The Toronto Raptors are fully leaning in with regards to the idea of positionless basketball, as the selection of Scottie Barnes and trade for Precious Achiuwa shows that Masai Ujiri values length and athletic ability over traditional roles. That sounds like a team perfect for free agent Isaac Bonga.
After Bonga started off his career as an end-of-the-bench player for the Lakers before Los Angeles traded him to free up cap space for Anthony Davis, the German international turned himself into a very intriguing NBA player with the Washington Wizards.
Starting 49 games in 2019-20, Bonga started to emerge as a versatile defender with ball-handling skills. However, he started just eight games last year and the production fell off a cliff, leading Washington to move on without him. Toronto made sure that he wasn’t unemployed for long.
The Raptors are planning to sign Bonga, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Much like their deal with former first-round pick Sam Dekker, Bonga will likely have a chance to compete for a roster spot in camp.
Will Bonga’s unique style of play fit in well with the Raptors, or will other similar players beat him out and steal his playing time?
Could Isaac Bonga make the Toronto Raptors?
Bonga, listed at 6-8 and a very thin 180 pounds, averaged 5.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists during his best season with Washington in 2019-20.
While that doesn’t sound impressive, the 6-8 guard/forward hybrid was able to be a pest on the defensive end while making enough plays as a rebounder to be a solid asset on both ends of the floor.
Bonga has started to show that he can take the next step with the German national team during the Olympics, as the numbers he amassed in Tokyo would almost be career-bests across the board in the NBA. Considering how young he is, his best years bay me in the windshield, not the rear-view mirror.
One huge flaw in his game, however, is the fact that he is likely never going to be a high-volume scorer or generator of offense at the NBA level. Even when playing in an up-tempo scheme in Washington, his production on that end was scarce, almost like he was hesitant to take on any offensive responsibility.
A 44% shooter overall a 30% shooter from 3-point range, Bonga isn’t the most inefficient player in the world, and he still has time to grow, but his value lies almost entirely in defense and versatility.
With players like Dalano Banton and even Scottie Barnes, to a degree, all showing off the same versatility he has on the defensive end, it might be tough for Bonga to crack this rotation without major offensive improvement.
Bonga is not guaranteed much of anything with the Toronto Raptors, but he has had enough intriguing moments on film to warrant a very close examination. Bonga might have to compete with players of a very similar physical build for playing time, but his experience in the pros could give him an edge.