Canadian Andrew Nembhard offers value, versatility for Raptors

March 8, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Andrew Nembhard (3) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
March 8, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Andrew Nembhard (3) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Raptors made history when they finally used a draft pick on a Canadian-born player in Nebraska point guard Dalano Banton. Masai Ujiri could make it two years in a row with some new players from up north by adding Andrew Nembhard after a solid season with Gonzaga.

Nembhard, an Aurora native who started his college career at Florida, made the right decision to head up to Spokane for his junior and senior years. Nembhard confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a quality professional prospect who could be a rotational player during his first year in the NBA.

The Raptors could prioritize the point guard position given the general disappointment surrounding Malachi Flynn and his performance. Finding a replacement might seem more challenging than it looks, as they will need to find someone that hits in with what Toronto wants to do from a schematic standpoint.

While he’s not exactly the second coming of Magic Johnson, Nembhard is a big guard with defensive potential and exceptional passing ability. The Raptors could go in several different directions with the No. 33 overall pick, and adding Nembhard could make a ton of sense.

Andrew Nembhard could help the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Draft.

The 6-5 Nembhard averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game on 45/38/87 shooting splits. Future pros Chet Holmgren and Drew Timme dominated the ball, yet Nembhard was able to become a quality scorer while still filling his role as a pass-first offensive orchestrator.

Nembhard is a top defender with intelligence and a high motor helping create turnovers. While the term “3-and-D” often gets applied to stringy wing players, Nembhard can check both of those boxes while flexing his insane passing instincts. Imagine Banton with a smoother 3-point shot and more passing acumen.

Nembhard is not the best athlete in terms of explosion and lateral quickness, which might turn off a Raptors organization that has used some of their best draft picks on raw players with high athletic ceilings. Nembhard has some mechanical flaws in his shot that may need to be corrected upon his arrival in the pros.

While Banton could be an intriguing defensive piece, Nembhard can be more effective on both ends while strengthening the Raptors’ connection to Canada. Toronto will need to resist the urge to spend money on a point guard in free agency to free up a hole for Nembhard to fill upon his return to Ontario.

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