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Prospect Report: The 2019-20 Raptors 905 season preview

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Coach Jama Mahlalela and the Raptors 905 are back with an entirely new team, including new prospects and intriguing affiliate names, for the 2019-20 G League season.

2019 Las Vegas Summer League - San Antonio Spurs v Toronto Raptors Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The Raptors 905 are back with new prospects Oshae Brissett, a local talent on a two-way deal, Shamorie Ponds, also on a two-way deal, and Dewan Hernandez, Toronto’s 59th pick, as the face of the team. Coach Jama Mahlalela and the 905 front office face a tough task in rebuilding the team in such a short turnaround time with the development of those three in mind, while potentially shoring up the mother club’s bench with affiliate prospects that will also be playing in Mississauga.

Duane Notice is the only holdover from the team that lost to the eventual G League champs (Long Island Nets) in the playoffs. If you’re curious as to “whatever happened to...” for the rest of the players on that roster:

  • Jordan Loyd, the “Random Guy in a Suit” is in Spain and now plays for Valencia;
  • Kyle Collinsworth and Rodney Pryor were traded to Salt Lake City;
  • Deng Adel’s rights were traded to Long Island Nets (the 905 retained his rights even though the Cavs called him up mid-season last year);
  • Josh Adams is also in Spain playing for Unicaja;
  • Derek Cooke Jr is in Italy playing for Pallacanestro Trieste;
  • MiKyle McIntosh is now in Belgium playing for Oostende;
  • Wade Baldwin IV is in Greece playing for Olympiakos; and
  • Jordan Howard is playing for Goyang Orions in South Korea.

Malcolm Miller and Chris Boucher both made the main club’s roster this season. Given where they are at the stage of their career, it doesn’t make sense for them to spend as much (or any) time in Mississauga, but we’ll see how it shakes out.

Here’s a summary of the Raptors 905 we’ll be looking at on-and-off throughout the year in advance of their second preseason game tonight. Remember, the start of the new 905 season is on November 8th. And as per usual, the Propsect Report will be coming to you every Tuesday.

Affiliates

Tyler Ennis, PG

Here’s a former prospect that’s always been on the Raptors’ radar since he entered the draft. Tyler Ennis was at the top of the Raptors draft board at #20 back in 2014 — as the team needed insurance in case Kyle Lowry walked in free agency. Instead, because the Phoenix Suns literally had a goat in their office, they selected Tyler Ennis to be their fourth point guard on a team where all three starter-level point guards were whining for minutes.

Ennis comes in with the most NBA experience in this group with four seasons under his belt. But it was a whirlwind four years, as he did not get the proper environment and stability to develop into a capable NBA player.

His last stop with the Lakers was the only time he looked like he belonged, averaging a career-high 7.7 points and 2.4 assists, while shooting 39 percent from the perimeter. Unfortunately, Ennis was not able to take advantage of being the backup point guard for the Lakers the following year. In the end, he was collateral damage during the offseason as the Lakers shed as much salary as possible to get LeBron James.

Ennis is only 25 years old. Still, he’s coming back from a horrific injury that he sustained last year in Turkey early on during his tenure there. It’s a long road back for Ennis; not only does he need to recover from a significant injury, but he also has to improve his game to be better than what he was when he was still in the league. Luckily for Ennis, he doesn’t have to go too far travelling from Brampton to Mississauga.

Sagaba Konate, C

Probably one of the most intriguing prospects on this team, Sabaga Konate comes in with a more than NBA-ready body, athleticism, motor, and a budding offensive game. Konate plays bigger than his height, as he measured in at 6’6” without shoes, a 7’ wingspan, and 246lbs of pure muscle.

Konate played centre for WVU Mountaineers, and he was their star player before going down for the season due to issues stemming from knee surgery that he underwent in the offseason. Before that, he was one of the nation’s best highlight reel-ready shot-blockers. Konate increased his offensive production each year with the Mountaineers and started to expand his range to the three-point line during his abrupt sophomore season.

While he’s already 22 years old, Konate was already playing at a high level in college despite only picking up the sport five years ago. Unfortunately, Konate went down with a foot injury while getting ready for the Raptors 905 training camp. Hopefully we’ll see him later in the season (much like Malcolm Miller last year).

With Konate out, the Raptors 905 are down to Dewan Hernandez as the only legit C on the roster. If the team does not pick up another big, that could indicate that Konate might be coming back sooner rather than later.

Matt Morgan, PG

Matt Morgan was a fringe second-round prospect in this past year’s draft, and while he was heralded as one of the best pure shooters in this class, his name was not one of the names that were called during draft night.

Morgan pretty much played as the team’s shooting guard/scorer at Cornell, a high volume three-point shooter (almost eight attempts per game). As a senior, he shot them at a high rate (43 percent). Morgan is quick and sneakily athletic, which allows him to get to his spots and get his shots faster than his defender can react. Watching Morgan’s videos in college, he has a picture-perfect shooting stroke that he can shoot just as well on the hop or with 1-2 steps. His range, well, his range can go well beyond the NBA three-point line.

It seems likely that the reason why Morgan was not drafted was his size. He’s listed as 6’2” and 180lbs. His slight frame makes him look even smaller than let’s say Jevon “Baby Vince” Carter even though they’re comparable in height.

Too small for a shooting guard, and not quite a point guard, Morgan would have to go through the minors to reinvent his game and prove that he can play as a combo guard in the big league.

Devin Robinson, F

I saw a few Capital City GoGo’s games last year and I have to say, Devin Robinson’s got some mad hops. He’s an active body — he can explode to the cup as a slasher, and also catch lobs no matter how bad the pass for an alley-oop dunk.

Robinson was with the Washington Wizards for two years as a two-way player. Unfortunately for him, the Wizards did not have much of a developmental plan for the likes of him, as the team was blinded by the chance of competing for a playoff spot. Even last year, when the Wizards failed to tank or win, Robinson barely got any run.

Last year, Robinson led the Wizards in scoring in the Summer League. From there, he was one of the key guys for the Capital City GoGo’s inaugural season, where he showed growth in his game, averaging a near 20-8 a game.

With the Wizards rebuilding this year, Robinson could have be someone to benefit from the minutes that would open up as they begin their youth movement. I was surprised to see him with the Raptors this summer. After a closer look, the Wizards moved on from him following an altercation with a Philadelphia Eagles player.

Hopefully, a new and stable environment can provide Robinson with the chance to develop as a 3+D player in Mississauga.

The Two-Way Players

Shamorie Ponds, PG

Shamorie Ponds is a lefty point guard that can score from anywhere. He’s got legit NBA three-point range, and he can shoot them via jab steps and step-backs a la James Harden (a regular step-back, not the absurd Harden one), who he got to watch up close and personal recently as a member of the Rockets.

Ponds remains a score-first point guard because his teams have needed him to put up a lot of points on the board, but he’s a crafty playmaker. It should be interesting to see if Ponds can develop his passing/playmaking to be at an NBA level.

Another area of development we should be looking at for Ponds is how he can score off the ball. As someone who spent most of his time playing with the ball in his hands, Ponds didn’t quite develop this aspect of his game — cutting, off-ball movement, etc. If you look up his highlights, the majority of his perimeter shots were not in a catch-and-shoot situation. Obviously, for Ponds to make it in the NBA, he’ll have to develop a more well-rounded offensive game — he won’t be the guy with the ball in his hands in Toronto.

Oshae Brissett, F

Oshae Brissett, a Mississauga native, played collegiate-level ball for Jim Boeheim and Syracuse University. He was measured at the NBA combine at 6’7” without shoes, with a 7’ wingspan. In comparison, Jordan Bell and Devin Robinson came in very close in terms of height and wingspan.

Brissett’s combination of length-size-athleticism is intriguing. He will most likely be developed as a combo wing that can project as a 3+D switchable defender. From the looks of it, his shooting should get better, as he’s got good shooting mechanics.

Much like Hernandez, there’s a lot of room for improvement with Brissett offensively. Aside from his shooting, his handle is suspect, along with his decision making and shot selection. One of Brissett’s knocks out of college was also his ability to finish around the basket, so we’ll keep an eye on that as well since there will be bigger and stronger athletes around the paint. With the 905, we’ll get to see what kind of moves he’s got in the toolbox in a late-game situation.

Brissett’s board activity — combining his athleticism, bounce, motor, energy, and nose for the ball — reminds me of a bigger version of Alfonzo McKinnie. Given the 905’s roster construction, expect Oshae to play as an interchangeable SF/PF on the team to offset their lack of size down low.

Assignees

Before Patrick McCaw’s injury news, I pencilled in Terence Davis II and Matt Thomas to get some reps in Mississauga every now and then. Now the Raptors will likely need both of them to eat some of Toronto’s bench minutes.

Setting injuries aside, Davis’ path to consistent minutes with the Raptors will come through being a decent ball-handler, and there’s no better way to “lab” that against inferior competition. With Thomas, it’s for him to keep piling up quality NBA-like minutes to catch up with the NBA game — from the speed, athleticism, defense, and size perspective. Competitive G League games would be much better than some random garbage time minutes.

Dewan Hernandez, PF/C

Due to the logjam at the PF/C position for the Raptors, and Dewan Hernandez’ needing the outlet to develop and work on his game, we’ll most likely see him with the 905 for most of the year.

Much like Thomas, I’d like to see Hernandez accumulate as much experience as possible playing high-level(-ish) basketball, rather than riding the bench. Also, the farm team should give him the outlet to develop any skills that he’s working on, even stuff he won’t get a chance to use early on at the NBA level should he get there.

Hernandez’ floor is slated as a high-motor energy guy, but he has the potential to be a more skilled player. I seem to recall the Raptors sending an energy big guy to Mississauga a few years back, and just a few weeks ago he got the max.

While Dewan’s build (6’9” without shoes + 7’1.75” wingspan) is similar to that of Marquese Chriss, his body frame, motor, and base skill-set makes him look closer to a PF than a C. However, given Toronto’s roster right now, and the direction the NBA continues to head, all indications point towards Hernandez playing the C position with the 905.