The Toronto Raptors have assigned Norman Powell, Lucas Nogueira, and Bruno Caboclo to Raptors 905 of the D-League, the team announced.
The primary takeaway from this is that James Johnson, who was in a walking boot Thursday, is probably fine. The Raptors wouldn’t risk sending two wing options to the 905 with both DeMarre Carroll and Johnson out, as their lone natural wings would then be DeMar DeRozan and T.J. Ross. They’d also have just 10 healthy players and be committing to some funky lineups. So take the assignment of Powell and Caboclo as a positive.
It’s a bit surprising that the move came Friday instead of Thursday. The Raptors only had a practice Thursday, while the 905 were in Erie, just a three-hour drive away. Westchester, where they’ll play Friday, isn’t exactly Siberia, but I would have guessed the team would send players for both games, it at all, getting them run in a back-to-back. Perhaps they were unsure of Johnson’s status and were short on bodies for Thursday’s practice, or maybe they just wanted the 905 to extend their winning streak to a franchise-best three games without the aid of assignees.
The 905 play at 7 p.m., shortly before the Raptors tip off against the Miami Heat. They’ll then travel to Grand Rapids for a 4 p.m. tip on Sunday, right before the Raptors host the Clippers, though there’s plenty of opportunity to recall all or some of the players before that game if need be.
Caboclo’s assignment should almost always be expected, as he’s played in 19 of the team’s 26 games and seen just two minutes of NBA run. The choice between Powell, Nogueira, Delon Wright, and Anthony Bennett has been tougher to follow, as the organization’s worked to get all four development and conditioning time as the team’s rotation and schedule allows. Here’s a look at the assignment schedule so far this season:
Have trouble keeping track? That’s fine, I do too. The progress of each when on assignment has been tracked pretty closely around here, with Powell and Wright really standing out, Nogueira looking good if bored, and Bennett struggling.
I’m a little surprised Powell’s been assigned given Carroll’s absence, Johnson’s apparent status at somewhere less than 100 percent, and the Heat’s penchant to go with three wings. I’ve thought for some time that Powell should be getting a bit more run – he’s played 81 minutes in 17 appearances – but if the team doesn’t believe he can guard threes yet and they’re concerned about spacing, it’s understandable.
Nogueira, meanwhile, hasn’t been given meaningful run since Dec. 22, falling back well out of the rotation after an impressive December stint was cut short by an ankle injury. There are certain matchups where it would be nice to see him get some run, as he may be able to help boost the second-unit offense without much defensive slippage against stretchier opponents like Boston or Orlando. As it stands, he’s played just 113 minutes over 14 games, somehow leading the league in smiles provided during that time.
That leaves Wright and Bennett with the parent club. Wright could be used in two-point guard sets if the Raptors go small against a banged-up Heat squad Friday, but it’s unlikely he sees much time, having totaled 23 minutes over eight appearances and topping seven minutes as many times as you or I. Bennett, who’s played 58 minutes in 10 outings, could see spot minutes as an oversized three or at the four depending on how the game plays out, but again, it’s unlikely given how tight head coach Dwane Casey has kept the rotation.
We’ll have coverage of the Raptors game as usual, with the 905 recap coming a little later due to the games being played simultaneously.
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