The Toronto Raptors finally put an end to their training camp competition, as they invited six players with non-guaranteed contracts to compete for their final three roster spots. Sam Dekker, Yuta Watanabe, and Isaac Bonga made the final cut, while Ishmail Wainright, Freddie Gillespie, and Reggie Perry were cut.
With Yuta and Bonga cementing themselves early, the most intriguing competition was between Dekker and Wainright. While the former was a former first-round pick who helped Toronto win their final preseason game by unleashing a barrage of 3-pointers, the latter was a media darling who offered rebounding, toughness, and versatility.
This was ultimately a tough call given how both of them have looked, but Nick Nurse chose the taller, more experienced Dekker over a player in Wainright that doesn’t have an NBA game under his belt. Nurse explained the rationale behind this move, and it may have to do more with injuries than anything else.
Nurse claimed that the 6-8 Dekker offers more in terms of size than the 6-5 Wainright. In addition, Watanabe is struggling with an injury. With Watanabe, Chris Boucher, and Pascal Siakam all potentially out for the Raptors’ first game of the season, Dekker should, in Nurse’s eyes, be able to make up for those three absences.
Will Sam Dekker give the Toronto Raptors more frontcourt depth?
While his failures in Houston after getting picked in the first round have been well documented, Dekker appeared to revitalize himself by going to play overseas with Turk Telecom last season.
Dekker averaged 15.4 points per game in league play while making 45% of his 3-pointers. While he won’t be expected to hit those benchmarks in the NBA, this shows that he has improved his shooting enough to the point where he could help this team as a catch-and-shoot weapon should his name be called.
Dekker scored 18 points, making seven of his 10 shots and four of his five 3-pointers in the process, during a Raptors preseason win against the Washington Wizards, and that might’ve been enough to secure himself a spot. Unfortunately, despite Wainright showing an improved jump shot, the former Baylor star had to be squeezed out of the lineup.
Wainright might not have the height of a traditional power forward, but his bulk and high motor could’ve helped him hold his own in the post, particularly on defense. Likewise, Dekker is mostly suited to hanging out by the perimeter. Time will tell if Nurse made the right move here.
Wainright making the team would’ve seemed like something straight out of Hollywood considering all of the twists and turns he has had to go through in his young career. His play in Summer League and the preseason warranted inclusion.
Alas, Dekker was chosen for the final spot, as a team lacking in height and shooting adding the taller player and the better shooter of the two. From that point of view, it’s hard to fault Nurse’s logic.