The Toronto Raptors have a large chunk of their rotation already, but after the signing of Svi Mykhailiuk, it appears as if five players with partial guarantees will battle it out for three remaining NBA roster spots. One of those players looking to stick in the NBA is Ishmail Wainright, who is coming off of a very successful stint in France.
Wainright, who made his mark as a defensive stopper during his time at Baylor, is hoping that his tight end-like size at 6-5 and 250 pounds can help him stick with a Raptors team that very clearly values versatility and the ability to line up anywhere on the court and have success.
Wainright will be competing with 2020 holdover Yuta Watanabe, a pair of free-agent wing signings in Isaac Bonga and Sam Dekker, and a center that saw some minutes last year in Freddie Gillespie. Wainright’s direct competition will likely be Bonga and Dekker given the roles they could occupy.
Wainright has proven that he is worthy of holding on to a roster spot in Summer League and AfroBasket play. The Raptors would be making an egregious mistake if he is not a member of their roster during their regular-season debut against the Washington Wizards.
The Toronto Raptors must hold on to Ishmail Wainright.
Wainright averaged 7.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game while making 33% of his 3-point attempts. When you factor in a poor performance against Houston, those numbers look even better. A Ugandan international player, Wainright put in some impressive games with his country.
Wainright was able to average close to a triple-double, as he averaged 12.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game during his time with Uganda in AfroBakset play. He might not be guarding the second coming of Magic Johnson, but he looks more composed and efficient on offense, which was his biggest flaw coming into the NBA.
Wainright could be a smaller power forward that bullies bigs in the paint of a perimeter player that is way too strong for slippery guards to navigate past. While he may never be a high-level shot-creator in the NBA, the fact he’s made strides as a shooter and passer is exactly what Toronto wanted to see.
Wainright’s road to the NBA is a tremendous triumph of the human spirit, as after failing to make the NFL and bouncing around Europe, he landed on a team that is perfectly equipped for how Wainright wants to play. Masai Ujiri and Nick Nurse need to save a seat on the bench for Wainright.