The Toronto Raptors last roster spot is likely to come down to a battle between guard Isaiah Taylor and forward Malcolm Miller and while one of them is coming off of injury and the other off a solid G League season, I believe that positional need will ultimately dictate the final decision.
The Toronto Raptors cut ties with Cameron Payne, Matt Morgan, and Devin Robinson, and still have two two-way contract slots and three NBA roster spots available. Those spots will be divvied up between Isaiah Taylor, Malcolm Miller, Oshae Brissett, Chris Boucher, and Dewan Hernandez. Obviously, Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri and co. will factor in preseason performance when making their decision but positional need will be a factor as well, leading us to how we believe their respective roster statuses will work out.
Through the preseason there wasn’t a ton of action for Taylor and this may be because, besides the fact that he is returning from a significant leg injury, the Raptors are perfectly comfortable with their guard rotation but are still searching for depth on the wing behind OG Anunoby. This is where players like Brissett and Miller gain an edge.
Over the preseason Miller played a total of 49 minutes vs Brissett’s 41. We saw Brissett flash much more playmaking prowess than Miller, racking up six assists and only two turnovers over his 41 minutes but that is where the advantages in favor of Brissett end.
Though a small sample size, Miller showed off the same inside-out scoring skills that he also flashed in the G League.
For the preseason Miller averaged 5.5 points, shooting 50-percent from the field and a scorching hot 41.7-percent from the 3-point line. While he would be unlikely to approach those percentages in even a limited role this season, he provides more of a seamless 3-and-D fit than Brissett, who still profiles as more of a traditional four.
Chris Boucher is probably a near-lock to make the team after winning the 2018-19 NBA G League Defensive Player of the Year and MVP last season. Boucher kept his momentum going, putting up 9.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and shooting 42.9-percent from the 3-point line.
The last player we mention of this group of end of roster Raptors is rookie Dewan Hernandez. He was signed using the Raptors’ Mid-Level Exception, so he is almost certainly going to make the full NBA roster.
Hernandez was a high-energy big man who made his mark on his games through rebounding, rim-running and blocking shots. If he receives playing time, Hernandez’s ability to use his athleticism for impressive finishes at the rim in pick-and-roll will fill a very specific role that is lacking outside of Siakam.
So with Boucher, Hernandez, and Miller—whose NBA G League career 3-point shooting numbers (38.3-percent) help his case—penciled in for the three full NBA roster spots for me, that leaves Brissett and Isaiah Taylor nabbing the two Two-Way contracts.
Taylor had a full year off from basketball following the stress fracture injury he suffered in his left leg and could use this time to get back into a good groove in the G League. Brissett simply needs to adjust to the speed of the professional game and develop into more than a one-dimensional scorer.
Ultimately, the way Hernandez was acquired tells us he’ll be around to stay, while Boucher has the pedigree and history with the Toronto Raptors franchise to suggest he will graduate to the NBA roster.
But Malcolm Miller is the player I believe should, without a doubt, receive the last full NBA roster spot. At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot wingspan, Miller fits right into the Raptors scheme as a long wing who can spot up from 3-point range and guard multiple positions and if needed, he could play spot minutes at either forward spot.