Raptors’ Fred VanVleet shouts out Dalano Banton after strong preseason

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 25: Dalano Banton #45 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 25: Dalano Banton #45 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have two vacant roster spits that four non-guaranteed players are fighting for, but one of them appears to have been firmly locked up by second-year dynamo Dalano Banton. Perhaps no player has improved more during the offseason than the Nebraska alum.

Rexdale’s native son is making his case to be the team’s backup point guard, trying to convince Nick Nurse that he is a better option than former first-round pick Malachi Flynn or an out-of-position Scottie Barnes. It is not for lack of trying if he doesn’t get that spot.

Banton has been a lightning bolt whenever he’s been on the court, using his unique frame and short-area quickness to cause havoc in transition. Starter Fred VanVleet is well aware of the fact that Banton has been putting in the work needed to get better this season.

“He just seems to be more comfortable with the reads, with the speed of the game,” VanVleet said, via TSN, of the 6-9 point guard. “He’s getting more comfortable with the jump shot, so it looks like a guy who has taken that step and feels like a guy that is ready to crack the rotation.”

Toronto Raptors PG Dalano Banton has been on fire in the preseason.

Banton has averaged 10.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game while shooting an insane 62% from the field. Only Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. have scored more in the postseason than him. Even without shooting very well from the perimeter, Banton has made an impact.

The guy we saw last year and the player the Raptors are watching in the 2022 preseason might as well be two completely different players. Banton looks more confident when slashing to the rim, and the boundless energy he provides remains a trait Toronto can, and should, exploit on a regular basis.

If Banton is now a somewhat viable offensive threat, even without a knockdown 3-ball, that might spell the end for Flynn’s tenure in Toronto. If the speedy 6-9 guard who was thought to be a defense-first work in progress has passed him by, Flynn might be excommunicated from the team’s plans.

Banton’s development has been extremely encouraging, as he’s clearly added a few new bells and whistles to his game while changing his mindset as a ball-handler. He may not be in the rotation just yet, but he’ll assuredly get some time if one of those ahead of him gets hurt.

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