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Prospect Report: Reviewing the post-All-Star break action and scouting Wade Baldwin IV

After the All-Star break, the Raptors 905 prospects are back with varying levels of success. Malcolm Miller is struggling, Chris Boucher is adjusting, and Jordan Loyd is on fire. But what about Wade Baldwin IV?

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Prospect Report is back after the G League (and NBA) All-Star Break, and we have quite a few games covered. For this week’s (slightly late!) entry, we’re starting from the loss against the Long Island Nets (February 24, 2019) up to the road loss against the Salt Lake City Stars last Monday (March 4, 2019).

During this stretch, we saw Malcolm Miller struggle offensively, Chris Boucher adjust to the changing Raptors 905 roster, Jordan Loyd step up his game, and Wade Baldwin IV’s first Prospect Report appearance.

Let’s look at how they fared.

Malcolm Miller

10 PPG, 37% FG% (3.3/9), 21.4% 3P% (3/14 3PM/A), 2.7 REB, 2.3 AST, 2 STL, 1.7 TO, +21 +/-

Good

Miller is in the midst of a bad shooting stretch, and if not for his defense, I would not have anything else to put in here. Fortunately for the 905, Miller has been solid defensively. He’s made the right reads, right switches, looking to get a charge, and using his length to contest shots. At best, Miller would have possessions where he would end up shutting down his man, if not blocking them (even an occasional chase down block!).

Bad

When Miller is not hitting his shots from the perimeter, he’s making the right read by getting shots in the paint. However, he’s been missing quite a few point blank range shots.

Whenever his defender would contest his three-point attempt, Miller would counter with a hard fake and a blow-by straight-line drive for a layup. However, that venture was not as successful as I thought it would be.

Misc

Miller made his much-awaited debut for the season against the Boston Celtics. While it’s in garbage time, it’s a milestone for Miller, as he had a rough summer which made the road back to the NBA even harder.

Also, let’s wish Malcolm Miller a happy birthday as he turned 26 today (March 6).

Chris Boucher

22.5 PPG, 45.5% FG% (7.5/16.5), 27.3% 3P% (3/11 3PM/A), 11 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 3.5 BLK, 2.5 TO, +22 +/-

Good

As an excellent G League rim protector, Boucher is almost always there to try to contest the shots around the basket. He’s deceptively quick, and his quick springs and his length enables him to block shots as a help defender, even if it looks like he’s a bit out of position.

We saw Boucher use his great hands to finish in pick-and-roll situations — as long as he’s catching the ball in stride. His long strides enable him to take two steps just inside the three-point line and easily dunk the ball.

Bad

The opposing teams are starting to crowd Boucher’s rolls to the basket, and he’s having a hard time doing anything productive after the catch. His offensive skills are not refined enough to make a move against multiple defenders in the paint, and the physicality of bigger defenders is bothering him. The lack of touches seems to make Boucher force a shot when a kick out would be a better counter.

Now that Boucher’s post-ups/rolls/lobs are catching the attention of the opposing teams, Boucher’s next step would be reading the defense and making the appropriate pass. It’s not a leap to suggest that when he’s being double/triple-teamed in the paint, someone has to be wide open around the perimeter.

Misc

With a stacked roster, it looks like the “give the ball to Boucher and let him cook” play call won’t be used as often as it used to be. Boucher needs to be a factor without the ball, and coach Jama Mahlalela needs to ensure that Boucher doesn’t feel left out and go cold from the field.

Jordan Loyd

26.2 PPG, 50.6% FG% (8.4/16.6), 41.9% 3P% (13/31 3PM/A), 4.6 REB, 6.8 AST, 2.8 STL, 2.6 TO, +38 +/-

Good

Good Loyd, as 905 commentator Gareth Wheeler calls him, is clutch, and will take over the game if the team needs him. If you read further below, I’m nitpicking on his slow starts and his streakiness. I thought he could’ve done better, but then he’s already dropping at least 26 points during this stretch!

Loyd is finally back on track with his perimeter shooting, as he’s hitting almost 42% (13-of-31 3PM/A) during this stretch, compared to just around 10.5% from his previous four games (2-of-13 3PM/A).

Best of all, with Baldwin’s arrival, Loyd did not take a step back. Instead, Loyd upped his play and adjusted well enough that the two are interchangeable between PG/SG depending on what the play call is.

Bad

Loyd can go 0-for-13 from the perimeter in one game, or he can miss 13 straight perimeter shots across three games, yet you’ll see him get hot and hit his next five, if not 4 of 5. I don’t know how Loyd can fix this, but at times, there seems to be some hesitation on some of his shots, so maybe he can start with that.

Misc

With all the new faces and a lot of people needing their touches, Loyd looks like he’s deferring too much to start the games and letting his teammates get going. Sure, he’s racking up some assists early on, however, it looks like it messes his rhythm a little bit, and contributes to his slow starts. Loyd needs to find a good balance of distributing the ball and getting a few shots every now and then.

Wade Baldwin IV

25.7 PPG, 49.2% FG% (10.7/21.7), X% 3P% (8/19 3PM/A), 5 REB, 3.7 AST, 0.7 STL, 3.3 TO, +16 +/-

Bust? Terrible attitude? Immature?

These are the things that would pop up when one would search whatever happened to Wade Baldwin IV with the Memphis Grizzlies. To be honest, as much as I enjoy watching basketball, the Grizzlies were just not a League Pass team to me. The last time I really paid attention to Baldwin was during the draft, when I, like the rest of the Raptors fans were scrambling to determine who the Raptors should take with their ninth pick in the 2016 Draft. (Baldwin ended up going 17th to the Grizz.)

Watching Baldwin’s highlights back then, my impression was “damn, this guy’s a Westbrook starter pack.” The length, size, and his downhill attacks reminded me of a young Westbrook. Including the recklessness.

Fast forward to this season, Baldwin found himself with the Portland Trailblazers. Unfortunately for him, the Blazers had a thousand other guards in their lineup, and they also drafted another guard during the draft (Gary Trent Jr). After playing musical chair during the trade deadline, Baldwin found himself a free agent with no takers, decided to enter the G League, and the Raptors 905 took him immediately.

Here’s our Prospect Report scouting report on Baldwin.

Good

Baldwin is a good downhill scorer, especially with a head of steam and in the open court. He’s capable of finishing high-degree of difficulty shots with either hand as long as he’s in control. It’s almost as if he was watching Russell Westbrook’s tapes, as Baldwin’s got a similar move where he would turn the corner for a pull-up mid-range jumper that he likes a lot.

When engaged, Baldwin is capable of using his rare combination of quickness, length, and strength to be a borderline lockdown defender.

Bad

At the NBA level, point guards need at least two of the following to survive:

  • Passing/court vision
  • Decision making
  • Perimeter shooting

Sadly, those are his exact apparent weaknesses, which have combined to lead Baldwin to his current situation.

*********

Four games in — I know it’s small sample base — but I’m quite pleased with Baldwin’s play so far for the 905. Contrary to his “reckless” reputation, Baldwin has been playing pretty much in control for the most part. It looks like he’s found that middle gear that he can get in and out so that he can explode to his top gear.

Baldwin’s shooting appears to be better than advertised. His mid-range looks good, and he is shooting at a high clip from the perimeter. It also looks like Baldwin made a few tweaks to his shot mechanics (compared to his highlights from the past two years):

  • On his mid-range jump shot, he is jumping higher and more explosive (his mid-range used to look like Malcolm Brogdon’s);
  • On his three-point shot, while it’s still a set shot, his release looks faster, and he’s not shooting them almost flat-footed.

We have also seen some glimpses of bad decision making, which contributed to Baldwin’s turnovers and bad misses. Defensively, he hasn’t stood out yet. Our ‘Sauga boy Naz Mitrou-Long torched Baldwin and pretty much every guard that Jama used against him, but for someone who has an upside of 3+D, Baldwin should have been able to use his 6’4” frame and 6’11” wingspan to contain Naz.

With only a month left to the season, we’ll be keeping an eye on Baldwin as an honorary prospect. In the meantime, enjoy this highlight package from the Raptors 905 vs Washington Go-Go’s.