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Prospect Report: The 905 prepare for the playoffs, and make plans for Nigel?

The prospects came back for the last game of the regular season, the 905 are headed to the playoffs, and we bid farewell to Nigel Hayes. For now.

The Raptors 905 finished their regular season last week and are heading into the playoffs with some of their key guys coming off a successful stint with the mother club.

Read on to see how they performed last week:

Malachi Richardson

Last Week: 8 PTS 3-7 FG (42.9%); 1-3 3FG 33.3%; 6 REB, 4 AST, +4

Malachi Richardson only played one game (against Reno Big Horns) last week due to a wrist injury, but sometimes an OK game can be a good thing. Why? This game makes it two straight games in a row where Malachi’s displayed much better effort on the defensive end.

Good

While Malachi Richardson still had some defensive lapses (see below), it’s clear that his playing time comes down to his effort on the defensive end. Effort on fighting through screens, a strong showing on double teams, and getting back in transition were quite noticeable against Big Horns. Now, if Malachi can keep this up and continue to refine the rough edges of his defensive game, maybe the 905 have something here.

Malachi also had a couple of aggressive drives to the basket where he’s decisive and finished strong.

Bad

Malachi Richardson still had his moments of lapses, which is something that’s not going to change overnight. Malachi can look lost getting back in transition, as he’s either trying to process the fast-unfolding play (and losing his man at the same time) or trying to look for his man instead of sticking to who he’s closest to at the moment.

Malachi is still rough around the edges when it comes to being a help defender, as he was late to rotate or indecisive to help a few times.

Misc

Malachi Richardson is in a tough situation as his playing time is highly dependant on his defensive effort. And with that as the measuring stick, it’s hard for him to supplant defensive whiz Fuquan Edwin for more rotation minutes. With that being said, I expect Malachi’s minutes to dwindle in the playoffs.

Malcolm Miller

Last Week: 21 PTS 6-13 (46.2%); 5-10 3FG (50%); 4-4 FT (100%); 6 REB; 1 AST; 2 STL; 1 BLK; 0 TOV; +13

Malcolm Miller returned to the Raptors 905 looking more and more like the player we all want him to be.

Good

Malcolm Miller’s perimeter game was on display against the Maine Red Claws, and he made them pay by going 5-of-10 from deep. There’s a lot more confidence in his shot, and his successful stint with the mother club might have something to do with that. It’s a shame that Malcolm did not get “fed” continuously when he hit three treys in a row.

Bad

It’s the last game of the season, and a non-bearing game, so the game is expected to be sloppy/sub-par. If there’s anything to nitpick with Miller, it could be that he’s too deferential and should be looking for his shots more.

Misc

The NBA regular season is winding down, and unless someone comes out of nowhere and steal the 15th roster spot, my money is on Malcolm Miller to get the nod.

Lorenzo Brown

Last Week: 24 PTS 9-20 FG (45%); 0-4 3FG; 7 REB; 8 AST; 1 STL; 5 TOV; +9

Lorenzo’s back, and it’s business as usual for the Raptors 905.

Good

Stackhouse missed Lorenzo Brown. Kennedy Meeks missed Lorenzo Brown. Heck, the Raptors 905 as a team could’ve had the top seed if not for Brown missing time due to injuries and the call-ups.

Brown provided stability and the scoring punch that we’re accustomed to seeing, and the poise to hit clutch shots in the fourth quarter.

Bad

I don’t know whether it’s his first game back, or because of the lack of meaning for this game, but Lorenzo Brown’s two on-going issues were on display against the Red Claws.

Brown’s tunnel vision was on full display against the Red Claws, and there were more than a few instances where he’s looked away his teammate to look for his own shot instead of passing to them.

Brown’s turnover machine was back as well, and the worse part about it is that majority of them were due to sloppiness rather than being pressured by the defense. In the NBA, Brown can’t afford to be a high-turnover guard.

Misc

Lorenzo Brown played his best Raptors game against the Magic, and I’m so happy to see him get the post-game interview. Brown looked like he was overwhelmed with having to do the interview, as he nervously answered Jack’s questions. Here’s the video below:

(h/t to r/torontoraptors user FeralMother)

Alfonzo McKinnie

Last Week: 10.3 PPG 12-32 (37.5%); 3-12 3FG (25%); 8.7 REB; 2 AST; 0.7 STL, 0.7 BLK, 1.7 TOV; +1

Alfonzo McKinnie is one of the only two prospects that played all three games last week, and his trend of inconsistent production continues.

Good

Effort, hustle, and will. Nobody worked harder than Alfonzo McKinnie when the Raptors 905 played against Agua Caliente. McKinnie almost willed the team to a win, but just came up short, as the team was missing a few players that night. It’s refreshing to see a player not give up on 50/50 (or less) plays.

There are Dirk Nowitzki/Russell Westbrook “10 rebounds”, where they were spoon-fed rebounds, and there are McKinnie rebounds where pretty much every single one required him to win the rebound battle or use his vertical leap to snatch the rebound ahead of everyone.

Bad

Alfonzo McKinnie had two rough games sandwiching his excellent effort game against Agua Caliente, but a common theme during the week was his lack of refined offensive moves.

McKinnie struggled to finish when he was defended well, primarily because it’s easy to read his move, and he does not provide any counter move at all. Even his driving floater was ineffective as the defenders were waiting for it.

Misc

No matter how bad Alfonzo McKinnie’s shooting from the distance, he seems to be capable of hitting timely and clutch ones when they need one.

Against Reno Bighorns, McKinnie was 1-of-5 from the three-point line entering the last two minutes of the regulation. Down six with just over a minute to go, McKinnie stepped into his favourite three-point spot and nailed a clutch shot to get the Raptors 905 within 3.

Nigel Hayes

Last Week: 4.3 PPG 5-20 FG (25%); 3-14 EFG (21.4%); 1 REB; 1.3 STL; 1.6 TOV; -26

It was a rough week for Nigel Hayes offensively, but despite his struggles, we learn more and more about what he can (and maybe cannot) do.

Good

As mentioned previously, Nigel Hayes did not have a good week offensively, especially from deep. However, there are a few things that he can do where he looks solid.

Hayes is capable of making good defensive rotations especially under the basket, and he’s pretty good at using his length by contesting and staying vertical without fouling. Hayes also displayed his defensive IQ by being able to read plays and using his length to cause deflections or going for the steal. Lastly, Hayes is a solid post defender — as long as he’s not guarding someone who’s got a lot of weight and/or height advantage over him.

Bad

I mentioned this issue last week, but I’m a bit down on Nigel Hayes’ lack of rebounding numbers. For him to have three total rebounds in three games is discouraging, especially for someone that I think would do well as a small-ball four offensively. Since Hayes is always camping around the perimeter, his offensive rebounding is non-existent. However, Hayes does not look like an active participant on the defensive end either. Lastly, Hayes’ face-up defense might be something to look into in the future as he looked slow to move laterally, and he got exposed a few times last week, most notably by Jakarr Sampson who repeatedly took him to the basket with his face-up move.

Misc

As of this writing (Monday evening), we have not heard of Nigel Hayes’ fate for the rest of the season. Whether he’s signed for the rest of the season or not, Hayes should be someone that Toronto should look to bring back to the training camp next year. Now that we all know that the Raptors won’t be bringing Hayes back, I still stand my last statement above.