Nowell’s impact clear despite another blowout loss for 905

Markquis Nowell really is the little engine that could.

The Raptors 905 fell to 0-4 on the season, as they started a three-game road trip with a convincing 108-82 loss to the Greensboro Swarm on Friday night.

The guard-forward pairing of Markquis Nowell and Mouhamadou Gueye led the way for the 905 in the defeat. Nowell put up 15 points and five assists in just 20 minutes of action, and Gueye, who leads the squad in scoring, put up 17 points to go with 6 rebounds.

Myles Burns also had another impressive outing off the bench with a 16-point, 12-rebound, double-double. Meanwhile, Kevin Obanor made his debut for the squad and looked solid going 3-5 from the field for 12 points in 20 minutes.

The little engine that could

Despite the 905 being winless, there have been some positives. The main one being, just how much of a difference-maker Nowell has been.

He was the only 905 player with a positive plus-minus last night. A +10 despite a 26-point loss, and it was evident just by watching that whenever he wasn’t out there, the squad was a mess.

His first substitution of the contest came late in the first when the team was down three, and in the five minutes he sat, that deficit grew to 10.

When he got back on, he orchestrated a 20-9 run that got the 905 a 51-44 halftime lead.

After the break, his first rest came when his squad was up four, and when he checked back in four minutes later they were down four.

What does the five-foot-seven rookie do? He immediately impacts the game by running the break and zipping a left-handed no-look pass into the paint from beyond the arch for an easy layup.

He then sat for what you would’ve assumed was a small rest before the fourth quarter got underway, but the game quickly got so out of hand that there was no need for him to get back in.

It wasn’t just last night, the on/off numbers show his impact has been massive all season. The 905’s offensive rating plummets 35.5 points when he’s off the floor. Their defensive rating goes down nearly 20 points as well.

His net rating differential is +53 when he’s on the floor versus when he sits. That’s top-five in the entire G League (min. 30 minutes on).

Second half mishap

Unfortunately, his great play wasn’t enough for his team to get their first win of the season as the 905 couldn’t overcome their inefficiencies in the second half.

Through the third and fourth quarters, the Swarm outscored the 905 by 33 points, mostly thanks to their dominance on the glass. Greensboro finished +15 on total rebounds, +12 on defensive rebounds, and stymied any momentum the 905 tried to create.

Greensboro’s two-ways Amari Bailey and Leaky Black showed out off the bench as the Swarm picked up their first victory of the season. Bailey put up a game-high 26 points on 50 per cent shooting while Black racked up a near triple-double via 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists.

The 905 didn’t do themselves any favours as they missed eight of their 14 free throw attempts, committed 17 turnovers (10 in the second half), and finished a lowly 6-30 from distance.

They’ll have a chance to make up for the loss in quick fashion as the 905 take on the Swarm once again in the second leg of a back-to-back tonight.