With Lorenzo Brown joining the Big Raptors, we shift our focus to 6’8 forward Alfonzo McKinnie. McKinnie went undrafted in 2015, then spent a year with the East Side Pirates in Luxembourg. After that, he PAID $150 to try out for the Windy City Bulls of the G-League.
You might say the investment paid off.
Mckinnie made the team, averaged 14.9 points, became an All Star, and in 2016, signed a $800,000+ deal with the Raptors.
McKinnie’s been sent down to the 905 three times already this season. I watched him up close on Saturday for the first time and tried to get a sense of why he hasn’t nailed down a spot in the pros. Keeping in mind this is a one game sample, there were signs of brilliance and deficiency.
Good sign – he’s an athletic freak. Outside of a vicious put back and skying over a defender for an alley oop, McKinnie’s most impressive play actually came on a rebound. Bruno Caboclo’s three hit the rim, bounced straight up, and with multiple defenders around him, McKinnie burst into the air from a standing position, snatching the ball from a ridiculously high perch. The casual fan usually isn’t awed by a board, but the ‘Sauga City (that’s what they call Mississauga these days) faithful were left gasping.
Here’s the rebound:
More good – McKinnie has a tight handle, and he was eager to show it off. Again – one game sample – but not many plays were called for McKinnie, so when he did get the ball, he was going to try to make a play. He got to the rim a number of times on isolation drives from the elbow, hitting a couple layups, and missing one as well. 18 points on 7-for-16 with 8 rebounds just a day after playing 3 minutes in the NBA is pretty impressive.
But while the aggressiveness and strong finishing is encouraging, McKinnie seemed reticent to take the outside shot. The box score has him attempting four threes, but I only counted one – a rushed shot from the corner that rimmed out. (I’m guessing the real number is somewhere in the middle.) Either way, if McKinnie wants to stick with the Raptors Big Club he’ll have to improve from distance, as he only shot 31% from deep last season with Windy City, and the Raptors now attempt (approximately) 384 threes per game.
Defensively McKinnie seems like today’s prototypical NBAer. Great lateral quickness, and the perfect size for guarding positions 1-thru-4. Again, one game sample, but McKinnie displayed incredible help-defence IQ (that’s a term now). He did a great job anticipating when the driver was going to go up, contesting the shot, and he also sensed when the driver was going to pass off, quickly recovering to his man. McKinnie finished with two steals, one from a great swipe as the help defender.
McKinnie’s on-ball defence was fine, although he did have some trouble negotiating some screen-and-rolls, committing a couple ill-advised fouls.
After one game I feel comfortable concluding nothing except that McKinnie is a gazelle. I’ll be back in Mississauga for Monday’s game against Greensboro in hopes of providing a clearer picture of a player seemingly inches from a firm spot in the Pro’s.