The Raptors 905 (based in Mississauga and a farm team to the NBA’s Toronto Raptors) NBA G League Draft took place on January 11th. On that day, the 905 drafted Kevon Harris and Gary Payton II. Both players are expected to play for the Raptors 905 and try to make a valuable contribution in the G League.
The Draft Summary of the Raptors 905
Harris was drafted 11th in the 2021 NBA G League draft. A 6’6 senior shooting guard/small forward from Stephen F. Austin, he averaged 17.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game as a senior in the 2019-20 season. He is also a very good three-point shooter, shooting 41.3 percent at the arc.
The NBA’s Raptors would benefit from someone who can play the small forward position. He is also a good rebounder, something the NBA’s Raptors really need right now. The Raptors are currently ranked 24th in rebounding this season (as of January 23rd) according to ESPN. This is what Raptors 905 general manager Chad Sanders said about Harris according to Steven Loung of Sportsnet.
“… So he’s a wing that can put it on the floor and create his own a little bit and his catch-and-shoot from three has shown to be effective. So now it’s just putting him into our system and seeing what we can turn him into.”
Sanders also talked about Harris’s leadership skills including leading Stephen F. Austin to a victory over Duke in 2019. These were all reasons that the 906 took Harris.
— Raptors 905 (@Raptors905) January 11, 2021
Gary Payton II
Payton II was drafted 15th in the 2021 G League draft. The 6’3 point guard has played in the NBA in the last four years. In the 2016-17 NBA season with the Milwaukee Bucks, he averaged 3.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game.
He has steadily improved in the NBA. In the 2019-20 NBA season, he averaged 3.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game with the Washington Wizards. However, growth has been slow. Maybe some time with the 905 will help propel his game and perhaps he could play a valuable role in the NBA’s Raptors’ organization.
More importantly, Payton II is a tremendous defensive player. In his first game with the Wizards last year, he had three steals, a pair of rebounds and was +15 on the floor without scoring a single point. As a result, the Wizards won 115-122 against the New York Knicks on March 10th, 2020. According to Jackson Filyo of the NBA, Scott Brooks, head coach of the Wizards said this about Payton:
“He has what every coach wants,” Brooks said after the game. Brooks would continue: “He has a defensive toughness. He has a presence. He makes winning basketball plays. It’s remarkable. He flies in, meets with me for two minutes, meets with our staff, has a breakfast meeting, and plays so well. Give him credit.”
The NBA’s Raptors are currently ranked ninth in defense (as of January 23rd). This is a decent defensive rating for the Raptors so far. However, it is a drop from the 2019-20 NBA season. In that season they were ranked second in defence in the NBA. Payton would help the Raptors on the defensive end and get them back on track.
— Raptors 905 (@Raptors905) January 11, 2021
Raptors 905 Draft Overview
It is quite unclear if the Raptors 905 players will have a chance to play for the Raptors. However, it is likely as the NBA season will still go on when the NBA G League Finals are played this year. Shams Charania, a senior lead NBA Insider/Writer/Analyst for the Athletic and Stadium said this:
Official: The NBA G League will play its 2021 season in a bubble environment at Disney World near Orlando in February. The top eight teams will advance to single-elimination Playoff.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 8, 2021
The G League teams are playing a 12-15 game season according to Jack Mulroney of CBS Sports. The season will start on February 8th. The top eight teams will qualify for a single knockout in the playoffs. The playoffs will go from March 5-9. There are also only 18 teams participating in the tournament. A big reason for that is the franchise cost of being in a bubble, which is $400,000-$500,000 for each team according to Mulroney.
This G League season unlike the others will be more of a sprint than a marathon. The G League players are also unlikely to play in the NBA while their season is going on. However, if some G League players impress the Raptors management, like Harris or Payton II, they may get an NBA spot with the Raptors after their G League season is over.
All of these draft picks should help the 905 as they head into the 2020-21 NBA G League season this February. In particular, Payton II has previous NBA experience. The question is can these two players play at the NBA level. Still, these are decent draft picks. Lastly, taking a chance on a small forward like Harris is a good idea. As the Raptors need a natural small forward to backup OG Anunoby in the long-run. The Raptors 905 gets a B+ rating at draft night.
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