Toronto Raptors 905: Wade Baldwin deserves an NBA contract

Portland Trailblazer - Wade Baldwin (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Portland Trailblazer - Wade Baldwin (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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With an open roster spot available, the Toronto Raptors should sign Raptors 905 standout, Wade Baldwin, to an NBA contract.

Wade Baldwin IV is too good for the G-League. The 22-year old prospect has played just three games with the Toronto Raptors 905, and in that time, he has already shown enough to earn an NBA contract.

In his three games with the  905, Baldwin is averaging 26 points, five rebounds, and four assists. He’s shooting extremely efficient from the field and from three while also playing elite defense.

Rather than allowing him to be scooped up by another team with an open roster spot available, the Toronto Raptors should move quickly and offer Wade Baldwin an NBA deal.

After opting not to re-sign veteran sharpshooter Jodie Meeks, the Raptors have two roster spots available. While one spot will likely remain vacant for at least a month for tax-saving purposes, the other must be filled in the next 12 days. Rather than wasting the space on an experienced veteran who isn’t going to play, Toronto should take a flyer on Wade Baldwin.

NBA Skillset

A former first-round pick, Baldwin has the raw tools to play in the NBA.

6’4″ with a monster 6’10” wingspan, Baldwin can guard either backcourt position comfortably. He’s more of a vertical athlete than a lateral one but is agile and long enough to handle all but the elite level guards defensively.

Offensively, Baldwin’s game still needs refinement. His handle is sloppy, his court vision is below average for a lead guard, and he doesn’t have much shot creation in the half court. However, in short flashes, he’s shown the potential to develop into a difference maker.

He’s an explosive athlete and a force in transition. Baldwin attacks the rim with a tenacity reminiscent of the top guards in the league. When the floor is spaced, and defenders aren’t set, he’s found success scoring around the basket. Finding the right time to attack the hoop has been more elusive. Baldwin will need to be taught when to push and when to pull it back, particularly against higher level competition.

The aforementioned areas of his offensive game are important, but Baldwin’s NBA future more or less comes down to his three-point shot. In college, he shot greater than 40-percent on 199 attempts. In the NBA and G-League, he’s shot a combined 54-190 (28.4-percent).

It sounds simplified, but if Baldwin can hit 35+ percent from three, he’ll probably make it. If he shoots in the low 30s or worse, he’ll end up in Europe.

Low-risk, high reward

The Raptors need to fill their 14th roster spot sometime over the next week-and-a-half. Conventional wisdom would use that spot to bring in an experienced veteran like Marcin Gortat or Jodie Meeks to “prepare for the playoffs.”

Masai Ujiri doesn’t need to follow conventional wisdom. Jodie Meeks/Marcin Gortat are not playing in an NBA playoff series. Toronto has five bench perimeter players that would make the court before Meeks, and at this point in the season, Pascal Siakam has become the Raptors third string center.

Toronto would cut the rotation in half before playing Meeks/Gortat. Their presence would merely be in a Kendrick Perkins-esq role.

Instead, Toronto should offer Baldwin a two-year contract, non-guaranteed in the second year, similar to what they did with Chris Boucher and Malcolm Miller.  If Baldwin shows the ability to be an NBA player, you have him on a minimum contract. If he doesn’t, you can cut him for no cost.

Next. Key February Stats and numbers for the Raptors. dark

The potential value Baldwin offers the Raptors is greater than any veteran still available on the free-agent market.