One of the most interesting parts of the Toronto Raptors‘ preseason schedule was their decisions at the back-end of the roster, as players like Ishmail Wainright, Isaac Bonga, and Sam Dekker were fighting to snag one of the last remaining spots on the roster. Ultimately, the former Baylor star couldn’t make the cut.
Despite some nice performances in Summer League and the preseason, Toronto valued Bonga’s perimeter defense and Dekker’s 3-point shooting, and they made the tough decision to part with Wainright despite the fact the fanbase fell in love with his outgoing personality.
Wainright has plenty of value, as the 6-5, nearly 250-pound power forward can provide some tough interior defense with enough energy and hustle to be a problem on the perimeter. The Phoenix Suns seem to share that belief, as the Western Conference champions decided to make him a member of the squad.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski, Phoenix signed Wainright to fill one of their vacant two-way spots. With second-round pick David Johnson and undrafted standout Justin Champagnie occupying both of Toronto’s two-way contracts at the moment, Wainright was able to land on his feet in Phoenix.
The Suns signed former Toronto Raptors power forward Ishmail Wainright.
Suns fans are going to love Wainright and his story. A former defensive specialist at Baylor who tried to make a run at the NFL as a tight end with the Buffalo Bills, Wainright had to go overseas to prove himself. After a successful season in France, Wainright averaged 7.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game in Summer League play.
Wainright averaged 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in the preseason while making four of his eight 3-point attempts. This shows a gradual improvement on the offensive end. Phoenix has done a solid job at developing young bigs in the last couple of years, so Wainright landed in a good place.
While the defense is solid, his exhibition showings prove that he has really started to expand his game, as he is a much better 3-point shooter than he appeared to be in college or overseas. That could help him as he tries to crack the rotation in Phoenix.
While some Toronto Raptors fans didn’t like to see Wainright go, it’s hard to ask for a better landing spot than Phoenix. Not only will he get to stay in North America as he continues his basketball dreams, but he gets to do so on a team that will compete for a championship this season.