A picture of Dowtin taking a shot to highlight Toronto raptors training camp battles back up point guard.

Toronto Raptors – Training Camp Battles at Back Up Point Guard

The Toronto Raptors Training Camp is two weeks away! Finally, we will be able to talk about some meaningful basketball. However, this off season as pretty exciting with all the trade talk and trades that were made. This year’s training camp should be one of the most competitive ever. There are a lot of players vying for a few open roster spots. There are other players vying for more playing time and others looking for time in the starting line up. I thought I would discuss some of these battles in a few articles and tell you where I think these players stand and their chances to make the roster. I will also mention which players will get more playing time this year.

I thought I would start with the battle to be the back up point guard. This makes sense because Fred Van Fleet is the starting point guard on the team. However, there is room for a good back up point guard to relieve Fred. And he really needs it, as he was at one point last season logging the most minutes in the NBA. They tried to alleviate the load by using Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes as back up point guards. And it worked to a degree. However, both of them were also logging heavy minutes at times. So, there is a definite need for a back up point guard and if someone can take this position, it will help the team immensely this year. So let’s look at the battle for back up point guard.

Toronto Raptors -Training Camp Battles Back Up Point Guard

Malachi Flynn – The former 1st round draft pick will be going into his third year. It would make sense that he would fill this role as that was the reason he was drafted. However, Flynn’s play has been up and down. At times he has shown his great skill set of getting into the paint, playing the pick and role and shooting from distance. However, he is not consistent and his play at times is erratic. Also, at times he is looking to score only and running the offense. This is hard for him as Flynn is more of a two guard in a point guard’s body. This can get him in trouble at times. As a result, Nick Nurse doesn’t trust his play and he spends a lot of time on the bench.

However, if he can hit the three point shot consistently and make good passes when he has to, he can be the back up point guard. The Raptors have invested a lot in him. As a result they want to give him another chance to shine. It is his job to lose. However, this is a make or break year for him. No more excuses!

Dalano Banton – The second year guard played well last year. He started off hot with beating out Flynn for the back up point guard minutes last year. However, teams figure him out and dared him to shoot which made him less effective. However, he played well in the G league last year and improved his shooting. He also shot well in this past summer league and looked pretty good in the Rico Hines runs.

Banton is the prototypical Raptor. He is about six foot eight and have an almost seven foot wing span. As a result, he can play multiple positions. He can change speeds with his dribbling and can also get to the rim. Banton has all the tools and will be playing minutes. However, if he wants to be the back up point guard, he needs to do two things. First, his improved shooting has to translate into the regular season. If it does, then he opens the floor up for his teammates and himself. Second, he needs to cut down on his turnovers. If he does those two things, you will be looking at the back up point guard.

Jeff Dowtin Jr. – I like to call him the dark horse in this competition. He joined the Raptors’ summer league team and quickly became the best Raptor player in summer league. As a result, the team gave him a two way contract for this year which will have him playing with the Raptors 905 and will have some games with the big club. However from his play, he wants to be part of the Raptors full time.

He is only about six foot four but but can create his own shot. His good handles helps him to get into the lane or to the basket. He also has a nice three point shot. And added bonus, is that he is not afraid of taking the big shot or making the big play when the team needs it. He did in the G league last year. He also did it for the Raptors in summer league. In the recent Rico Hines runs, Dowtin looked pretty good and even played some scrappy defense. However, for him to be the back up point guard right from the start, he would have to play even better and Banton and Flynn falter a bit. But you never know, there’s just something about Jeff Dowtin that makes me think that he has a shot.

Conclusion

The back up point guard position will be competitive. All of the above players will have to play well. If they don’t then we might be seeing a bit of a replay of last season with Siakam and Barnes taking back up point guard duties with perhaps also Thaddeus Young doing a little bit too. This would not be ideal but Nick Nurse, you need to perform. The Toronto Raptors training camp will be a dog fight. May the best man win!

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