Ronald Roberts’ exceptional play with Raptors 905 hasn’t earned him a call-up to the NBA quiet yet, but it did earn him yet another opportunity to show out on a major stage.
The D-League’s No. 1 ranked prospect was named to the D-League All-Star Game on Friday.
Teams are voted on by the D-League coaches. The game will pit 24 of the D-League’s best against each other on Saturday, February 13, at Ricoh Coliseum as part of NBA All-Star Weekend. Among those included are eight current NBA players and plenty of other names you’ll surely recognize.
Roberts currently ranks 16th in the league in scoring at 18.8 points per-game, shooting a higher percentage from the floor (60.9) than anyone in the top-50. He also ranked second in rebounding at 12.4 per-game and 10th in blocks with 1.6 a night. What’s more, the 10-18 905 have outscored opponents by 18.3 points per-100 possessions when Roberts is on the court, a far cry from their -3.3 mark overall. If advanced metrics are more your thing, Roberts ranks seventh in the league in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), providing an estimated 4.9 wins despite missing six of the team’s 28 games.
Roberts also had the numbers for All-Star inclusion a season ago but had left the D-League to play in the Philippines at that point, precluding him from being a two-time All-Star. This time around, he’s spurned a lucrative overture from one of the top European teams, Maccabi Tel Aviv, in order to keep “a foot and a half” in the door of the NBA. Things can change in two weeks, of course.
To be blunt, it remains a surprise every time Roberts takes the floor for the 905. He entered the season a likely call-up and I wrote ahead of the Showcase that it seemed unlikely he’d return from Santa Cruz with the team. I ranked Roberts as the third most-likely call-up following the D-League Showcase earlier this month, and both the names ahead of him (Sean Kilpatrick and Erick Green) have since gotten the call.
The NBA’s cut week cast some misfortune on him, as few teams who wound up with a roster spot are in need of a big, but there could still be plenty of roster churn ahead of the Feb. 18 trade deadline. The Raptors could theoretically still add him, too, if they opted to cut Anthony Bennett and make him an in-season D-League affiliate player once he cleared waivers or if they make a multi-player trade that opens up a roster spot for a frontcourt player. He can offer high-end rebounding, energy, and athleticism, with solid man- or help-defense, and he’s long and strong enough to guard either inside position despite standing 6-foot-7 without shoes.
The All-Star Game will be just another chance for him to put everything he can do on display.
The event begins at 1:30 p.m. and also includes a 3-point shootout and slam, dunk contest, but sadly, Roberts continues to insist he won’t dunk despite the best efforts of Raptors Republic to get him to change his mind. He told himself after participating in a college dunk contest that the next one he does will be the NBA version, a disappointment for D-League fans given Roberts’ ridiculous athleticism. The All-Star Game, which is sure to include a few Roberts lobs, will have to suffice.
There’s no word if any other 905ers will be participating, but Axel Toupane and Michale Kyser would be interesting dunk contest participants. Scott Suggs will participate in the 3-point shootout, according to Raptors 905 play-by-play commentator extraordinaire Meghan McPeak.