The Toronto Raptors had three draft selections in 2021, and two of them are having an impact on the team’s fortunes immediately. Lottery pick Scottie Barnes is garnering plenty of attention as a Rookie of the Year candidate, but one of Masai Ujiri’s second-round picks in Dalano Banton is proving that the second round is more than a crapshoot.
The Canadian guard from Rexdale and Nebraska alum has been impressive with his poise, hustle, and energy on the court. When he enters games, the team’s tempo picks up. He can be a versatile defender, help on the defensive glass, lead on the fastbreak, and finish off difficult looks inside.
Because he’s a tad raw, Banton is still developing and working on improving his 3-point shot. While he is a good passer, he tends to telegraph them at times, leading to turnovers. Even with some flaws, Banton has provided Toronto with the shot in the arm they needed off of the bench.
At 6-9, he is tall, athletic, and has a high basketball IQ. Before Thursday night’s road game in Utah, Banton was averaging 5.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game.
Earlier this season when asked about the lack of playing time for Banton’s backcourt teammate Malachi Flynn, head coach Nick Nurse chose to focus on the positives Banton brought to the table.
"“He’s the one you should probably be asking me about…He’s come out and played outstanding every minute he’s been out there and the offense gets really easy when he’s out there and he’s played like eight minutes a night. You should be all over me for not playing him more.”"
The Raptors don’t have a ton of second-round picks that have had the same success Banton has had out of the gate.
Dalano Banton is one of the best Toronto Raptors second-rounders.
In 1995, Toronto used its first-ever second-round selection on guard Jimmy King. He was a member of the Michigan Wolverines “Fab Five”. While former collegiate teammates Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, and former Raptor Jalen Rose had distinguished NBA careers, the same cannot be said of King.
In his rookie season, he played in 62 games as a Raptor. After a few more brief cameos, he was out of the NBA.
Perhaps the most prominent second-round pick the Raptors made was PJ Tucker, who was an NBA Champion in 2021 with the Bucks. He was selected No. 35 in 2007 by the Raptors.
His development into a “three and versatile D” type player happened away from Toronto, with him spending five seasons playing overseas before a return to the NBA with Phoenix in 2013. A trade during the 2016-17 season brought him back to Toronto for 24 games, but he soon signed with Houston as a free agent.
Norman Powell gets special consideration, as he was a second-round pick in 2016 of the Milwaukee Bucks. He was then dealt to Toronto with the pick that became OG Anunoby in exchange for Greivis Vasquez. Oops.
Powell developed into a consistent scoring threat off the bench before the March trade deadline when Toronto acquired Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood from Portland.
Other than those three, there’s not a ton worth writing home about.
Masai Ujiri nailed it when he brought Dalano Banton to the Toronto Raptors.
While Bryan Colangelo never got the developmental franchise in Toronto he always wanted, Ujiri saw it to fruition in 2015 with the creation of the Raptors 905. Since then, there has been a steady stream of basketball talent, including coaches and players, who have benefited from the development opportunities in Mississauga.
Banton is the latest player to be afforded this investment in the growth of his basketball acumen. Last week, he proceeded to suit up for 905 and score 30 points while distributing nine assists.
He would then dress for the Raptors Saturday night in their 127-121 loss at home to the Pistons, scoring 12 points, and adding two assists.
There will be growing pains with any young player, Banton included. However, the Raptors’ organization is a shining model of how to develop an organization’s young talent and build depth throughout your roster.
The hope is second-round pick David Johnson will have similar growth as Banton. In the meantime, the Raptors have proven that it is not so much when a player or where in a draft a player is selected but the commitment both from the team and player to improve that matters.