The Toronto Raptors have signed several veteran players to non-guaranteed contracts with the aim of giving them a chance to compete for their spot in training camp. Two of the players in that group of vets looking to stick with Nick Nurse for 2020-21 include former first-round pick Sam Dekker and ex-Washington Wizards starter Isaac Bonga.
Both of these players will be fighting for spots with Toronto, but both of them took different paths to get here. While Bonga is a young player looking to show that his blend of defense and athleticism is enough to earn him another shot in the pros, Dekker is a first-round bust fresh off putting up some impressive numbers in Turkey.
The Raptors are also giving Ishmail Wainright this same treatment, though a very impressive performance on the defensive end in Summer League could help him secure one of the spots at the end of the bench. He may have a leg up on the competition.
Toronto might not be big enough for both Bonga and Dekker. If push comes to shove and Toronto only has enough room for one of them (assuming they are both performing at a similar clip), which player should they hold on to?
Will Isaac Bonga or Sam Dekker make the Toronto Raptors?
While Dekker was extremely impressive as a 3-point shooter during his time in Turkey, and we’ve seen countless NBA players become rotation standouts after going overseas to work on their game, he is just a few years removed from such a liability that some bad Cavaliers and Wizards teams decided against bringing him back.
With 5.5 points per game on offense, a 112 defensive rating over the course of his career, and the inability to defend more positions than a traditional power forward or oversized wing, Dekker’s value lies almost entirely in his shooting. Making 45% of his attempts from 3-point range is impressive, but will 28 Turkish league games convince the Raptors to keep him?
Bonga looked petrified on offense at times, as he averaged just 3.8 points per game in just under 16 minutes per contest with Washington in the last two years, but his value lies in the fact that he fits in with how Toronto wants to build a roster.
Eschewing pace and space for length and strength, Bonga has enough athletic ability and speed to defend guards and enough length to take on forwards due to his 6-8 height and 7-0 wingspan.
Both players will need to pay a visit to Toronto’s shot doctor, but Bonga will at least provide the Raptors with some standout defense while he works on his offensive game. The Raptors may get a shooter in Dekker, but they’ll add a ball-handler, defender, and high-motor youngster in Bonga.
If the Raptors can only take one, Bonga is the better choice.
He’s younger, a better defender, is more adept in a guard-like role, and has more recent NBA experience. After Wainright impressed in Vegas, Dekker may face long odds of making this roster.