In one sense, there was an abrupt end to the Raptors 905 season. They lost 2-0 in the G League Final and — poof — that was it. But in another sense, the 905 put together an amazingly long run, one that was perhaps unexpected given roster turnover.
Here’s one final look back at the post-season run for the 905ers best, the crew who crossed over into the NBA for stretches this season. It’s the last Prospect Report of 2017-18:
8.4 PPG 13-34 FG (38%), 27% 3FG (7-26), 3.8 REB, 0.4 AST, 1.4 STL, 0.8 BLK, 1 TO, +6 +/-
Malcolm Miller went cold from the perimeter, but he showed that he’s not just a one-trick pony.
Malcolm Miller had his prints (or paws) the entire post-season run, showing real promise that he can fulfill the “D” part of a “3+D” label.
As a face-up defender, Miller did a great job staying in front of his man, putting up a hand contesting perimeter shots, and holding his own when posted up by bigger and stronger small/power forwards.
I enjoyed watching Miller shut down Luke “Uni-kornet” Kornet the entire game against the Westchester Knicks. Miller held Kornet scoreless and made life difficult for him to shoot over the top of his length. It was a somewhat close game, and I thought that Miller was the unsung hero of the contest because of his defense.
It was a little bit frustrating to watch Miller go through his shooting slump in the post-season. Yes, he was missing clean open looks from the perimeter, but he was not helping himself by not finding other ways to score (the cuts and back-cuts were there), or by camping in one spot and waiting for the ball instead of moving to a better spot on the perimeter.
I know that Miller is trying to be a good team player and all, but it’s more frustrating to see Kennedy Meeks and Fuquan Edwin jack up 3s without conscience. With the current roster makeup, I really wanted Miller to be a bit more selfish and look for his shot more, instead of deferring too much. Maybe he’s too deferential or doesn’t want to force things too much, but Miller should have a green light to create his own (3-point) shot — unless this is something that he’s not comfortable with right now.
Miller is a low turnover player, but the majority of his turnovers came from his lack of explosiveness/quick first step in his attempts to drive to the basket, which resulted in turnovers.
Defensively, the only thing to nitpick here is that sometimes Miller gets caught in an off-ball screen action, and will be a step too late to get in a decent defensive position. Against the Austin Spurs in the Finals, this happened a few times, allowing bigger players catch the ball under the basket, which is always a problem for any defender.
It’s a shame that Miller did not get the last roster spot. However, depending on what happens this off-season, we may see Masai Ujiri either extend a qualifying offer (another two-way contract) or maybe even see him compete and earn a roster spot.
8.4 PPG 17-46 FG (37%), 12% 3FG (2-17), 7 REB, 0.4 AST, 0.8 STL, 1 BLK, 1.2 TO, -18 +/-
Alfonzo McKinnie’s shot abandoned him, but he was all over the place with his defense and hustle in the playoffs.
Nobody wants it more than Alfonzo McKinnie, and nobody played harder than him in the entire postseason. McKinnie was fighting for every loose ball available, battling taller and bigger players, and sometimes getting the rebound over three defenders.
McKinnie is quick at rotating on defense. He sprints hard to rotate to the next man, especially when he’s under the basket running towards the perimeter, or vice versa.
McKinnie runs hard in transition, and it’s a shame that he only got two alley-oop dunks in transition in the postseason. What’s great to see is that McKinnie runs just as hard in transition even when Lorenzo Brown is leading the fastbreak. (Brown is less likely to pass on a fastbreak).
McKinnie went on to miss his last ten 3-point attempts in the postseason and was horrible from the perimeter (2-of-17, 12 percent from deep) overall.
McKinnie’s lack of success on the perimeter impacted what he can do offensively. His defenders played him for the drive, making it tougher for him to do something other than his floater. McKinnie’s confidence to shoot the three also took a hit, and his hesitation cost him a few turnovers or killed the possession.
Most Raptors fans who are not following the G-League would look at Alfonzo McKinnie’s stats and be spooked by his below average production and poor shooting, which is fair. He brings a lot to the table defensively that could not be justified by the box score. McKinnie does need to put in the work this off-season to work on his offensive game, but I also believe that he’s a decent “corner 3” skill set away from having staying power in the NBA.
20 PPG 39-95 FG (41%), 33% 3FG (8-24), 5.2 REB, 8 AST, 0.4 STL, 0.6 BLK, 3.2 TO, -29 +/-
The 905 often went as far as G League MVP Lorenzo Brown could take them. Unfortunately, a Brown-centric offense came up short in the Finals.
Lorenzo Brown provided the scoring punch and was the engine of Stackhouse’s offensive system. Once he gets into his rhythm, Brown is deadly with a live dribble inside the arc. His mid-range game, and ability to sneak in a lay-up is at an NBA-level.
What makes Brown even more dangerous is that he knows exactly where and when Kennedy Meeks will be when they execute their pick-and-roll play. Their chemistry makes you wonder if they’ve been playing together for years. If Meeks could finish over bigger and longer defenders, Brown could get even more assists per game.
Brown struggled to get the offense going in the playoffs, as he was getting hedged/trapped from the get-go. When he’s in a scoring position, the opposing team is packing it in the paint to make it difficult for Brown to get a good shot. Brown’s overall performance in the Finals is a compilation package of everything that’s bad about his game.
Brown struggled with the physicality of bigger and stronger defenders and had no counter to offer. He was either turning the ball over or killing the possession by overdribbling, trying to make something out of nothing.
Lastly, as a point guard, Brown struggled to get his teammates going, or at least get them involved from time to time. There are other good players on the roster, and seeing someone like Malcolm Miller not get a shot for eight straight minutes isn’t great.
Brown’s two-way contract got converted into the 15th roster spot on the Raptors, and this move makes him eligible for the playoffs. We don’t know what’s happening with Fred VanVleet, though I hope he’s at 100 percent starting in Game 1. Still, if we are to see Brown get some minutes, he needs to be aggressive on the offensive end, just like how he is in the G League. Brown’s offensive aggressiveness can be a good complement playing alongside Delon Wright.
9.4 PPG 14-35 FG (40%), 38% 3FG (6-16), 1.4 REB, 0.8 AST, 0.4 STL, 0.2 BLK, 1 TO, +14 +/-
Malachi Richardson showed some pulse as he provided scoring punch coming off the bench in the post-season. Sadly, like much of the 905, his season ended with a dud performance.
Malachi Richardson’s postseason production was a surprise development, and against the Grand Rapids and Westchester Knicks, he was arguably the second-best player offensively.
Unlike McKinnie and Miller, Malachi found his stroke, and provided some scoring punch off the bench while the starters rested. His production was impressive as coach Jerry Stackhouse was playing Malachi with mostly bench players, allowing him more opportunities to score.
Malachi’s jumper looked solid, and he looked comfortable creating his own 3-point shot via “jab-step+hard dribble+step-back” or “jab-step+between-the-legs dribble+step-back.”
Offensively, I’m convinced that Malachi’s got above average basketball IQ, as he’s good at facilitating, knowing where and when to swing the ball to the right person, and making better decisions as to creating his own three-point shot. Malachi also demonstrated a good recognition when his shot was taken away, trying to counter by driving hard to the basket. This last bit is a weak aspect of his game right now, but he’s getting better at drawing contact.
Malachi started off the postseason with three straight games where he’s not a liability on defense and was rewarded by getting a chance to finish the game against the Westchester Knicks. Stackhouse also sprinkled in a few zone defense schemes here and there especially with the second unit, and Malachi looked comfortable in this role.
Malachi knows that his playing time depends on how he plays on the defensive end, and in the Finals against the Austin Spurs, Richardson repeatedly lost his man, and it led to wide-open 3s. The Austin Spurs took full advantage of Malachi’s defense — Hanlan Olivier attacked him right away as soon as Richardson checked in, coughing up a three-pointer. It got so bad in Game 2, Richardson earned the quick hook after surrendering almost back-to-back-to-back threes to Jeff Ledbetter.
Malachi’s Game 2 is arguably his worst game this year. The Austin Spurs made him unplayable, as Stackhouse had to give Negus Webster-Chan (who was out of the rotation in the playoffs) his second half minutes. Richardson only played nine minutes, but he was -18 during this stretch.