The Toronto Raptors bringing in several NBA newbies with the intention of seeing if one of them can claw out a spot in the rotation, and former Baylor forward Ishmail Wainright has made a convincing case to the front office given his style of play. The Raptors will get a few more chances to observe his game in AfroBasket play.
Wainright, who joined the Raptors after his Bears career and failed NFL tryout with the Bills lead him to France, is a member of team Uganda, who will try to earn some hardware against Anas Mahmoud’s Egypt and a Nigeria squad playing without new Toronto center Precious Achiuwa.
Wainright isn’t the only player on a minimally guaranteed contract competing for a spot on the roster, as the likes of Isaac Bonga, Sam Dekker, and Freddie Gillespie will be trying to squeeze out a spot alongside Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes this season.
While there’s a considerable gap between today and Toronto’s preseason action, Wainright could end up making a name for himself with the Ugandan team. While he may not go up against a ton of NBA players, and Uganda is fresh off getting beaten handily by title contenders Senegal, that shouldn’t dampen the excitement around him.
Ishmail Wainright could impress the Toronto Raptors with Uganda.
While Wainright made just 36% of his shots and 33% of his 3-point attempts in Vegas, one game in which he went 1-10 brought his averages down. He was one of the best raptors players from a plus-minus perspective, as his 6-5 frame paired with a stocky 250-pound body made him one of the more unique physical talents in the competition.
Wainright has already scored 36 points in a game for Uganda against Cape Verde. The Raptors liked what they saw from him as a passer, defender, rebounder, and screen-setter. Becoming a scorer and generator of offense, even in this competition, could be what Toronto needs to see to keep him around.
Wainright has two games left, at minimum, to show off how far he’s come, as he takes on Cameroon on Friday morning and South Sudan on Sunday. With Wainright in line for tons of offensive responsibility, it’s time to see what strides he has made as a ball-handler, shooter, and finisher.
Dekker is coming off a solid season in Turkey, Bonga has years of proven NBA experience as a defender, and Gillespie had some moments in the regular season. Wainright’s defense might not be enough to guarantee him a roster spot, but when paired with an expanding offensive game, Wainright could end up on top of that heap.