Road To The Six: Season Recap
Francis Chow - Raptors905.com
Raptors 905’s inaugural season has been a roller-coaster ride, we saw the team come out of the gate losing nine of the first 14 games followed by a nine-game losing streak starting at the end of December. It was after the D-League showcase hit in mid-January, when fortunes would change. Axel Toupane took his game to the next level while new acquisition, Greg Smith provided a solid presence down low for the club. Raptors 905 would snap the losing streak and go on to win seven of their next eight games before losing the squad’s All-Star and leading rebounder Ronald Roberts for the season due to injury.
Raptors 905 had a rocky month of February without the All-Star forward, going 3-4. To start the final month of the season, Toupane was signed by the Denver Nuggets and Greg Smith was signed to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Raptors 905 would drop the first two games of the month before adding E.J. Singler from the Idaho Stampede and Davion Berry from the Maine Red Claws on to the roster. With the two new additions, Raptors 905 would click on a new level and close out the season with a stellar 8-2 record. For the season, Raptors 905 would finish with a 23-27 record, which ended up being the best record in NBA D-League history for an expansion team.
Coach Mermuys sums up the year:
Raptors 905 had a great year off the court also, tipping off the season in front of a sea of white in a sold-out crowd at the Hershey Centre. The club would go on to have multiple other big games in the year, including a loud crowd for Bollywood night, three-straight sell-outs for all January home games and a March Break game at Air Canada Centre with almost 7500 in attendance.
With a mandate to give back to the community, the players, coaches and staff also spent countless hours in the 905 area inspiring, motivating and teaching:
Give credit to coach Mermuys on developing the players and fostering an environment for growth. We saw some huge leaps in terms of playing ability for almost every player in the rotation. Let’s take a look at some of the bigger successes this season.
Bruno Caboclo struggled with many things early on, the Raptors draft pick had troubles with turnovers, shot selection, and fouls which limited his overall productivity and minutes on the floor. Caboclo’s minutes reached a high of 38 per game in March and his fouls dropped to just 3.5 per game compared to his 5 per game average in January. We saw Caboclo’s shot selection improve, settling for fewer mid-range jumpers late in the season and opting to drive all the way to the basket instead. The Brazilian’s numbers were up across the board, going from 13.4 points per game from November-January up to 16.5 to close out the season. Caboclo’s all-around averages in March of 18.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.4 steals per game on a very solid 45% from the field gave us a glimpse into the versatility of the forward.
Norman Powell is arguably the greatest success for Raptors 905 thus far. The first year guard didn’t see much run with the Raptors early on and saw more minutes with Raptors 905. From his very first game in the D-League, Powell was a force and showed that he belonged at the next level. Powell averaged 24.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.1 steals in his time with the Raptors affiliate. By the time early March hit, Powell had played his last game of the season with Raptors 905 and would become a starter with the main club. Powell did an admirable job filling in for DeMarre Carroll, including a string of six straight double figure games and a career-high 27 points against the Indiana Pacers.
Delon Wright didn’t see huge levels of improvement like his other counterparts in the D-League but the rookie point guard appears to have benefitted from having significant play time with Raptors 905. Wright appeared in 15 games and averaged 17.7 points, 5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. After spending extended time with the D-League affiliate, Wright appeared more confident and comfortable on an NBA floor, capping off his rookie campaign with back-to-back double digit scoring games.
Scott Suggs was the only player to appear in every game this season. Suggs is a flat out scorer and managed to increase his scoring average every month since December. Suggs peaked in March with averages of 21.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The guard has demonstrated an ability to finish with a variety of nifty moves in the paint and knock down threes at a very high rate. We look forward to seeing more improvement from Suggs next season.
Shannon Scott is another player who improved every month of the season. Scott went from averaging 4.6 points and 4.8 assists per game in November all the way up to 14.4 points and 6.9 assists per game in March. Scott showed his all-around ability at the end of the season, consistently finding open teammates, finishing on drives and knocking down open threes. Scott capped off his season with the first triple-double in franchise history as he recorded 24 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in a late March match-up.
Sim Bhullar started the season not playing road games and was limited to just 13 minutes a game due to his conditioning. By the time February hit, the 7’5 centre became a full-time starter, playing 32 minutes a game while averaging 16 points and 12.4 rebounds per game. Bhullar put up seven straight double doubles in February before regressing slightly in March. If Sim can improve his conditioning this off-season and play to his full potential, another NBA call-up could very well be in his future.
The last success this season comes from the two call-ups at the end of February. Axel Toupane and Greg Smith played spectacularly in their 905 stints and were rewarded with call-ups to the NBA. Raptors 905 replaced the two players with Davion Berry and E.J. Singler and both players were essential to the late season run.
Singler came in and averaged 14.7 points, 7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Berry provided a scoring punch with his 17.9 points per game and 3.7 assists per game. Both players are knock down three point shooters and took the offense to the next level for Raptors 905. It will be interesting to see if the two players can keep up this level of play over the grind of an entire season.
The Raptors 905 inaugural season may have just ended but season tickets for next season are already on sale! Be the first to show your support for the team and get tickets for the 2016-17 season by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org