Nick Nurse is “completely confident” in the development of Dalano Banton as a shooter

On paper, Scottie Barnes’ transformation into a three-point shooter seemed to happen overnight. In just 21 games, the Toronto Raptors rookie has gone from being the kind of player who would go from a wide open three-pointers to a three-point shooter, ready to let him fly from behind the arc almost without hesitation. But, behind the scenes, work has been endless for Barnes since the Raptors first got their hands on him after the NBA Draft last July.

“We certainly encouraged him to [shoot threes] – all the coaches, the coaching staff, I give them a lot of credit, ”Raptors coach Nick Nurse said after practice on Saturday. “It always comes down to the players. They always come in in the morning, come in at night, they come in and do double or double what we ask them to do, and then it’s their switch that finally turns on, so go ahead and do it. So give him the credit for it.

From the start, the Raptors were convinced that fine-tuning Barnes’ mechanics wouldn’t be much of a problem. It was a few small things, Nurse said at the time, nothing was “broken.”

With Dalano Banton, however, Toronto knew the change wasn’t about to tip right away. His shot was going to take some time to work.

Much like Barnes, Banton was a college non-marksman. He averaged two three-point attempts per game over his two college seasons and shot 23.7% from behind the arc. The difference between the two, Nurse said, was their mechanics. Barnes’ shot was not far away. Banton was.

But Nurse and the Raptors aren’t the type to back down from a challenge. Instead, they challenged the second-round pick to keep shooting. That’s why Toronto assigned Banton to the G League on Saturday, where he played in 36 minutes with the 905 Raptors and attempted eight three-pointers. Sure, 2 for 8 isn’t very good, but it’s the fact that he takes the punches the Raptors are focused on.

“He did everything really well,” Nurse said. “He’s going to get there. Like, I’m totally confident he’s going to get there and it’s just a matter of how fast we can speed up the process.

This is why this back and forth between the 905 and the big club will continue for Banton who saw his minutes switch during his first 23 NBA games. The Raptors try to get him as many minutes, as many reps, and as many shots as he can as he tries to get a feel for the adjustments they’ve made to his shot.

Will it work?

Well, just look at Nurse’s track record, not only with Barnes, but also top to bottom in Toronto’s list. From Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet to former Raptors like Norman Powell who entered the league with major question marks over development. Ultimately, it was that journey between the G League and the big club, a ton of hard work and a dedicated development organization that made it all work.

So if Nurse goes out of his way to say he’s confident Banton’s shooting will develop, it’s hard not to believe him.


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