While an improved jump shot and basketball IQ are integral to Dalano Banton's NBA progression, showing he is capable of understanding and thriving in Nick Nurse's defence will power his minutes next season. Full podcast looking at most improved candidates and game-changing skill additions is on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed and on our YouTube channel.
AMIT MANN: If he is able to make himself a rotation player on the Toronto Raptors next season, I think that would be an amazing accomplishment for him at this point of where he is. Also based on the Raptors, the depth that they now have coming off that bench-- Thad Young-- Otto Porter, Jr. is going to be terrific-- Chris Boucher-- Precious Achiuwa, of course.
So that's nine players right there. If Delano Banton is able to get himself in that mix and is able to show off some consistency, I've talked a lot about the offensive side of things with him. But truly, I think defensively is where he's going to be able to make his mark and to really separate himself. He is a 6' 9" gazelle, OK? There is no one off the bench that is able to do what he's able to do, the amount of positions he's able to cover, how quickly can do it.
It's really going to come down to just how good is he going to be able to be at the Raptors' system? The trapping, the hedging, the stunting recovering, the filling the gaps-- is he able to do that at the level that the starters are able to do it? I got into a rabbit hole of watching the Raptors 2019-20 defense and how good it was.
And myself and along with others were-- maybe we were unfairly criticizing Nick Nurse for the defense earlier on in the season. We were probably thinking that maybe they should simplify the defense, so that way, everyone's going to be able to keep up a little bit better. But I think maybe he had it spot on the whole time, that you get up to this level. And if you don't, then you're not going to play. And that's why we saw the Raptors run out five, six players a lot.
But that is the level you have to get to. It is demanding. It is taxing. It's like the reads you got to make on the fly-- you have 0.0 negative two seconds to make some of the decisions that the Raptors are asking you to do. But OG does it. Pascal does it. Fred does it. Scottie is learning about it, but even he's not there yet. If Dalano's able to do it, that helps their defense so much. And now they can actually have a bit more fun with their bench unit.
And he could maybe be a bit more on ball as a creator. But at the moment, him getting down those defensive principles is going to be such a game changer for what he's able to do this season. Offense comes and goes, right? We know this. It comes and goes. You make shots. You miss shots. All that. But defense, that is where he's going to make his mark this season.
KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, I love watching Dalano just for what you said in terms of him just being this gazelle esque player-- just the energy that he brings, the length, the ability to just be everywhere all at once. Like, the key thing for him is really just slowing his game down and learning when to unleash those more unwieldy qualities of his game and kind of ration them out because when you're just firing on all cylinders like that, you get into trouble. And that is where he gets ahead of himself.
So I think if he's able to harness that, as you said, and get into those specifics of the Raptor system, like the trapping and the hedging, I think, yeah, he'll be so much fun. I like that you mentioned he could be the leader of another bench unit. We'll never see the likes of the Bench Mob again, but there could be its own Bench Mob 2.0 or whatever we want to call it. He would be such a good leader of that group.
AMIT MANN: What makes a Pascal and Fred and OG so unique is that they're able to quiet their minds on one end of the court for the offensive side and just make quick decisions and read things and slow it down. But then on defense, they are pedal to the metal because you have to be. And we're asking Delano to do, essentially, the same thing. Calm your mind on offense, but on defense, you have to be go, go, go, go, go.
You've got to be able to capitalize it because if once-- as soon as one person makes a mistake, that slinky defense goes away. And now that's where we're seeing the really big holes and the open corner 3's and that kind of stuff. That's where it happens. That's not how the Raptor system is supposed to be. Sure, they want to allow corner 3's, but they want to allow corner 3's or 3-point shots from certain players based on the percentages.
And if you're not able to understand that, if you're not making those quick decisions on the fly, then things break down. The system breaks down. So if he's able to do it, he's got a better opportunity to do it than, probably, anyone else who could be trying to enter the rotation just simply because, like I said, he is a 6' 9" gazelle. He can make up for a lot of things that other players can't because he already has those natural gifts. Hoo, boy. He's going to be good. I think he'll be fine. It may not happen this season.
KATIE HEINDL: He is good, and he has gotten a lot better. That's something that we should clarify too, right? It's a lot to put on any young player in his position, to pick up all the stuff at once, especially with him. Like, there are some teams where young players in Dalano's position are just able to work on one thing. But he's being asked to work on everything. That's just the nature of the Raptor system. And that's why players become so good, but it is a lot to put on them at once. And I think he's really handled that stress and the challenge of it well.
AMIT MANN: Sure. It's always tough when you go into a team that has high expectations. Think of Kuminga Wiseman-- those kinds of guys in Golden State. They were brought into a system that was expecting championships. And now you're being asked to be part of that. It's like, wait, but I'm a rookie. I just got here. But no, we want you to get here. So that's always a challenging task for any player.
But, I mean, Delano-- even if he doesn't become that player this upcoming season, it's still OK because the Raptors still have-- like we already said, they're already going to be going nine deep anyways. And they already have, like, three, four bajillion point guards with Pascal and Scottie and Fred and so forth. So they're going to be OK, but it would be a great accomplishment for him to be able to enter that rotation.
KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, absolutely.