The Toronto Raptors will once again look like a formidable team on paper at Las Vegas Summer League, it seems.
Raptors Republic has learned that the team expects OG Anunoby, Malachi Richardson, Alfonzo McKinnie, Malcolm Miller, and Shevon Thompson all to be on the team’s roster for the July tournament.
This is a great opportunity for Anunoby, who is probably a little too advanced for the Vegas stage impact-wise but who hasn’t had the chance to play a featured role as he will here yet. Anunoby missed all of Summer League last year following knee surgery and was relegated to strength and conditioning work and set shooting. He also didn’t see any time with Raptors 905, immediately jumping into the NBA rotation. Here, the team can funnel more possessions his way to expedite his development and experiment with his face-up game and ability to create in the pick-and-roll. Last summer, Pascal Siakam wowed with the progress he’d made in a similar opportunity, and Anunoby will get his first chance to make a case for a larger share of the offense here.
It’s just as big a spot for Richardson, McKinnie, and Miller, too. Richardson has disappointed through two NBA seasons and now finally has the structure of a proper NBA development system, and the type of progress he can show here could dictate whether the Raptors enter the summer considering him a real piece or just a 15th man with a guaranteed salary. McKinnie has a July 20 guarantee date on his contract for 2018-19, and while the Raptors remain quite fond of him, he’ll need a good showing here for the Raptors to forego the flexibility of that roster spot. Miller missed Summer League a year ago due to ankle surgery, and this will be an audition not only for the Raptors but the league as a whole, as Miller’s a restricted free agent.
For Thompson, this is an opportunity to build on a terrific season with the 905. He was a major factor off the bench behind Kennedy Meeks, ranking near the top of the G League in rebounding rate and field-goal percentage. He flashed enough of a post game, face-up game, and finishing ability that it was immediately perplexing why he was available for cheap early in the G League season, and he played his way into a spot at last month’s G League mini-camp in Chicago (both he and Meeks performed well based on the box scores). Thompson is still a little raw, coming to advanced level basketball a little late, and he’s shown enough – in concert with ridiculous physical measurements – to warrant an extended look as a prospect for center depth.
The rest of the roster probably won’t be filled out until after the draft, when the Raptors have a better sense of what undrafted free agents may be available or if they’ve acquired a pick.
A coach is yet to be determined, but assistants Jama Mahlalela and Patrick Mutombo split the responsibilities last year and could figure to do so again. Who Nick Nurse and company decide will be at the helm of Raptors 905 could be a factor here, although that decision may not be made by the time Summer League rolls around. Mahlalela and Mutombo – perhaps with an assist from 905 assistants like Nathaniel Mitchell and Nicki Gross – could provide some stability and familiarity over two weeks that are of immense importance to some of these players.
The Raptors tip off their Summer League slate on July 6.