The Toronto Raptors are holding a two-day, 24-player free agent mini-camp at BioSteel Centre this week, casting a wide net in their continued search for information, diamonds in the rough, or organizational depth. Like with the pre-draft workouts, these may or may not materialize in meaningful roster action, but it never hurts to check in on the development of intriguing young players and learn more about them in the process.
On Day Two, the third practice session over the two days, the Raptors ditched most instructional pretence and just rolled
“What’s crazy is we have just a 10-minute practice,” Gabe York explained. “It’s 10 minutes and you go over four or five plays, and the rest is just playing basketball. You play four to five 10-minute games and you just try to win those games. I think we ended up 4-6, so we didn’t make it. You know how to play basketball, you know how to play the game, so they put you out there and they wanna see how well you can do after 10 minutes of skill and instruction.”
With three sessions crammed in and prior knowledge of each of the players, the Raptors feel fairly comfortable that the mini-camp has served its purpose. With a Summer League roster to fill out, potential camp invites to issue, and two-way contracts to dangle, there’s some growing clarity in terms of how the lower-end moves of the offseason could play out from here.
“I think so,” Raptors director of player personnel Dan Tolzman said. “I think it will be this matched with, depending on how slides through the draft undrafted, free agent sort of stuff. There’s a lot of guys – I told the group afterwards there was too much talent. It’s going to be hard decision to pare it down and pick some guys. Same position and equal talent it’s going to come down to as a group we will sit and kick and the names around and see where we go from there. But it was really impressive collection of talent here.”
There may not be any immediate news from here. The Summer League roster won’t be finalized until a few days after the draft, and some of the players in attendance have already committed elsewhere for Las Vegas. There are a few offseason steps left to take and dominos to fall. But the last two days have been a success, it would seem.
Here’s the full list of players who attended the workout:
|Zach Auguste||Forward||6-4||Notre Dame||USA||Turkey|
|Alec Brown||Forward||7-1||Green Bay||USA||D-League|
|Will Davis||Forward||6-8||UC Irvine||USA||D-League|
|Cleanthony Early||Forward||6-7||Wichita State||USA||D-League|
|R.J. Hunter||Guard||6-5||Georgia State||USA||D-League|
|Alfonzo McKinnie||Forward||6-8||Wisc. – Green Bay||USA||D-League|
|Malcolm Miller||Forward||6-7||Holy Cross||USA||Germany|
|Patrick Miller||Guard||6-1||Tennessee State||USA||D-League|
|Xavier Munford||Guard||6-2||Rhode Island||USA||Spain|
|Stefan Nastic||Center||7-0||Stanford||Yugoslavia (Canada)||NBL Canada|
|Norvel Pelle||Forward||6-10||St. John’s||Antigua||Italy|
|Adam Smith||Guard||6-1||Georgia Tech||USA||Italy|
Rather than diving in on all 24 players at once, I figured the more prudent approach would be to cover 12 here and 12 yesterday.
2016-17: LVSL with Suns; 10.7 PPG, 5.2 RPB, 1.9 BPG, 47.6 FG%, 36.4 3FG% in D-League, 6 games in Spain
A second-round pick of the Suns in 2014, Brown got three Summer League looks before the team opted to renounce his rights. Rather than return overseas, where he had played the season prior, Brown tried his hand at the D-League (though he ultimately returned to Spain for a highly effective six-game stretch, too). What he showed there is more or less the book on him: He can stretch the floor from the center position and protect the rim at the other end. Whenever a player combines those two skills, he’s going to stay on the radar for a long time. The Raptors are pretty deep at the five, but the 24-year-old remains an intriguing prospect regardless of depth chart.
2016-17: 9.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 61.2 FG% in D-League
After going undrafted out of UC Irvine in 2015, Davis spent a year playing a smaller role in Greece, a season that seemed to help improve his game. When he returned stateside for a try at the D-League last year, Davis proved efficient around the bucket and a presence at the rim on defense. The former Big West Defensive Player of the Year rediscovered some of the shot-blocking that made him intriguing despite being a 6-foot-8 center, and he probably put himself in position for his first Summer League look this year. Bigs sometimes develop a little more slowly, and at 24, Davis could be ready to take the step to starting in the D-League or cashing in with a more substantial overseas deal.
2016-17: LVSL with Warriors; 14.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, 40.8 FG%, 35.5 3FG% in Italy/Germany
The son of former Raptors assistant Alex English, A.J. went undrafted out of Iona a year ago and opted to split his first pro season between Italy and Germany. A three-time First-Team All-MAAC player, English continued to look the part of interesting combo-guard prospect, putting up strong assist numbers by European standards and showing a steady hand from the FIBA line. He wasn’t exceptionally efficient scoring the ball overall, but there was nothing to show he wasn’t the scoring and playmaking threat he was in his last three years of college. The key for English will be showing it against higher-end competition, something a second Summer League stint could give him the opportunity to do.
2016-17: LVSL with Mavericks; 8.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 41.2 FG%, 30.6 3FG% in Turkey
One of the more recognizable names on the workout list, the former No. 35 overall pick of the Kings has been out of the NBA for four years now. Still just 26, Honeycutt’s eschewed the D-League the past few years in order to not only cash in with larger overseas contracts, but to facilitate his growth and maturity, something that may have been lacking in his initial two-year, 24-game NBA stint.
“I think for me, what it’s always kinda been is my maturity,” Honeycutt said. “Going through Sac and not really playing a lot, having new coaches come in, and not really having a controlled environment. So going overseas and growing a little bit, learning the European system which, a lot of the NBA is turning into playing multiple positions.”
One other thing Honeycutt looked to add to his game was improved low-post scoring, taking a page out of Shaun Livingston’s book as a larger wing. With more pick-and-roll responsibility overseas to help develop his handle and playmaking, the added threat of posting up guards on switches or cross-matches could make Honeycutt an even more intriguing offensive piece. No, he still hasn’t developed a steady 3-point shot or proven efficient in a large role abroad, but he’s comfortable in a role that may be fairly similar to his projection as an NBA bench piece, which could make the transition easier if he can catch on.
2016-17: LVSL with Pelicans, camp with Knicks; 12.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 45.4 FG%, 25.4 3FG% in D-League
Perhaps the most interesting prospect in the workout from a raw template perspective, Inglis was a really fun draft-and-stash pick when the Bucks took him 31st overall in 2014. Of course, they didn’t stash him, instead asking the then-19-year-old with trying his hand at the NBA without the benefit of a D-League affiliate or a full offseason (due to injury). Inglis has struggled to find a consistent footing ever since, robbed of some of his early development time. The Bucks have done a good job developing youth without an affiliate, sure, but between injuries and a general lack of playing time, there’s still not a great sense of what Inglis is or could be. Considering he measured with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and nearly 9-foot standing reach, already weighs in at 240 pounds, and was a borderline first-round pick, it’s worth continuing to track his development, particularly if the Raptors (or 905) think they can help bring along the 22-year-old’s 3-point shot.
2016-17: 24.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 6.2 APG, 2.0 SPG, 48.8 FG%, 16.1 3FG%
After playing his way from the NJCA to a community college to Memphis, Johnson went undrafted but got a camp look from the Rockets in 2014. Still just 24 here three years later, Johnson spent a year in the D-League before playing a pair overseas, and it would be interesting to see how progress shown in Lebanon translates against some fringe NBA-caliber competition, because the numbers alone are staggering across the board. Johnson has been dominant in lesser leagues, and while he’s still short the necessary 3-point stroke to round out his offensive game, he could be an intriguing D-League point guard, a spot the 905 may or may not wind up needing help this year, depending on how the Raptors’ roster situation shakes out.
2016-17: 14.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 51.0 FG%, 30.8 3FG% in D-League
The clear owner of the best story at the minicamp, McKinnie famously once paid $150 to try out for his hometown Windy City Bulls. From there, he earned a camp invite, made the roster, and played his way to the D-League All-Star Game and D-League Elite Minicamp. As the D-League grows in prominence, these stories pop up, but few can boast this degree of ascension. The next step for McKinnie, then, would be to get a camp invite from an NBA team (or even a Summer League one), and he’s surely shown enough to this point to earn just that. The 24-year-old can guard either forward spot, has at least show-me range out to the corners, and is a terrific rebounder for 6-foot-8. He might need another year of continued seasoning, but given how much he’s shown in a year, an NBA team might be willing to use a two-way spot to see how this plays out.
2016-17: LVSL with Bulls; 16.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 47.5 FG%, 31.9 3FG% in D-League
After four years at Tennessee State, Miller spent a season abroad before opting for the D-League the past two seasons. Splitting time between Texas and Sioux Falls this year, his 3-point stroke regressed in a larger sample but the rest of his game, most notably his ability to get to the line and create for others, continued to develop. Now 25, it’s unclear if Miller would settle for a third consecutive season being a quality D-Leaguer, but it’s likewise unclear if he’s shown quite enough shooting as a scorer or playmaking as a lead-guard to land firmly on the NBA radar. A second turn in Summer League would seem fairly certain if he wants it, at least.
2016-17: 17.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 54.8 FG%, 22.0 3FG% in Canada (NBL)
A late addition to the workout after someone else dropped out injured, the Serbian-Canadian out of Stanford presents a physical presence for the other centers in attendance to bang against. Five years with the Cardinal saw Nastic earn All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention and make the NIT All-Tournament Team in his senior season, when his role and numbers took a significant step forward. He spent his first pro season in the Adriatic League before returning to Canada to play for the Orangeville A’s of the NBL last year, where he scored with notable volume and even flashed some 3-point range. He wouldn’t be the first Canadian to make the jump from the NBL to the 905. Thornhill, stand up.
2016-17: LVSL with Heat; 6.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 64.3 FG% in Italy
It’s been an interesting path to this point for Pelle, who had originally signed with St. John’s as the No. 1 center in the 2011 recruiting class but never got on the floor due to academics. He bounced between prep schools and entered the 2013, and then 2014, NBA Draft (the Raptors worked him out), but apparently couldn’t show enough just in workouts to land a selection. He played sparingly over parts of two D-League seasons before heading overseas, where he’s been monstrously efficient around the basket and as a shot-blocker, turning away a ludicrous 13.8 percent of opponent 2-point attempts while on the floor this season. That number would be impressive at the local YMCA, let alone in a decent Italian environment. The 24-year-old stands 6-foot-11 with some nice bounce, and given his production in a small role overseas, you’d have to think he’s on the radar for a second Summer League look and a D-League spot. There’s a lot to like.
2016-17: 12.4 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.1 BPG, 60.4 FG% in Italy
The Raptors are getting their second look at Reynolds in a short amount of time, as he was a part of their pre-draft workout process a season ago. Ranked inside Chad Ford’s top-100, Reynolds ultimately went undrafted and spent last season in Italy, where he was quite efficient. This time last year, he was an overaged junior who was trying to show more than his numbers at Xavier did, and the fact that he produced more in a professional league should be fairly encouraging. At 6-foot-10 and 232 pounds, Reynolds has the body to bang in the post (I remember Brice Johnson talking about Reynolds hitting him pretty hard after last year’s workout), though he hasn’t shown much in the way of range at any level yet.
2016-17: OSL with Hornets; 15.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.3 SPG< 43.6 FG%, 36.1 3FG% in D-League
An All-Pac-12 Second-Teamer in his senior year at Arizona, York went undrafted but had a strong Summer League showing, kicking off a pretty strong first professional season. Opting to stay close to the NBA in the D-League, York was one of the league’s more prominent scorers, continuing to show deep range and an ability to get his own shot while also taking strides as an initiator of offense for others, something he didn’t always get the chance to do with the Wildcats. That skill, and his defense, will be important, but he’s well aware of what keeps him on the NBA radar.
“I think everyone knows that it’s just shooting, shooting the ball at a high level,” York said of his performance. “I’ve shot 40 percent for a career at college, shot 86, 87 percent from the free-throw line. So teams know what they’re gonna get: It’s gonna be 40 percent, 86-87 percent. I didn’t even shoot the ball well here today or yesterday, but I played defense really well and tried to effect the game in ways that I know how to.”
One person who definitely knows what York can bring is 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse, who York believes was instrumental in him landing here for the mini-camp.
“Yeah, I had Jerry Stackhouse come up to me personally and tell me ‘Hey, I need you to come see me in the summer,'” York said. “I didn’t really think anything of it, I thought he was just saying congratulations on a good game. My agent, sure enough, calls me and tells me you have a minicamp with the Raptors, and I know for a fact it’s 100 percent on Jerry Stackhouse. He definitely got me this offer.”
In fairness, York lighting up the 905 (he had a 31-5-5 outing against them in January and scored 19 in another meeting) probably got him on their radar on its own merit. Don’t expect York with the Raptors in Vegas, though – he’s already committed to the Hornets and Lakers for Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues, respectively.
- As a reminder, the draft takes place on June 22. The Raptors do not have any more draft workouts currently scheduled, having worked out 51 players already. As a reminder, the workouts are just one part of the process, so don’t look too much into who was/was not here.
- The adidas EuroCamp was also last weekend in Italy, for those looking ahead to 2018 and beyond.
- Raptors president Masai Ujiri is expected to speak to media sometime next week (likely Tuesday), regardless of if additional draft workouts are added.
- Several Raptors have been around town and the BioSteel Centre this week, and even worked out together between minicamp sessions yesterday. Among them are Norman Powell, Bruno Caboclo, Lucas Nogueira, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, Jakob Poeltl, and Cory Joseph. There could be more, too, those are the only ones I’m able to confirm. (Patrick Patterson is also in town, but whether he’s worked out here is unclear given his free agent status.)
- I’ll be posting some things on my Instagram story throughout the process, if you want to follow along there, too.
- Included: R.J. Hunter, down two, drawing a foul on a championship-winning 3-point attempt. Not included: Him going 1-of-3 at the line.