As the Toronto Raptors try to answer some of the rotation questions that are lingering around this franchise, they are one step short of having open tryouts to figure out who is going to be the backup point guard behind Fred VanVleet. Second-year man Dalano Banton might be one of the favorites.
Banton was more impressive than most second-round picks, but the Rexdale native came into the season with some legitimate concerns about his offensive potential. Last year saw him lose rotation time due to poor shooting and a lack of confidence with the ball in his hands.
The Raptors and the second-year Nebraska alum decided that the best course of action would be to play for Team Canada in FIBA AmeriCup play. While the ball and rules are slightly different, Banton was without question the driving force on a Canada team that made a run into the later rounds. He even ended the competition with some silverware.
Banton was named one of the five best players of the tournament. Among him in this lineup were former Heat point guard Norris Cole, ex-Thunder wing and competition MVP Gabriel Deck, and recent Nuggets backup Facundo Campazzo. Banton was the only Canadian selected.
Toronto Raptors PG Dalano Banton was sensational.
Banton averaged 15.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game with Team Canada. Banton, who scored at least 16 points in four consecutive games, appeared to be completely in control on the offensive side of the ball. Toronto has to be thrilled with this showing.
In his first game against host nation Brazil, Banton recorded a double-double. This was followed by a competition-high 20 points against Colombia. While these teams may not have the next Michael Jordan on their roster, Banton proved that he was clearly a cut above the rest of the players in this competition.
Not everything was perfect, as he went 4-16 from the field in a semifinal loss against Brazil and scored just eight points in the third-place game against the USA. Having said that, the improvement that he’s shown from last year to this year was clear and obvious.
The Raptors are going to explore just about every possible angle in order to find VanVleet a backup, but Banton might be the most logical choice of the bunch. FIBA play is a far cry from the NBA, but it helped prove that Banton prioritized making his game more aggressive and more efficient.