With a record 16 alums set to take the hardwood during this year’s NBA Finals, the Raptors tip the scales with nine of their own. Five players have donned the uniform of the affiliated Raptors 905, and as fellow NBA G League alum and two-time champion Nick Nurse continues to depend on players with minor league experience, it’s clear a coach like him values the necessary prep and seasoning each one received upon fine-tuning their game for the next level.
Here’s a look at what brought each player to this current stage.
Grind now, shine later. Such a phrase couldn’t be more fitting for Siakam, who has blossomed into a budding NBA star after suiting up for the Raptors 905. The big man flashed potential of what he could do at the next level, while leading his organization’s NBA G League affiliate to a title back in 2017. Averaging 18 points during that squad’s postseason run, the young gun went on to earn Finals MVP honors and has since gone on to play a similarly pivotal run for Toronto during this formidable run. With a sweet midrange jumper, fancy footwork, and lengthy frame to pester opponents on the defensive end, Siakam is quite the versatile talent.
As Siakam’s running mate with the 905 during that memorable title climb, VanVleet can also already call himself a champion, but he eyes additional hardware from the next level. After averaging 22 points and 11.5 assists during that Finals run, this floor general proved way back then that he can be trusted to come up in the clutch. After hitting 14 of his last 17 shots from downtown in the Eastern Conference Finals, VanVleet served as a spark off the bench and his team can only hope he continues to ride that momentum heading into the NBA Finals.
Boucher made history this season, becoming the first NBA G League player to win Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year in the same campaign. Averaging 27.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 4.1 blocks (while also shooting 32% from deep as a near seven-footer), the big man proved he can do it all. He can score, defend, crash the boards, and even knock down the occasional shot from deep. In an evolving league of various skill-sets, Boucher’s unicorn-like prowess was enough to convince the Raptors to convert his Two-Way contract into a standard pact. After clawing back from a harrowing college injury, Boucher has since put himself in position to succeed; this time on the cusp of an NBA title.
Before splashing onto the NBA scene as a global phenomenon, Lin’s journey began in the NBA G League. From teaming up with current Raptors mate Danny Green on the Reno Bighorns in 2010-11, to tallying a triple-double in his lone appearance with the Erie BayHawks just before “Linsanity” began, Lin has come a long way and his continued contributions in the NBA have made him a household name. In the midst of an already storied career, the floor general is seeking his first championship win.
Since averaging 24.9 points through eight assignment games with the Raptors 905 back in 2015-16, Powell has come to emerge as a reliable scorer off the bench in the NBA. He ranks first in 3PM off the bench (23) during this postseason. As Toronto continues to work players through the pipeline of minor league development, the swingman stands tall as one of the first up and comers to get seasoning through their affiliate system, and come out the other side as strong as ever. He’s been tremendous these last few weeks.
Green won an NBA title back in 2014 and has competed on the Finals stage multiple times. He knows what’s at stake. Now a trusted and formidable veteran, the sharpshooter donned three NBA G League uniforms before proving his worth in The Association. Green serves as the starting two-guard for Toronto, and his past championship experience will come in handy as his squad looks to stay grounded through this forthcoming matchup.
Speaking of past champions, McCaw won the big prize twice the last two seasons with Golden State. Heading into his third straight NBA Finals, he’ll do so as part of the challengers to his former team’s dominant streak. En route to honing his skills, McCaw played with the Santa Cruz Warriors as an assignment player during his two-year run with Golden State.
Miller is familiar with playoff competition, having just represented the Raptors 905 in the postseason. He averaged 11 points per game during that run and appeared in 13 regular contests as an assignee after joining Toronto midseason.
A double-double threat over multiple seasons in the NBA G League, Moreland is the kind of big man who can do the dirty work and push players to their limit, whether that means backing down his opponents or helping teammates stayed primed and ready by giving them a physical challenge in practice.