have a better chance at a higher percentage shot. Defensively, Malachi looks like a negative defender, as he got burned a few times blowing his defensive assignment while having no-namers like Billy Garrett score on him at will.
Malachi seems to be getting the Bruno tough love treatment from coach Jerry Stackhouse, as he got benched to start the second half against the Knicks.