Raptors 905: Showcase Cup, culture, new faces – here’s what you need to know

After nearly two years, the team is finally returning home to Mississauga to play

Photo of basketball players from the Raptors 905
Isaac Bonga, centre, is helped up by his teammates during the Raptors 905 season opener against the Westchester Knicks at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Mississauga Ont., on Nov. 11. Andro Fam/Toronto Observer

The Raptors 905, the minor-league affiliate of the Toronto Raptors, will be competing in the upcoming Showcase Cup.

The tournament will allow players to display their talents and potentially catch the eye of some National Basketball Association (NBA) franchises ahead of the 2021-22 season.

The 905 tipped off their season on Nov. 11, with back-to-back home games against the Westchester Knicks. After nearly two years of not playing at home, the team finally played in the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Mississauga, Ont.

The 905 pulled out victorious with final box scores of 119-95 and 119-116, showcasing their high-powered offence.

The newly expanded Showcase Cup is held by the NBA’s G League and features all 30 teams, divided into four regional pods that compete in a 14-game tournament.

The tournament started Nov. 5 and ends Dec. 22  at the NBA G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas, NV., at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Raptors 905 have a packed tournament schedule over the next month, so here’s a breakdown of the upcoming season and why they’re an exciting team to watch.

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Why you should care

Before last season, which was cut short due to the pandemic, the 905 were holding an impressive five-year post-season streak. They won the top franchise of the year award in the 2019-20 season and claimed the G League championship in 2017. The 905’s goals are no different this year; their eyes are set on a championship.

Travon Bryant, an assistant coach to the team, believes this season is an opportunity to showcase what their player development program and team are all about. He said having a head coach like Patrick Mutombo, who won a championship with the Toronto Raptors in the 2019-20 season, brings in a championship pedigree that allows the organization to compete at a high level.

“I think the expectation is a championship,” Bryant said. “I think every team comes in with that expectation, but I think ours is realistic.”

The G League is a breeding ground for NBA level talent, and the Raptors 905 is renowned for its scouting and player development. Success stories include current Raptors Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Chris Boucher, as well as Gary Payton ll, who’s making a name for himself on the Golden State Warriors.

Other notable players traded or signed by other teams are Oshae Brissett, Jakob Poeltl, Delon Wright, and the beloved Raptor Norman “Playoff” Powell.

Bryant believes development isn’t a straight line to success and that there are multiple layers that you have to work with when training athletes. He said it’s important to recognize how each individual learns and develops.

“I think one of the most important things that we do here is that we compete in a competitive space all the time and that we make it as game-like as possible,” Bryant said.

Culture: What makes the Raptors 905 different

Culture is a constant theme anytime the 905 comes into the conversation. Whether we discuss the team, the coaching staff or even the organization itself, it’s clear that a hard-working culture is embedded into their identity.

Safia Hersi, the communications coordinator for the 905, shared her experience with the organization.

“The coaching staff on this team is second to none. Everyone is friendly, hard-working, and everyone is passionate. They want to win and make this organization the best it can possibly be,” Hersi said.

From every part of the organization, the most critical aspect is that everyone is always willing to help, she said.

The team has a long history of allowing players to develop their game and get the chance to get called up to the NBA. A new addition to the team, Reggie Perry, noted the differences between the 905 and other organizations.

“They demand that players play both sides of the ball, unlike a lot of other G League teams,” Perry said. “I can see why this program gets their players many call-ups into the NBA each year, and it’s because they ask that everybody plays unselfishly.”

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The new-look 905

New additions have arrived to bolster the Raptors 905’s roster this season; here are some notable ones to watch.

David Johnson, acquired with the No. 47 pick in the 2021 NBA draft, had an impressive sophomore season at Louisville. He averaged 12.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting 38.6 per cent from the 3-point line.

Justin Champagnie, who signed with the Raptors 905, is a two-way player who had an impressive season at Pitt, averaging 18.0 points and 11.1 rebounds.

Reggie Perry, a former five-star recruit who averaged 17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in his final year at Mississippi State, also appeared last season in the NBA 26 times for the Brooklyn Nets.

Antetokounmpo, Alex Antetokounmpo, to be exact. His older brother, Giannis, recently won an NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks and snagged a Finals MVP award and DPOY to cap off an incredible season.

While it might be too soon to look at Alex and expect the same level of success as his brother, he is coming off a year of competing professionally in Spain and has room to grow. Antetokounmpo is looking forward to improving all aspects of his game during his time with the 905.

“I think the fire that I have as a player comes from within me, and my brothers having a championship doesn’t really ignite that fire,” Antetokounmpo said when asked about his brothers’ success. “I’ve had that fire since I was young, but definitely, it’s a good wake-up call just to see people around you being successful and knowing that you’re so close to them and you could possibly do it yourself.”

Check out the upcoming schedule for the Showcase Cup, and make sure to tune in to the Raptors 905 season.

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Posted: Nov 18 2021 9:00 am
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