Player Previews

2018-19 Player Preview: Camp Invites

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Coming into camp, the Raptors theoretically have two regular season spots up for grabs, though in reality it’s probably only one. The Raptors have 14 players on their roster, which is the minimum required for the season. They likely won’t sign a 15th player until the latest possible date, hoping to shave some cheddar from their luxury tax bill. It is possible that if someone truly pops in camp, the Raptors will scoop him up on an NBA contract to maintain team control. However, the only probable spot up for grabs is the team’s final two-way contract. There will be five players fighting for that final position.

All five of those players are on Exhibit 10 contracts, so here’s a short primer before we delve into the Raptors’ camp contracts. The team has one two-way contract remaining, and they can choose to convert any of the Exhibit 10 players to a two-way deal. Two-way players will earn more money than G-Leaguers, and they will also benefit from practice and playing time with the parent club. In exchange, the parent club retains NBA control over their two-way players – which isn’t the case for a standard G-League contract. For those Exhibit 10 contract holders who don’t earn a two-way contract, the G-League is still a viable option. Each player can only earn his Exhibit 10 bonus if he signs with the Raptors 905, after which time the bonus does not count against the Raptors’ cap sheet. Expect several of the camp invites to populate the Raptors 905 this year, and it is an exciting group of players.

Deng Adel – Exhibit 10 Contract

At 22-years-old, the South Sudanese native is already an older rookie, having played for three years at Louisville. Adel developed quickly in college, surprisingly becoming a high-minute wing in only his second year. He led the team in scoring in his final year. He shot 35 percent from 3 over his career in college, with free throw percentages in the high 70s every year, so Adel has a legitimate stroke. It looks good, with little extraneous motion. Though offering poor shot selection at times, he should be able to extend his shot to NBA range and knock in a percentage in the mid- to low-30s.

Adel is an explosive leaper with an impressive 6-foot-7 frame. His athleticism didn’t seem to translate to the defensive end in college, as he posted low rebounding, block, and steal rates. Adel did at times lock down opponents, but college observers questioned his consistency at that end.

Though a solid passer, Adel has sloppy handles and will need to improve in order to develop into anything more than a spot-up shooter. His go-to shot was a midrange pull-up, and he initially won’t have any leeway in the NBA to develop that move.

Chris Boucher – Exhibit 10 Contract

The 25-year-old center is a unique prospect for the Raptors. He stands at 6-foot-10, with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, and weighs seemingly less than 200 pounds. Boucher is the only Canadian prospect this year in camp for the Raptors, as he grew up in Montreal. Boucher has played in only one NBA game in his career, where he notched a single rebound for the Golden State Warriors. His story in the G-League, however, has been so appealing that the league itself made a short film about him.

On the court, Boucher is an elite rebounder and shot-blocker. He’s bouncy and fast, and he hunts blocks like a young Shawn Kemp. He averaged 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in two years at Oregon, which he replicated in 20 games for the Santa Cruz Warriors with 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. What makes Boucher truly unique is his theoretical 3-point stroke. Boucher shot 34.4 percent from deep in college, where he was most limited by a slow release. The shot itself looks clean, especially if Boucher could speed it up. Given reps from deep, Boucher could develop into a legitimate rim protector on defence and floor spacer on offence. That’s rare and coveted and potentially worth a roster spot in itself.

Boucher is a guy who Blake has covered extensively in the past for Vice. He, along with Moreland, likely has the inside track on Toronto’s final two-way contract. Boucher is the longer-term prospect, though Moreland is far readier to contribute at the NBA level this season. Which prospect the team selects will likely give us a peak at the team’s priorities.

Kyle Collinsworth – Exhibit 10 Contract

Collinsworth has played NBA minutes for the Dallas Mavericks, though the results were mixed for the wing out of BYU. Namely, his shooting has been horribly inefficient. Though boasting a jumper as broken as Ben Simmons’ (for the record, I think Collinsworth is left-handed, though he shoots with his right), he has several viable skills across the board. He’s a fantastic passer with a flair for the dramatic, and he’s great at cleaning the glass for his size. On defence, he does occasionally sacrifice positioning for turnovers, but he’s great at forcing live-ball turnovers. He’s posted high steal and block rates in college, the G-League, and in NBA minutes.

He was a solid finisher at the rim in college, though that skill never translated to the NBA. His finishes were generally choppy lefty scoops and high-arching hook layups, which don’t work against defenders who use their bodies to defend at the rim. In general, the 6-foot-6 Collinsworth has not yet learned to deal with the NBA’s increased size and athleticism. He needs to improve his finishing from everywhere on the court.

The former missionary to Russia is already almost 27 years old, so he likely has less development ahead than other camp invites. Though certainly skilled in several areas, he needs to be able to score from somewhere to earn NBA minutes.

Kay Felder – Exhibit 10 Contract

With Jordan Loyd – another guard – already in possession of one of the Raptors’ two-way contracts, Felder seems to have perhaps the most difficult path towards a contract beyond his camp invite. Regardless, Felder is a very fun score-first point guard. He stands at 5-foot-9 and possesses juicy handles and vertical. He looks to attack the rim at every possible occasion, even posting an NBA usage rate over 30 percent across two teams in 2017-18.

The only problem is that though Felder loves to shoot, he has never figured out how to score efficiently. Felder has played in 58 NBA games for three franchises in only two years, and his shooting numbers have been truly horrendous. His stroke doesn’t extend beyond the midrange, and he’s not a natural passer either. His turnover numbers are another issue.

In the G-League, Felder has proven to be dominant. With less size protecting the rim, he’s shot far more palatable efficiency numbers. In 11 starts in the 2016-17 season for the Canton Charge, Felder averaged 29.9 points per game with 6.0 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. He shot 46.7 percent from the field and a reasonable-for-his-size 55.9 percent from less than five feet. His skill cannot be questioned at the lower level.

If Felder does make his way to the Raptors 905, he would be an electric lead guard. His window with the Raptors is slim and would require absolute domination during camp. He’s best to see as fun camp competition to push Lorenzo Brown and Jordan Loyd, and Felder may become an important G-League piece down the road.

Jordan Loyd – Two-Way Contract

Loyd has been a Raptors target for a few years now, even playing with Toronto’s Summer League team both last year and this year. When he signed a contract in Turkey for the upcoming season, it seemed like he would be out of the picture, but a recent buyout allowed Loyd to sign Toronto’s first two-way contract. The team is really excited about Loyd, and he’ll be sure to earn minutes for both the 905 and intermittently the Raptors parent club throughout the season.

Blake has been all over Loyd for both Raptors Republic and The Athletic. By all accounts, Loyd is a hard worker who’s remade his body and skillset over the past few years to become playable as a point guard. He’s never been highly recruited or had proper NBA-level development, so the Raptors are thrilled to be able to aid in – and control – his growth.

The 6-foot-4 guard has a quick-release jumpshot, and he can shoot off the catch or dribble. He’ll need to tighten his body around the jumper. Maintaining his balance during his shooting motion could help lift his 3-point percentage, which was a pedestrian 34.2 percent in the G-League in 49 games in 2016-17. Loyd has a solid handle, and his athleticism has improved since he dropped to 200 pounds. He’s in the Raptors’ long-term plans, as his two-way contract is for two years, and the Raptors can convert him to a minimum NBA contract at any time.

Eric Moreland – Exhibit 10 Contract

Moreland is a 26-year-old center who signed with the Sacramento Kings in his rookie year after originally going undrafted in 2014. Though injuries cut short his first year, Moreland spent time in the then-D-League. He was an all-D-League and all-defence player by 2016-17. In 2017-18, Moreland signed with the Detroit Pistons and earned real time as the backup center; I’m surprised that there wasn’t a market for him beyond G-League minutes this year.

Moreland is a hyperactive big, and he notched incredible block and steal rates whenever playing for the Pistons. At 6-foot-10, he’s a legitimate rim protector with theoretical mobility on the perimeter. Moreland is prone to fouling, and he’s not yet channeled his athletic potential into becoming a true defensive force. He needs to improve his defensive awareness and positioning.

On offence, Moreland has next to no range, and he too frequently settles for midrange looks instead of forcing the issue at the rim. He’s a low-usage big, and he could theoretically fit as a rim-runner with impressive vertical explosion. Moreland has some passing chops as well.

With the Raptors, Moreland will compete for a roster spot. Having actually contributed to winning Pistons minutes last year, his past success at the NBA level – far more than any other camp invite – suggests that he has an inside track on Toronto’s final two-way contract. Moreland would be a massive addition to the 905 if he spends time there, boosting the team on both sides of the ball.

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