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Dial 905: Getting Ready for the New Season

The 2021-2022 G League season is just around the corner, and the Raptors 905 are making moves!

Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The 2021-2022 G League season is just around the corner, and the Raptors 905 are making moves!

With the new season fast approaching, the Raptors 905 and 2021 NBA G League executive of the year Chad Saunders have been making moves to reshape their roster.

Coaching Moves

Raptors assistant coach Patrick Mutombo will be back for his second stint as a Raptors 905 head coach. Assistant coaches Arsalan Jamil and John Bennett are back to assist Mutombo. New faces join the Raptors 905 coaching staff in Travon Bryant, Chris Thomas, Ashton Smith, and Alex Beene.

Beene is an analytics guy who had stops with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, and Sacramento Kings before becoming the Director of Analytics with the Memphis Tigers.

Thomas’ passport has plenty of stamps, as he’s had coaching tenure globally. He’s coached in the Slovenian Basketball League, ASEAN Basketball League, NBL of China, B League Japan, BSN Puerto Rico, and even here in Canada, where he coached the Orangeville A’s in the NBL of Canada.

Canadian Smith will be returning to the Raptors 905, only this time as an assistant coach. Smith played for the Raptors 905’s inaugural season. He’s had stops in Columbia, Germany, Indonesia, the G League, and the NBL of Canada before a torn ACL cut his career short. Smith then joined the Hamilton Honey Badgers’ coaching staff as a player development coach last season. However, he’s been an active player development coach at the grassroots level.

Roster Moves

There’s no better indicator that a prospect is G-League bound than being featured on the affiliate team’s season schedule calendar. David Johnson and Justin Champagnie are both on the Raptors 905’s calendar, so expect both two-way contract players to be their featured players this season.

Who’s Out?

The G League is a revolving door, and it’s rare for players to stick around; they either get picked up by an NBA team or get paid handsomely to play overseas. Below are the players that were on the Raptors 905 Gubble roster and won’t be returning:

  • Matt Mooney, PG: The Raptors 905 traded Mooney to Capitanes, Mexico’s first G League team.
  • Matt Morgan, PG: Overseas
  • Tres Tinkle, F: Overseas
  • Gary Payton II, G: Golden State Warriors
  • Jalen Harris, SG: Overseas
  • Henry Ellenson, PF/C: Overseas
  • Rawle Alkins, G: Overseas
  • Jarron Cumberland, G: Overseas

Training Camp Roster - Who’s In for now?

The G League roster construct is weird. The high-profile players come from the assignees (i.e. Bruno Caboclo) and two-way contract players (David Johnson and Justin Champagnie this season). Then the team can have up to four affiliate players. These are the players that would get waived by the end of training camp. The team doesn’t have their NBA rights, but playing for the affiliate team gets them a significant pay bump compared to a standard G League contract. The rest of the roster would be rounded up by returning players, local tryout players, and the G League draft picks.

Returning Players

Ole Miss PG Breein Tyree is still recovering from his ACL injury that he suffered in the Gubble, but it looks like he’ll be back with the Raptors 905 this season. Kevon Harris played sparingly on the shortened G League season, should provide depth at the SF/PF spot.

  • Breein Tyree, PG (Ole Miss)
  • Kevon Harris, G/F (SFA)
  • Jawun Evans, PG (Oklahoma State/Promitheas Patras)

Affiliate Players

Ashton Hagans missed the Raptors’ Summer League campaign due to an injury, but it looks like the Raptors are intrigued with his skill set, that they decided to have a longer look. Alex Antetokounmpo is the Raptors 905’s Bruno project, and Josh Hall and Reggie Perry should have the lionshare of front court minutes this season.

  • Alex Antetokounmpo, SF (ACB)
  • Ashton Hagans, PG (Duke)
  • Josh Hall, SF (Oklahoma City)
  • Reggie Perry, PF (Mississippi State/Raptors)

Trades

GM Chad Sanders made some moves heading into the draft day, and he acquired Andrew Rowsey from the Lakeland Magic, and Romaro Gill from the Salt Lake City Stars. Gill is not on the training camp roster.

  • Andrew Rowsey, PG (Marquette/Lakeland Magic): Rowsey won the G League bubble chip with the Lakeland Magic. The 5’11” guard was part of the Raptors’ Las Vegas Summer League team in 2018.

Open Tryouts

The Raptors 905 also held their open tryouts, and they will be bringing Zena Edosomwan, Akia Pruitt, and Obadiah Noel to the camp. Edosomwan last played for Gigantes in Mexico before Covid halted everything last year. Pruitt and Noel add depth, scoring, and size at the wings and should make an interesting training camp battle.

  • Zena Edosomwan, PF (Harvard / Gigantes)
  • Akia Priutt , F (UNC-Pembroke)
  • Obadiah Noel, G (UMass Lowell)

Draft

The Raptors 905 went scoring-heavy on their draft selections this year. That Eaddy and Blake Francis will have a tall hill to climb with the potential PG depth on the team. Meanwhile, Tristan Jarrett is a lights-out shooter that’s got an unlimited range. While G League draft picks are a long shot at making the team, my money is on Jarrett if his shooting is as advertised and his defense is good enough for coach Mutombo.

Tahj Eaddy, G (USC); 2nd Round, 5th pick

Eaddy is a 6’2” combo guard that can really hit it from the perimeter. He went undrafted in this year’s NBA draft and was on Orlando Magic’s Summer League roster.

Blake Francis, PG (Richmond); 2nd Round, 15th pick

Francis is a 6’0” PG who went undrafted last season. He was on the Detroit Pistons’ Summer League roster. He’s an undersized lefty score-first PG in the mould of Isaiah Thomas and Raptors 905 legend Shamorie Ponds.

Tristan Jarrett, SG (Jackson State); 3rd Round, 7th pick

Jarrett is a 6’4” SG from Jackson State, where he recently won the SWAC Player of the Year award before turning pro. He’s got range — if you want him to pull up from the logo, he’ll do it gladly.

Outlook

Last season, coach Mutombo had a veteran squad. This time, he’ll have perhaps the youngest and least experienced team the Raptors 905 have had, with many 20-21-year-olds poised to soak up most of the rotation minutes. It remains to be seen whether Malachi Flynn or Dalano Banton will get assigned to Mississauga. Flynn’s been out of the rotation despite the struggles of Goran Dragic and Svi Mykhailiuk, and Banton is just right outside of Nurse’s rotation.

Much like the mother team, this roster is expected to play “small/long ball,” as there’s no natural centre on the team. Reggie Perry should be the starting centre, and from there, it’ll be a platoon of long wings at the frontcourt rotation. The Raptors 905 are bringing in five PGs on top of David Johnson and one of Flynn/Banton getting assigned. Expect the training camp battle to resolve the PG situation. They went through this exercise a couple of years ago, where they had several small PGs that couldn’t be on the court at the same time.

Coach Mutombo wants to win, but this group’s inexperience and roster imbalance might present a lot of growing pains. However, last season’s roster didn’t look great either (older, less athletic), yet they got deep in the playoffs. Last season also might have given us a blueprint on how Scottie Barnes can be utilized, as the Raptors 905 leaned on Alize Johnson to play point-forward (or point centre?!), and generated offense through the chaos that a player of that size and skill can bring over a structured offense.

The Raptors 905 will begin their season on November 11th when they host the Westchester Knicks at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre. We will be doing game recaps via Dial 905, and covering the NBA assignees/Two-Way Contract players via Raptors Prospect Report, so stay tuned.