The Toronto Raptors' free agent mini-camp recently came to a close at the Air Canada Centre. 21 players were invited to try to show that they have staying power in the NBA. Among the hopefuls were a bounty of veterans who have bounced between professional leagues, a group of undrafted rookies looking to show some talent and a strong contingent of Canadian hoop dreamers.
GM Masai Ujiri is in a very unique and fortunate position this summer. He has just recently announced that the Raptors will get a D-League team of their own this year, which means that he needs to find a group of guys worth developing. At the mini-camp, many players showed real promise. Ujiri gets to take some risks with who he signs, in the hopes that he can find some previously unnoticed jewels.
Ujiri should take a chance on Philip Scrubb, one of the most NBA-comparable players to ever play Canadian Interuniversity Basketball (CIS). Scrubb is an absolute star, who could develop into a solid NBA player with enough time and practice. Luckily, the Raptors now have the resources to provide that sort of treatment.
Scrubb was dominant during his five years at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, leading the Ravens to five consecutive CIS National Championships. He earned three MVP trophies along the way, leaving his mark as one of the most skilled players to ever player CIS ball. His honours should not be taken lightly, considering how rapidly the league is improving to match its southern counterpart.
Scrubb already has the body and mind of a professional basketball player. He is a 6-3, 180 pound point guard with a great sense for the game. Where he lacks athleticism, he makes up for it with his impressive basketball I.Q. and his consistent work ethic.
He can do a lot on the court, but the quality that will most endear him to NBA teams is his proficient 3-point shooting. He shot 57% from long-range this season, scoring 16.2 points per game. He used his strong ball handling to cut and deke his way into space for open shots. In the NBA, that won't be nearly as easy, but at least he has a good base to learn from.
Scrubb won't be a game changer for the Raptors, but he could turn into a decent 3-and-D contributor in a few years. He is worth the risk, especially considering Ujiri has publicly said that he wants to sign a Canadian or two. Why not make history and sign Scrubb to a minimum contract. He would be the first CIS player to ever sign with an NBA team.
There has long been a stigma around the quality of CIS players. Regardless of its accuracy, Scrubb is a cut above the rest. He has shown the ability to consistently lead teams to victory, and he has done it the right way with strong effort and a good attitude.
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