The NBA G League got started last week and, with it, another opportunity for us to start looking at the pipeline for Toronto Raptors talent. Time for another 905 season and another weekly rundown of what happened in Mississauga.
Seeing the output side of 905 talent continuing to succeed, it creates a lot of optimism for the current crop of players. The obvious and most recent example here is Chris Boucher, who earned league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honours in 2018-19, and is now showing himself to be a reliable rotation player (albeit over three games) with the Raptors.
This season, as HQ writer JD Quirante puts it in his Prospect Report, the guys we have our eyes on are the two-way players: second round draft pick Dewan Hernandez, Canadian native Oshae Brissett, and St. John’s University product Shamorie Ponds. There’s also the affiliates, who are closer to getting called up than previously thought possible given the injury state of the Raptors right now. Those are Matt Morgan, Tyler Ennis, and Devin Robinson.
As usual, it’s refreshing to see Canadian talent represented on the 905. Beyond Brissett and Ennis, Duane Notice also returns to the 905 to bring his shooting stroke and two-way play. But can the G League team reach the heights that Boucher and Jordan Loyd brought them to in 2018-19? Let’s look back at the first game to get a clue.
Friday, November 8 vs. Grand Rapids Drive
The Raptors opened their season at home with a 15-point loss to the Grand Rapids Drive (streamed on Twitch, how 2019!) The game had it all, with the Larry O’Brien trophy making an appearance and a decent weekend crowd to boot at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre.
The whole crew was present for this game (Brissett and Hernandez would later get a call-up because of injuries to OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka), but were beat by a balanced scoring attack from Grand Rapids. Six players scored in double digits as the Drive won the first three quarters and finished the first half on a 12-0 run on their way to the win. Leading the way was Pe’Shon Howard off the bench, who dropped 17 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists on just nine shots. Undrafted San Diego State product Dakarai Allen had 16 points in support.
Still, for the inexperienced 905, there was stuff to feel good about. Dewan Hernandez led all scorers with 24 points, ten rebounds, and three assists, showing a bit of range with 2-for-4 three point shooting but mostly getting his work done with rangy athleticism in the paint. He even showed some passing flashes and off-the-dribble play, which would be excellent if allowed to develop in the G League.
Hernandez is a bit bigger than the prototypical Raptors power forward, but was pegged in the draft because of his explosive leaping ability — and they got him late because of a name change and a year away from basketball.
Right now, Hernandez will likely be up and down because of the injuries to the Raptors, but a significant stretch with the 905 would be helpful for us to get more of an idea of the player he can become.
Elsewhere, Tyler Ennis scored 15 points, but shot just 3-for-8 from three and had six turnovers — still working his way back cardio-wise after breaking his tibia just over a year ago while in the EuroLeague. Oshae Brissett was similarly inefficient with 14 points on 3-for-10 shooting. It was poor shooting overall that sunk the 905 in this one, as they shot just 38% from the field and 28% from three, while giving up a 51/43/63 line to the visiting Drive.
The other game scheduled for this week was against the Westchester Knicks on Saturday, but because of court conditions in White Plains, New York, the game was postponed until further notice.
Now, the life of the G Leaguer means six(!!) full days off before the 905’s next game, as they take on the Wisconsin Herd on the road tomorrow night.