The Toronto Raptors announced their roster for the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League on Tuesday. The roster is as follows:
|NO.||PLAYER||POS||HT||WT||BIRTHDATE||PRIOR TO NBA/HOME COUNTRY||NBA EXP.|
|14||Justin Edwards||G||6-4||200||10/31/1992||Kansas State/Canada||R|
|19||Tidjan Keita||F||6-10||200||11/30/1996||Thetford Academy (QC)/France||R|
|34||Alfonzo McKinnie||F||6-8||215||9/17/1992||Wisconsin-Green Bay/USA||R|
|1||Kennedy Meeks||F-C||6-10||277||2/5/1995||North Carolina/USA||R|
|13||Malcolm Miller||G-F||6-7||210||3/6/1993||Holy Cross/USA||R|
|43||Pascal Siakam||F||6-9||230||4/2/1994||New Mexico State/Cameroon||1|
|21||Matt Thomas||G||6-5||193||8/4/1994||Iowa State/USA||R|
|23||Fred VanVleet||G||6-0||195||2/25/1994||Wichita State/USA||1|
|22||Paul Watson||G-F||6-7||210||12/30/1994||Fresno State/USA||R|
|SUMMER LEAGUE COACHES: Jama Mahlalela & Patrick Mutombo|
Their schedule for the tournament is as follows:
Fri. July 7 – 6 p.m. ET vs. New Orleans, NBA TV – Cox Pavillion
Sat. July 8 – 6:30 p.m. ET vs. Minnesota, NBA TV – Thomas & Mack Center
Mon. July 10 – 8 p.m. ET vs. Denver, ESPNU – Cox Pavillion
The Raptors will get at least two more games, but the schedule will depend on seeding. Teams seeded 9-24 will play July 12, while teams seeded 1-8 and the winners from the 9-24 games will play July 13. There’s a July 14 schedule date for losing teams needing a fifth game, and then the quarters, semis, and finals will run July 15, 16, and 17.
Check back momentarily for some background on each name on the roster.
Jama Mahlalela: A UBC product, Mahlalela worked with NBA Cares before landing on the Raptors’ staff for the 2013-14 season. Considered a player development specialist, Mahlalela earns raves for his enthusiastic, optimistic, high-energy approach and has been tasked with leading pre-draft workouts and co-coaching last year’s summer team. He earned a bump to the third assistant’s chair ahead of the 2016-17 season.
Patrick Mutombo: Added to the staff last summer, Mutombo was brought in for his experience on the player development side through his time with the Denver Nuggets and Austin Spurs. He’s a former D-Leaguer himself. This should be more good experience as Mutombo builds his resume.
Perhaps most notable here is the absence of Jerry Stackhouse from the LVSL coaching staff. Stackhouse split the duties with Mahlalela last summer before becoming head coach of Raptors 905, where he led the team to a championship and was named D-League Coach of the Year. He made a definitive impression and is considered among the league’s top rookie coaching candidates. This is probably just the Raptors trying to increase the experience level of others on the staff in a head coaching role, and Stackhouse will probably be around to lend a hand, but there will certainly be speculation as to whether this is smoke ahead of potential coaching carousel fire.
OG Anunoby: The No. 23 overall pick is technically on the roster but will not play in the tournament. Anunoby tore the ACL in his right knee in January and is currently rehabilitating the injury in the Los Angeles area. Even without getting on the court, Vegas should prove a useful experience for Anunoby, who can get to know his coaches and teammates and begin learning the system from the front row of the bench.
Jakob Poeltl: If there’s a player who doesn’t threaten to stand out much in a format like Summer League, it’s probably Poeltl. Already a smart, heady player after just one year in the league, the 21-year-old will probably do a lot of cerebral things to help the summer squad that don’t necessarily show up on the box score or highlight reel. The league’s least-passed-to player over his 54 regular season games, Poeltl will probably have a larger showcase here but still not a featured role (he took 21 field-goal attempts in 126 minutes here last year). Poeltl turned in a nice rookie season, and this should be a good chance to see how any work on his body or range is coming along.
Pascal Siakam: Watch out for threes! Seriously, once Siakam was sent down to the D-League after his half-season pressed into emergency starting duty, the biggest thing that stood out about his game was how much smoother his shooting stroke looked from the start of the year. If brief glimpses at BioSteel Centre the past couple weeks are any indication, that progress is continuing along well. The expectation shouldn’t be elite marksmanship or anything, but Siakam hitting that shot with regularity would help with some of the fit issues that eventually saw him lose his spot (although he would have, anyway, once Serge Ibaka was acquired). Siakam earned a lot of fans very quickly in just a 15-minute sample here last summer. The backwards nature of his rookie season may have taken some shine off, but this should be a good reminder of the fun things the 23-year-old can bring to the table.
Fred VanVleet: A year ago, VanVleet turned this showcase into a two-year NBA deal, then filled in admirably as a third point guard and, afterward, helped lead Raptors 905 to a championship. Here, he’ll be tasked with being the experienced, steady hand leading the younger group, which speaks to the team’s trust in him at just 23. VanVleet probably doesn’t have a ton to prove here, but it’s a chance to work on his game, flash range he only got to show in a small sample last season, and perhaps convince the team that the four-point-guard hierarchy is worth shaking up.
Goodluck Okonoboh: Stackhouse’s “pitbull” with the 905, the former top college recruit didn’t see the floor a lot in his first pro season due to the frontcourt depth at the D-League level. When he did play, he was a giant ball of energy, turning away shots and crashing the glass with abandon. That was enough that when Edy Tavares was called up late in the year, the 905 turned to Okonoboh to start for spot minutes. Still just 22, the 905 would probably like to get him back again this year and see what he can do with more than 51 minutes of regular-season action.
Will Sheehey: An untimely injury prevented Sheehey’s season from getting the attention it deserved during the 905’s push to a title, but the fact remains that he was a key part of their system at both ends of the floor. The Indiana product averaged 10.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, two assists, and 1.3 steals in 23.6 minutes, shot 48.5 percent overall, hit 35.6 percent of his threes, and switched across multiple positions at the other end of the floor. The Raptors have talked about potentially using their two-way contracts to “promote” 905ers, and a strong Vegas showing could have Sheehey in the mix for one, or at least a camp invite.
Exhibit 10 Deals
Kennedy Meeks: The Raptors signed Meeks shortly after he went undrafted, making him their first Exhibit 10 contract. That means he’ll be in camp with the team, and the Raptors can either choose to convert the deal into a two-way contract or try to make Meeks a G-League Affiliate Player, in which case he’d receive a $50,000 bonus for agreeing to go. Meeks is a big, physical body with underrated agility and soft hands, and he probably figures to be the summer team’s best rebounding presence. You can read more about Meeks here.
Undrafted Free Agents
Troy Caupain: Outside of Meeks, Caupain is the big undrafted fish here. While he was ranked outside of the top 100 by most draft rankers, Kevin Pelton’s model at ESPN ranked him 44th, and the Raptors thought enough of him to bring him in for a pre-draft workout. A four-year senior out of Cincinnati, Caupain has shown he can play either guard spot, work as a distributor or spot up, and use his 6-foot-4 frame to decent effect on defense. The limiting factor for Caupain as a prospect may be his 3-point shot, as he hit just 33.8 percent of a high volume of attempts during his college career. If he can hone that weapon, he’ll have the all-around game to make him worth tracking, and he’s still just 21.
Cole Huff: An over-aged senior thanks to a mid-college transfer from Nevada to Creighton, Huff may be one of the best shooters on the Vegas roster. Over his four college seasons, he shot 39.2 percent on threes, and that mark jumped to 46.3 percent as a senior. Considering he took a fair number of shots and is also a strong free-throw shooter, that would appear to be a skill that’s ready to translate to the NBA 3-point line. Huff’s collegiate numbers don’t jump off the page otherwise – he averaged 9.2 points and 3.9 rebounds this year – but he has experience in a defined system role, which should make the transition to a similar role seamless, whether it’s in the G-League or overseas.
Tidjan Keita: The most unknown name on the roster really shouldn’t be, because Keita could be a long-term diamond in the rough. Originally from France, Keita’s been playing high-school ball at the Thetford Academy in Thetford Mines, Quebec. Despite his relatively unknown high-school status, Keita is already 20, but that didn’t stop DraftExpress from ranking him as their No. 89 prospect. A bit off-board, sure, but with a 6-foot-10, 200-pound frame and a 7-foot-3 wingspan, it’s easy to see why the Raptors would be interested. Game footage is limited, but workout videos show an agile big with a lot of burst and athleticism. He’ll be an interesting test of the organization’s willingness to chase raw tools and perhaps a litmus for how they intend to use their two-way contracts.
Matt Thomas: A senior out of Iowa State, The Iceman didn’t get ranked in any major top 100 but he did earn a pre-draft workout invite from the Raptors. They liked what they saw enough to extend the Vegas invite, and Thomas will rival Huff (and a couple others) as the team’s best long-range marksman. Over his final two college years, Thomas shot 43.8 percent on nearly six 3-point attempts per game, and he’s an elite free-throw shooter, giving him one of the best potential NBA 3-point projections out there. That’s a great skill to get a foot in the door, and the 22-year-old will look to show he can contribute beyond a specialist role – he averaged 12.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists this year and earned his second consecutive All-Big 12 honorable mention.
Update: Thomas has been scratched from the roster and replaced by Windsor native Mychal Mulder.
Paul Watson: Another unranked undrafted free agent the Raptors worked out during the pre-draft process, the Fresno State product is coming off of a decent close to his college career. While Watson never matched the efficiency he showed as a freshman, he did improve as a rebounder and secondary playmaker. He averaged 11.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in his final year, with his best true-shooting percentage since in three seasons (52 percent). A decline in 3-point percentage precluded him from having what probably would have been considered a career-year offensively, but there’s enough sample – four years at nearly four attempts per-game – to feel confident in Watson’s 36.2-percent mark from long-range at least portending respectability from the deeper NBA line.
Other Free Agents
Justin Edwards: A little Can-Con for you, the Whitby native has been on the Raptors’ radar since pre-draft workouts a year ago. He wound up undrafted after four years split between Maine and Kansas State but found a home in the Hungarian League, where he had a productive season. In 47 games there, Edwards averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists,a nd 1./5 steals, shooting 46 percent overall and 34.9 percent on threes. The 6-foot-4 guard developing additional range from outside is a nice step forward, as he shot just 29.3 percent in college and never topped 33 percent, and that tool is kind of a must-have for him to take the next step.
Jordan Loyd: After a five-year college career (Gurman and then Indianapolis), Loyd headed to the D-League for his first pro season last year, providing a great return on Fort Wayne’s third-round draft pick. In 49 games, the 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and four assists, and while he was only moderately efficient overall, his 34.2-percent mark from long-range is encouraging. Loyd shot 40 percent from three in his college career and seemed to transition fairly well to the deeper line, which will be important for his development as a spark-plug scorer and secondary distributor.
Alfonzo McKinnie: Perhaps the most fun story on the roster, McKinnie paid his way into a tryout with the Windy City Bulls last season before turning that into a camp deal, a roster spot, and then a place on the D-League All-Star Team. The Raptors liked enough of what they saw from McKinnie in the D-League a year ago to bring him in for the free agent mini-camp they had earlier this month, and if he continues to impress in Vegas, McKinnie could figure to be a candidate for a two-way contract or a camp invite. The 24-year-old averaged 14.9 points and 9.2 rebounds in 50 D-League games last year while shooting 51 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent on threes. The 3-ball is something to watch, too, as McKinnie shot 35.1 percent on a small volume over four college seasons (with Eastern Illinois and then Green Bay) and 36 percent in a short stint in Mexico in 2015-16. He also has some notable defensive potential given his athleticism and rebounding, but he’s not a finished product in that regard just yet.
Malcolm Miller: Another name that parlayed a strong pro season into an invite to that free agent mini-camp, the 24-year-old Miller will be playing in his fifth Summer League tournament over the last three years (the previous four were with Boston across the Vegas and Utah leagues). The four-year Holy Cross product was even in camp with the Celtics in 2015 and then headed to the D-League, where he averaged 12.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks while hitting 39.8 percent of a high volume of threes (and 49.6 percent overall). Miller opted to play in the German League last year, taking on a smaller role but still proving efficient with 6.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in his 18.7 minutes per-game with a 62.4 true-shooting percentage.
Jalen Reynolds: The Raptors have been tracking Reynolds for a while now, bringing him in for a pre-draft workout in 2016 and then again for the mini-camp a few weeks back. Reynolds ultimately went undrafted last year but turned in a strong season in Italy, averaging 12.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in just 21 minutes while shooting 60.4 percent from the floor. Reynolds still hasn’t stretched his range out much, but he’s a quality rebounder for the power forward position and an efficient scorer inside.
Note: I refer to the G-League as the D-League when writing in the past tense.
It’s silly to try to peg things down like this (in terms of depth and what position a lot of these fluid wing/forwards will play), but here’s how the roster shapes up in rough strokes:
PG: VanVleet, Caupain, Loyd
SG: Sheehey, Edwards,
SF: McKinnie, Miller, Huff, Watson
PF: Siakam, Reynolds, Keita
C: Poeltl, Meeks, Okonoboh