Thursday was a good night for the Raptors’ organization. Not only did the NBA squad pull out a Game 6 victory in Milwaukee to make it through to the second round, but Toronto’s D-League affiliate, Raptors 905, won its first NBADL championship.
The Raptors’ affiliate dropped the first game of the D-League’s best-of-three Finals to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ NBADL team, on Sunday. However, the club bounced back with a win on Tuesday and a resounding 122-96 victory on Thursday night to clinch the series.
While many of the contributors to the championship roster aren’t under contract with the Raptors, former first-round picks Bruno Caboclo and Pascal Siakam played major roles in the team’s postseason run, as did undrafted rookie Fred VanVleet. The trio combined for 76 points on Tuesday, with Caboclo (31 points, 11 rebounds) and VanVleet (28 points, 14 assists) leading the way. All three players remain under team control for the Raptors through at least next season.
While D-League excellence doesn’t necessarily translate to NBA success, the development of their young players is certainly a positive sign for the Raptors, who could be at risk of losing NBA rotation pieces this summer — Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker, and Patrick Patterson will all be eligible for free agency, and re-signing them would likely take Toronto deep into luxury-tax territory.
Meanwhile, the championship win is another major step forward for Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse, who was named the D-League’s Coach of the Year last week. Stackhouse will be looking to join the NBA’s head coaching ranks at some point, and his first-year performance for Toronto’s affiliate will look pretty good on his résumé.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the Raptors’ affiliate figures to officially go down as the last D-League champion in league history. Starting next season, the NBADL will be re-branded as the NBAGL — the NBA Gatorade League.