The Raptors 905 are pushing for the top seed in the G-League’s Eastern Conference, and there’s no better way of doing it than going on a five-game winning streak. Covered in this piece are the games (wins) against Canton Charge (March 10), Greensboro Swarm (March 13), Northern Arizona Suns (March 16), and South Bay Lakers (March 17).
During this period, we saw Lorenzo Brown come back from his injury, Malachi Richardson go through a rough stretch, and Nigel Hayes making an appearance in a 905 uniform. Keep reading to find out how they all performed.
22 PPG 25-62 FG (40.3%), 43.8% 3FG (7-16), 5.3 REB, 7.7 AST, 0.7 STL, 3.3 TO, +42 +/-
Rust? There’s no such thing, as Lorenzo Brown came back as if he did not miss any game at all.
It’s really important to emphasize here that Lorenzo Brown missed almost a month due to his injury, and he looked impressive in his first game back against Canton Charge. In fact, the game against the Charge might be Brown’s best offensive game for the Raptors 905 — and dare I say he looked like a legit NBA player that night.
Brown’s play-making was on point, his mid-range shots and drives to the basket were on-point, and more importantly, he was feeling it from the perimeter, going 4-of-5.
Overall, Brown played well during this period and provided the necessary firepower for the Raptors 905’s quest for the top seed.
Careless turnovers. Lorenzo Brown’s turnovers usually come in three varieties: a predictable cross-court pass; an out of control drive that results in an offensive foul or losing the ball; and Brown getting pick-pocketed while casually dribbling because he lowered his guard.
It looks like Lorenzo Brown is making a conscious effort on shooting more threes, as he is averaging at least five attempts per game, compared to just three for the entire month of February. Brown’s time off might have also given him more reps working on his perimeter shot, as he’s shooting almost 44 percent from the perimeter since he came back. Most importantly, he looks confident taking those shots.
11.3 PPG 19-36 FG (52.8%), 41.7% 3FG (5-12), 5.3 REB, 0.5 STL, 2 TO, +7 +/-
Alfonzo McKinnie is back at doing what he does best while he works on his perimeter skills.
It’s hard not to root for Alfonzo McKinnie when he plays. He’s very active in transition, will contest (and sky) for rebounds all the time, and will use his motor/quickness/length to defend to the best of his abilities.
On the last Prospect Report update, I noted that McKinnie only shot under 41 percent, which is because he struggled to create his own shots. This time, McKinnie went back to his strengths, getting his shots from transition/putbacks/cuts to the basket to pair with his on-going quest to be a perimeter threat. The result? Almost 53 percent shooting.
Aside from shot creation, confidence is still an issue for Alfonzo McKinnie. When McKinnie’s confidence is gone, he will pass up an open three-point shot or try to recklessly drive it to the basket. At this point, the odds are high that he’ll commit a turnover or take a bad contested shot.
Alfonzo McKinnie’s tomahawk dunks (cue: 0:50, 1:40) >>>
Make that 5 straight. @BMO Game Highlights pic.twitter.com/w0lpUEOxkm— Raptors 905 (@Raptors905) March 18, 2018
11 PPG 8-18 FG (44.4%), 35.7% 3FG (5-14), 2 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO, +22 +/-
Nigel Hayes’ audition for the last roster spot includes a couple of trips via #RoadToTheSix.
Nigel Hayes’ three-point shot is for real, as it was on display against the South Bay Lakers. While Hayes’ shooting form is not as smooth as Malcolm Miller’s (a mechanical two-motion shooting form), he looked confident in taking them and can make them even if his feet are not fully set.
Aside from Hayes’ perimeter shooting, it’s a pleasant surprise to see that he’s got a good awareness of where his teammates are on the floor and can hit them real quick with an assist. Hayes seems to have a solid basketball IQ (at least offensively) as demonstrated, for example, when he helped Kethan Savage (who was being pressed by two defenders near the midcourt) by sprinting to an angle where Savage could make a pass, and then, almost in one motion, quickly throwing a long pass to Fuquan Edwin for a wide-open trifecta.
It’s kind of lazy to focus on Nigel Hayes’ four turnovers against the South Bay Lakers, as some of them were good passes, and overall, it was just the lack of familiarity and timing with his new teammates.
If there’s anything to nitpick, Hayes played a total of 49 minutes, yet he only had four total rebounds.
As a small/power forward, Hayes had a couple of possessions where he tried to drive to the basket and then transitioned into a post move. It may not be an indication of a lack of drive-to-the-basket game, but he also looks comfortable popping a mid-range jumper. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that we need to see more of what Nigel Hayes can do.
5.3 PTS 7-24 FG (29.2%), 23.1% 3FG (3-13), 2.3 REB, 1.5 AST, 1 STL, 1.5 TO, -15 +/-
It’s a rough week for Malachi, and it’s starting to feel like, dare I say, “he’s two years away.”
If there’s one silver lining for Malachi Richardson during this stretch, it’s how he bounced back against the Greensboro Swarm and the South Bay Lakers. Against the Lakers, not only did Richardson looked confident in his shot, but he was active on defence. Richardson started the game with an excellent transition defense to contest a fastbreak layup, using his hops and verticality to prevent an easy basket. Richardson’s active hands caused a few deflections, and a couple of them led to a steal.
That said Malachi Richardson’s defense was, in general, also just awful for a few games. It’s hard to pinpoint a particular thing that he’s worse at because he was that bad defensively.
Richardson had a hard time staying in front of his man when he’s defending on-the-ball; he kept missing his defensive rotation; he looks lost during defensive scrambles and could not find a live body; would end up fouling to compensate for his lousy positioning.
Malachi Richardson earned a Bruno-esque quick hook from coach Jerry Stackhouse with a series of bad defensive plays:
- Fouled Marcus Thornton’s three-point shot that resulted in an and-1;
- Bad closeout on JaCorey Williams’ trey;
- Bad reach-in foul on a player not in a position to make any offensive play with seconds to go in the 1st quarter;
- Late on a defensive rotation under the basket.