The Toronto Raptors have multiple draft-day acquisitions to evaluate in Summer League. These three appear to have the best chance of making the squad.
The Toronto Raptors made their only selection in Thursday’s 2019 NBA Draft. With the 59th pick, they made Dewan Hernandez, a center out of the University of Miami, the newest member of the organization. Then, once the draft ended, they extended offers to a few undrafted prospects. None more important than Sagaba Konate and Lindell Wigginton.
The Raptors are clearly trying to make moves to ensure that they can defend their crown or at least be contenders for years to come. For a team already speculated to be interested in a former EuroLeague MVP, adding three young players gives them the benefit of depth and opportunity to find a diamond in the rough.
Will all of these prospects make the team? Probably not. However, Summer League will give the Raptors an up-close look at the newest additions.
Hernandez has an interesting path to the NBA, which includes being suspended for the entire 2018-2019 NCAA season over accepting a hotel room from an agent. He was deemed ineligible for 18-months for accepting under $500 in benefits.
After missing his Junior year, Bobby Webster and Masai Ujiri needed to rely upon what scouts observed of Hernandez’s sophomore season and his performance at the NBA G-League Combine.
The Toronto Raptors are taking some risk with the 22-year-old baller, though that gamble also means that they could see great rewards. Hernandez, according to his University of Miami basketball coach Jim Larranaga, is a character athlete. He described the former Hurricane favourably.
“He is so team oriented and cares so much about his teammates that he’s been on the bench at every home game, cheering like crazy. He’s been at every practice he’s been allowed to attend and working his tail off. He jumped in a car with a friend to drive all the way to Tallahassee at his own expense, and the only thing he was allowed to do was sit on our bench and cheer for his teammates, which he did. He made his own way, paid his own food, I think he stayed at a friend’s place. He’s made a lot of sacrifices.”
By joining the Raptors, Hernandez becomes their fourth option at center behind Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Chris Boucher, meaning Hernandez will probably not get the opportunity to perform for the big club for at least a year. Expect to see the 6’10” big man in Mississauga, playing for the Raptors 905.
This is an ideal spot for Hernandez who still has an incomplete game. He has been working at his outside shooting and adding range to an otherwise unimpressive jumper.
He has reportedly been working on a secret go-to move to add to his repertoire. He told a South Florida reporter, “When you see me play, next time you see me play, you’ll realize what my go-to move is.” He will also need to improve on his passing, which has been an identified weakness in his game.
Since Hernandez didn’t have the opportunity to play a full season of competitive ball, he will be able to use time in the G-League to get re-acclimated to the day-in and day-out grind of playing consistently.
The access to professional coaching with Raptors 905 should go a long way to getting Hernandez NBA ready. Jama Mahalala is the perfect person to prepare Hernandez to become a professional on and off the court. In his short time as the team’s head coach, he has already seen multiple players get the call up to the NBA.