Raptors rewarding Jeff Dowtin for breakout 2022 is the right move

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - APRIL 02: Jeff Dowtin Jr. #20 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - APRIL 02: Jeff Dowtin Jr. #20 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

When Jeff Dowtin first made an appearance on the Toronto Raptors’ Summer League roster last season, very few fans knew what to think of him. Would a 6-3 guard who has ping-ponged around between multiple different NBA franchises have any hope of contributing to the Raptors?

Following some electric moments in Summer League, the Raptors signed Dowtin to a two-way contract. He quickly outperformed that contract, muscling his way into the Toronto rotation. Even more established guards were unable to keep Dowtin off the floor. He was deserving of that final roster spot.

Even though Masai Ujiri drafted Malachi Flynn and Dalano Banton (who is now in Boston), Dowtin managed to outplay both of them and earn rotation minutes over them late in the season. He took his Summer League momentum and turned it into a catalyst for success with the Raptors.

The Raptors gave him the NBA contract he deserved after months of waiting, signing him to a standard Raptors non-guaranteed deal with a lump sum of cash coming his way if he is on the opening day roster. All signs point to him cashing that check and sporting his No. 20 for Toronto next season.

The Toronto Raptors retained point guard Jeff Dowtin.

Dowtin, who had offseason ankle surgery, may not be the best scorer, but he’s shown enough speed with the ball in his hands and playmaking instincts to carve out a role with Toronto this season and future ones. The fact that the Raptors chose not to give him this exact deal right before their brief postseason run boggles the mind.

While the per-game production was far from jaw-dropping, the fact that he was able to hold his own on the defensive end without the inefficiency of Flynn or the hesitant trigger finger of Banton made him one of the better bench players on a much-maligned unit.

Dowtin will need to make sure that his jumper can reach the ranks of respectability before Toronto even considers making him a consistent rotation presence. He must also prove himself to an entirely new coaching staff, as Darko Rajakovic may not like him like Nick Nurse did.

The Raptors have prided themselves on finding diamonds in the rough and turning them into rotation players. Dowtin is far from being their next Fred VanVleet, but he has already overcome incredible odds and showed to the rest of the league that he belongs.

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