Isaac Bonga leaves Toronto Raptors, NBA to return to Europe

Oct 4, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Isaac Bonga (17) Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 4, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Isaac Bonga (17) Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

As good as the Toronto Raptors are when it comes to developing NBA talent, there are a few players who never end up reaching their full potential. Isaac Bonga, who has bounced around the league plenty over the last few years, never seemed to get in a groove with the Raptors.

Still just 22 years old, Bonga has already been passed around between the Lakers and Washington Wizards in his career. A stringy, high-energy 6-8 guard who has shown he can be an excellent defender in the NBA, Bonga seemed ideal for the Nick Nurse developmental pipeline.

Unfortunately, Bonga’s offensive game has never really come around. This lack of progression has been so jarring that he has decided to return to his native Germany for the upcoming season rather than try to stick on the back end of an NBA roster.

Bonga signed with Bayern Munich on a deal that lasts until 2024. Perhaps the best way for Bonga, who was never really considered a threat to take up one of Toronto’s open training camp spots, to go about sticking in the NBA long-term is by putting up impressive numbers in Europe.

Toronto Raptors: Isaac Bonga has left the NBA.

Bonga started 57 games over his two years in Washington, averaging 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds with some nice defense. In Toronto, Bonga averaged just 0.8 points per game and only averaged 4.6 minutes on the floor in 15 games. He was a complete non-factor. 

Bonga has shot just 35% from the field in the last two years, showing that whatever offensive growth he may have had has completely plateaued. It’s fair to wonder if Bonga will ever score at a level commiserate with someone who makes an impact in the NBA.

Bonga did have some nice performances for the German national team in the 2021 offseason, so there is still a well a talent that can be mined by a team that is patient enough to deal with him. Toronto needed to use their roster space on someone who may help them in their quest to compete.

The Raptors rolled the dice on Bonga, but it just didn’t seem like he arrived in Toronto at the right time. Perhaps getting his confidence up against inferior competition in Germany could eventually create a springboard he could use to return to the NBA.

At least Bayern will have better title chances as a result of this move.

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