The biggest, and perhaps most intriguing, unknown in camp is Wainwright, a 6-5, 250-pound force of nature. Fresh off a standout performance in FIBA’s AfroBasket tournament, the former Buffalo Bills signee will now get a crack at his hoops dream to see if he can reach the NBA.
Best Case Scenario
It ain’t going to be a game built around finesse that gets Wainright to the NBA, and the two-sport athlete knows it. The 27-year-old’s imposing build means that, even at a height that doesn’t measure up with most front-court players in the league, he will be able to hold his own on the interior.
And if he can find something of a bruising, physical mean streak, then all the better.
Wainright could be the punishing interior presence that Baynes was supposed to be last year. While the contributions of a Gillespie (who, incidentally, arrived at Baylor the year after Wainright graduated) or Bonga may be more subtle in nature, there will be no missing the well-traveled European pro’s production if he starts manhandling opposing bigs down low.
Will the Toronto Raptors give Ishmail Wainright minutes?
Worst Case Scenario
While Wainright’s physical dimensions and career path make him a player of intrigue, it’s unreasonable to expect the second coming of Shaq.
Prior to finishing fourth in rebounds and assists per game at Eurobasket (against a questionable level of competition), Wainright hadn’t exactly offered notable production across other pro stops.
Two years ago, he averaged 10.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, albeit while playing for Rasta Vechta in the second-tier German league. Before that, his senior year at Baylor resulted in a Big 12 All-Defensive Team nomination, but also season averages of 5.5 points and 5.1 rebounds.
In short, the Raptors know that Wainright is strong and carries an imposing frame, they just don’t know yet if he can contribute on offense at the NBA level.