The Raptors 905 concluded their first road trip of the season the same way they opened their season: with a loss. In fact, the Raptors 905 are winless so far in three games. Talent may be an issue, but having actual bodies definitely is: the team is struggling to dress the minimum number of players per game.
Due to injuries to Serge Ibaka and OG Anunoby, Dewan Hernandez (both games) and Oshae Brissett (vs the Maine Red Claws) were pulled from this road trip to provide some healthy bodies for Nick Nurse during the big club’s West coast road trip.
Even with a winless road trip, the Raptors 905 did not come back empty-handed: These two games against the Red Claws and the Wisconsin Herd showed us even more of what these guys can (or can’t) do.
17 PTS (45%) 4/9 3PM/A (44.4%) 5 REB 5 AST 1 TO
Matt Morgan finally got the chance to showcase his shooting ability by dropping 17 points off the bench, including 4-of-9 from the perimeter. Heck, even his misses looked really good.
Morgan’s -19 for the game against the Red Claws does not reflect his defense; he fought hard to stay with his man, made excellent rotations, the compete level is there.
As I noted last week, Morgan racked up assists without being the primary ball-handler. He followed that up by dishing five assists, again mostly playing off-ball.
17 PPG (44.4%) 2/8 3PM/A (25%) 5.5 REB 10.5 AST 2.5 STL 2.5 TOV -5 +/-
Does your team have enough shooters and/or finishers and is in the market for a back-up point guard? Does it have to be a pass-first point guard that will run the team’s offense and guard his position competently?
If the answer is yes, Tyler Ennis might be worth a look.
Through three games, Ennis has shown that he can score in various ways. He’s got different ways to attack the basket, whether finishing with his strong or his off-hand.
Ennis provides coach Jama Mahlalela a steady floor general: Someone who will run the offense calmly but is also capable of collapsing the defense by attacking the interior while keeping the ball alive and finding seams. As the point guard, Ennis did a great job finding his open teammates, and milking Devin Robinson when he was hot.
Last week, I wrote about Ennis’ high turnover game but attributed it to a lack of familiarity with his teammates. Those numbers went down a bit these past two games, and I expect that to trend positively as that chemistry grows.
Ennis is good at leveraging his body and creating angles to get his shot off. He can also step in for a midrange shot, or go with a floater. He hasn’t yet shown a real “go-to” move where you can say “that’s money,” nor has he shown that he can consistently hit his perimeter shots. While he likes to shoot them off the bounce, his shot looks good on catch-and-shoot situations.
Defensively, Ennis plays scrappy, surprisingly able to stay in front of his man and his active hands either cause deflections or make it a difficult shot for his opponent.
In a way, his play somewhat reminds me of Cory Joseph and Jose Calderon.
34 PPG (51%) 4/15 3PM/A (26.7%) 8.5 REB 4.5 TOV 1.5 STL 2 BLK -7 +/-
Devin Robinson has to be top 10, if not a top five on the G League call-up list. His combination of length, size, quickness, and athleticism and his offensive skills starting to catch up as well, it’s hard not to be intrigued.
Last Friday, Robinson dropped 40 points against the Herd. It’s even worth noting that he had a quiet first quarter, and Mahlalela failed to get him in scoring positions for the most part in the fourth period.
That being said, Robinson’s potential was in full display that night. He scored in a variety of ways: lobs, cuts, drop-offs, PnR, PnP. You name it, most likely he did it that night. The dunks were all nice and good, but the shots that he made that weren’t dunks were more encouraging — especially the perimeter shots.
Unfortunately, he was not able to repeat the same performance against the bigger front line of the Red Claws, where he struggled and his attempts to create his own shots were subpar.
Another issue that seems to be persistent is how carelessly he picks up those offensive fouls, impacting not only his personal fouls per game but his turnover rate as well.
9 PTS (33.3%) 0/4 3PM/A 4 AST 5 STL 1 BLK 1 TO -3 +/-
Shamorie Ponds had a subpar debut, but I thought he had a nice bounce-back game against the Herd. His boxscore wasn’t impressive, but given his situation and the adjustments that he’s made, he’s trending in the right direction.
I dogged Ponds a bit about his defense last week, and while he won’t be a one-on-one defensive stopper any time soon, I thought he brought the defensive intensity that I didn’t know he had in him.
Ponds’s active hands, quick rotations, and excellent ball instinct caused a lot of problems for the Herd. At times, he looked like a hawk that would snatch the ball for a steal out of nowhere.
What’s even more impressive is what he does after getting the steal: Ponds will quickly dump the ball ahead in the transition leading his teammates to an easy fastbreak.
I mean, look at this pass:
Ponds’ game still has flaws. He struggled to be a factor off the ball on a regular half-court set, and his shots are not falling as often as he would like. It’s as if he’s experimenting to see which of his moves will translate to the G League level.
Another thing that’s worth noting is that the game against the Herd allowed Ponds some extended look as the team’s floor general. While it wasn’t a lot, he did look good running the team, and he was able to hit the roll/pop-man and open teammates on the weakside with ease.
As much as I’m looking forward to Ponds’ development, I’m just not sure what the plan here is, as Ennis gets the lion’s share of the ball handling duties. Ponds is thus relegated to off-ball minutes while he competes with the two other point guards in the roster.
16 PTS (33.3%) 3/11 3PM/A (27.2%) 9 REB 6 AST 4 STL 2 TO -5 +/-
Oshae Brissett looked much more comfortable in his second professional game; however, he’s still having issues getting his shots to go in. Maybe Brissett should just keep shooting left-handed inside the arc since both of his field goals inside the arc were lefties?
I will cut Brissett some slack since the presence of Tacko Fall and Yante Maten made scoring in the paint several times harder.
Defensively, while he did a better job guarding his man, his reaction time and decision-making in making defensive rotations need to improve a bit. There were plenty of opportunities for Brissett to generate defensive stops, had he been able to make more timely adjustments.
At least he won a jump ball against Tacko Fall!