Raptors: Dalano Banton earned rotation time after Summer League

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 08: Dalano Banton #45 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 08: Dalano Banton #45 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors decided to use their 2021 NBA Draft picks to select versatile players, placing a premium on wingspan, defensive intensity, and ball-handling. That philosophy not only led to the selection of Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 overall pick, but it also helped the front office settle on Dalano Banton with the No. 46 selection.

Banton, a Rexdale native who made his name at Nebraska following a transfer away from Western Kentucky, is a bit raw on the offensive end, but with guard-like skills in a 6-9 package, Toronto liked him enough to make him the first Canadian player ever drafted by the squad.

Banton has been one of the more impressive players for the Raptors during their Summer League stint, as his ability to lock in on defense and make plays in transition has been a huge reason why Toronto has looked as sharp as they have.

Banton might be suited for an end-of-the-bench responsibility during his first pro season, but based on how he has played in Vegas, Nick Nurse should feel more than confident with putting him out on the floor. The Raptors drafted Banton with the intent of developing him into a perimeter stopper, and he appears to be well on his way.

The Raptors need to put Dalano Banton in the rotation.

On a Raptors team clearly eschewing traditional position labels, Banton offers the ball-handling needed to play like a traditional guard and the wingspan to play on the wing. After averaging 2.0 steals and 1.5 blocks per game in his first four Summer League games, Banton’s defensive chops have proven to be excellent for his age.

On the offensive side, Banton looks to be in control of the game with the ball in his hands, setting up teammates with easy looks. Even if he isn’t a dynamic scorer in his rookie season, being able to impact the game by making crisp passes and keeping the ball moving could convince Nurse to give him some run in the rotation.

Banton and Yuta Watanabe aren’t all that dissimilar when they were coming out of college, though Yuta might be a slightly better shooter. Their energy and hustle on the defensive end will be their meal ticket, and Banton has proven that he is perhaps a bit more refined as a prospect than Toronto believed when they drafted him.

Of course, Banton shot just 37% from the field, showing that the offensive concerns that followed him from Lincoln are still very much here.

The jump from Summer League to the NBA is as cavernous as the Grand Canyon, but if the Raptors want to run a true meritocracy, Banton has earned some minutes near the end of games. Once Nurse works his jump shot magic on him, we could see Banton as a trusted reserve for years to come.

Next. 3 reasons to love the Barnes pick. dark