The Toronto Raptors announced their roster for the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League on Monday afternoon.
|NO.||PLAYER||POS||HT||WT||BIRTHDATE||PRIOR TO NBA/HOME COUNTRY||NBA EXP.|
|20||Jeff Dowtin||G||6-3||185||5/10/1997||Rhode Island/USA||1|
|8||Ron Harper Jr.||G-F||6-6||245||4/12/2000||Rutgers/USA||R|
|16||Abu Kigab||F||6-7||220||11/3/1998||Boise State/Canada||R|
|0||Rodions Kurucs||F||6-9||230||2/5/1998||FC Barcelona (Spain)/Latvia||3|
|30||Jaylen Sims||G||6-6||210||12/11/1998||UNC Wilmington/USA||R|
Banton returns to the Las Vegas Summer League after a rollercoaster rookie season. As a 2021 2nd round selection, he fared well considered his time spent between the Raptors 905 and the senior team. With the 905, Banton was absolutely tremendous — leading the team to a 24-8 record (G-League best) while averaging 24/9/6 on .541/.393/.545 shooting splits.
Dalano Banton (@DALANOBANTON) shortly after being the first Canadian ever drafted by the Toronto Raptors. What a story.
It’s only right that the Rexdale product let out an “AH AH AH AH AH” pic.twitter.com/tr4U4O3CMP
— Sahal Abdi (@sahaIabdi) July 30, 2021
This summer, Toronto is primarily looking for enhanced shot-making ability while hoping Banton’s capacity to operate in a half-court setting improves. Looking up and down this roster, Las Vegas looks like a prime opportunity for Banton to take lead of this team.
Although Brooks wasn’t a literal returnee from the 2021 Summer League roster, he did shuffle back and forth like Banton and Champagnie between the NBA and G-League. He spent some time with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (and looked damn good), while getting called up by the Houston Rockets. It’s clear what Brooks’ strengths are. He’s a knockdown shooter who is there as a floor-stretching machine. Much like Champagnie, he’ll likely be fighting for the last couple roster spots on the team. If that spot doesn’t result in him staying in the 416 (or 905), the Summer League also acts as an opportunity to indirectly show out for other NBA teams in Vegas.
Justin’s season was similar to Banton’s in the sense that they both entered the 2021-2022 season as rookies and dominated their time in the G-League, while also collecting minimal minutes with the Toronto Raptors. Also like Banton, Champagnie is looking to use this Las Vegas stint as a springboard before heading into a training camp battle for rotation spots.
The draft pick that Raptors fans have seemed to almost forget. The University of Louisville product spent a whopping total of 2 minutes on the floor for Nick Nurse in the 2021-2022 season. His first appearance came in the second week of the NBA regular season — a blowout-win versus the Indiana Pacers where he was given less just mere seconds of playing time. His last and final appearance came in two minutes versus the Washington Wizards on December 5th, 2021. Johnson is the wild card here, simply because most fans (who don’t double as Raptors 905 diehards) don’t know much about him. In the G-League, Johnson averaged 11.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.5 ast with .402/.324/.813 shooting splits. The combo guard looks to make a notable splash in Vegas, with hopes to lock down a roster spot.
At this point, I might just tell you to read the Armoni Brooks section. Wilson played some for the Toronto Raptors in the 2021-2022 season but couldn’t lay claim on a roster spot as he was eventually released to (ironically) make way for… Armoni Brooks. Wilson will undoubtedly use this opportunity to prove that he belongs to stay in Toronto.
Barcello leaves BYU as a fifth-year senior, being one of the better players out of the Provo, Utah program. He initially played two years at Arizona before transferring to BYU He’s described by draft analysts as a solid shooter, with his range easily extending to NBA-level. A good playmaker and decent scorer off the dribble. On the downside, he struggles defensively against athletic opponents and lacks an elite first-step offensively.
Ron Harper Jr.
Harper Jr. has already agreed to a two-way deal with the Toronto Raptors. He’s a terrific 3PT shooter (which the Raptors badly need at the wing position) and is an aggressive, effective player in transition (sound like a recent draft trend?). As a two-way player, he’ll likely bounce between the 905 and senior team during the upcoming season. Being one of the highly sought-after undrafted rookies, expectations will naturally be heightened in Las Vegas.
One of the older prospects, Hawkins has very similar traits to Barcello — just in a much bigger body. He’s a very good shooter, with solid off-the-dribble shot-making ability. One cool tidbit to Hawkins game is his penchant for finding mismatches and backing down smaller players. His back-to-the-basket game is something he constantly went to during his time at Creighton. He’s a good rebounder at his size, however is an average athlete and lacks NBA-level defense and playmaking ability. As a classified sixth-year senior + being 25 years old, Hawkins is slowly running out of time to prove himself at the NBA level. Here’s to hoping he shows out in Las Vegas.
Local boy alert! Abu Kigab is a Sudanese-Canadian who attended high school in St. Catherines, Ontario. He originally attended the University of Oregon, but transferred to Boise State after a lack of opportunity. He turned heads at his new school with his athletic ‘poster’ highlights and his ability to score on all types of off-ball motion plays. Cool story incoming: Kigab is the cousin of a friend of mine! An athletic, energetic forward with a high-motor who doesn’t possess eye-opening box score statistics, but led Boise State to the 2022 NCAA Tournament. His aggressiveness and plus-versatility could see him make noise in Vegas.
Now if we’re talking expectations? This is where they really come into play. Koloko is the sole Raptors selection in the 2022 NBA Draft. A projected late-1st rounder by various reputable draft websites, most fans seemed delighted at the Raptors 2022 2nd-round selection. A defensive stalwart with plus-athleticism, a great motor and good hands. Koloko displayed good rebounding skills while also showing off nifty touch as a low-post scorer.
Pick #33: Christian Koloko to Toronto
Absolute homerun. Nurse is a very creative coach that'll maximize his potential.
Shot 73.5% from the line and 74% at the rim. Good rim protector. But man, his passing and stretchability are going to do it for him. Love this pick.
Grade: A+ pic.twitter.com/Ul9qaaV4Y5
— Ersin Demir (@EDemirNBA) June 25, 2022
He projects a solid rim-protector at the NBA level, who — if things go right in Las Vegas, unlike most of the SL roster — could have a leg-up in his argument for an eventual Raptors rotation spot. All eyes are on Koloko.
Unlike most of the Summer League roster, Porter is… well-travelled. After leaving the University of Nevada in 2018-19, he immediately went international. In the 19-20 season, he played for three clubs in two countries — Atomeromu SE in Hungary (first division) & Konyaspor/Duzce (second division – Turkey). Most recently, he played in Bulgaria (first division) during the past two seasons.
He seems to be enjoying his time there.
— Andrea Centenari (@AndreaCentenari) January 27, 2022
Porter is an athletic big who excels as the primary roll-man. He runs the floor well and is extremely active around the rim. The video above demonstrates his ability as an offensive rebounder and rim-finisher.
Sims spent four years at UNC Wilmington, steadily improving year after year. Being one of the primary options at UNCW, Sims handled the responsibility quite well. Some would argue they’d have liked to see more improvement from his junior to senior season, particularly his shooting numbers. Sims brings an ability that does sorely lack on this team — isolation scoring. In his final two college seasons, he made a living getting to the stripe, finishing at the rim and scoring at all three levels. He also had a penchant for coming through in the clutch. In his senior season alone, he had an NCAA-high four (!!!) game-winning/game-tying baskets.
This was one of them.
— NCAA Buzzer Beaters & Game Winners (@NCAABuzzerBters) January 21, 2022
Surprise! Another senior. Vital is another athletic, energetic combo guard who plays tough defense and has an all-around offensive game. He’s played most recently in the Canadian Elite Basketball League for the Hamilton Honey Badgers. He also completed a free agent workout for the Toronto Raptors in early June. By all accounts, the assumption is that it clearly went well. While in Las Vegas, Vital needs to prove that he can efficiently score the basketball while also demonstrating pure point guard traits at a higher competition level.
The “Other Guys”
A shiny Canadian quarter in donations for every time “senior” is mentioned in this piece. Yes folks, it’s another one. Jeff spent the 2021 preseason with the Orlando Magic, and the 2020-21 season with the Lakeland Magic of the NBA G League. After a 2021 Summer League with Golden State, he then had his contract converted into a Two-Way deal with the Warriors during the 2021-22 season.
Dowtin was originally projected as a 2nd rounder by many draft outlets but went undrafted in the 2020 NBA Draft. In his four years at Rhode Island, Dowtin led his team to two NCAA Tournament appearances. He’s a skilled, athletic playmaker who doesn’t necessarily “wow” you in any specific skill of his game. He does everything you need a point guard to do at an adequate level. Problem is, when you make it this far as a professional basketball player — you usually need something to stand out. And if you’re like most NBA backup point guards, you better be damn good at everything just to stick.
Alright Raptors fans. Put the pitchforks down. Oh wait. You don’t remember?
Kawhi was fed up pic.twitter.com/aVEdfkpIai
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 3, 2019
Yes, that Rodions Kurucs. I mean, let’s be fair. It’s not much. And to be quite honest, most Raptors fans could currently care less about an NBA player ‘shouldering’ Kawhi during a game. In 2019? Sure. In 2022? Let’s just say a lot has changed since then.
Back to the basketball part. Kurucs is a skilled wing that possesses quite a fun, intriguing skillset. He was selected in the 2018 NBA Draft, 40th overall by the Brooklyn Nets. He’s a solid athlete, has great size, an adequate playmaker, displays a good shooting stroke and originally came into the league with great upside. Since then, he hasn’t put together consistent NBA-level performances when given the opportunity. Toronto is using this Summer League as a longer version of an NBA tryout. I personally view Kurucs as an NBA-level rotation player that can very possibly make this roster. Would I want that on a personal level? Well, probably not.
pretty upsetting the raptors are giving rodions kurucs a spot https://t.co/Z6Wbq0BQJJ
— Katie Heindl (@wtevs) July 4, 2022
Let’s just say Rodions Kurucs has a dodgy personal history dating back to 2019. According to a Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Spokesman in 2020: “Kurucs received a conditional discharge and must complete a 16-week domestic violence program and abide by a final order of protection”. This was the result of a 2019 arrest where Kurucs was detained on misdemeanor assault charges in 2019 after allegedly choking, striking, and biting his then-girlfriend during a dispute.
The optics aren’t great. From a strictly-basketball perspective, Kurucs is still fairly young (24 years old) and possesses moldable skills that Toronto’s player development staff could possibly form together. Rodions spent the back-half of the 2020-2021 season with both the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks. In the summer of 2021, Kurucs moved international by signing with KK Partizan of the Basketball League of Serbia and the ABA League.
I mean, he’s the reigning Rookie of the Year. Barnes simply has nothing left to prove at this level.
This may be a great sign for Flynn. Being thrown into the Summer League as a third-year player is usually never a good thing. His long-term future with the Raptors still seems murky, but the hope still remains with Flynn being the backup point guard; the same guard vacancy that some fans are currently screaming for Toronto to sign in free agency.
One of the clear fan-favourites of the last two seasons is currently an unrestricted free agent.
There seems to be some confusion with Yuta Watanabe's status. He is a UFA, not RFA. He has four years of service and isn't coming off his rookie-scale deal.
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) June 28, 2022
Same deal as Yuta. Currently a free agent. On an unrelated note, he seems to be doing great things internationally representing Germany in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers:
Isaac Bonga in Germany's game against Estonia in the FIBA World Cup 2023 Qualifiers pic.twitter.com/iCMb0WdpfN
— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) June 30, 2022