The Toronto Raptors’ G League affiliate team, Raptors 905, has been one of the most successful organizations in the developmental league since its inaugural season in 2015.
The team won the top franchise of the year award for the 2019-20 season and won the G League championship in 2017. In their recently completed sixth season, Gary Payton II won the top defensive player award and Chad Sanders received the award for the top executive in the league. Furthermore, Henry Ellenson finished third in MVP voting and multiple players have been given 10-day contracts in the NBA over the last few weeks. The organization has experienced immense success over the last few seasons and is poised to continue that success in the future.
The team has also developed talent that has found success both at the G League level and in the NBA. On the Toronto Raptors current roster, Chris Boucher, Fred Vanvleet and Pascal Siakam all spent time with the 905. Other notable players include Oshae Brissett, Bruno Caboclo and Delon Wright.
The Raptors 905 alumni also includes a strong contingent of Canadian talent that has had the honour of playing for the only Canadian franchise in the G League. The list includes a number of players who went on to the NBA or inked lucrative contracts overseas in Europe. In total, 18 Canadians have been officially listed on the roster of the 905 over the past six seasons. Today, we will take a walk down memory lane and relive some of the experiences of notable former Canadian 905ers that perhaps you forgot played for the organization.
Anthony Bennett, Toronto, ON
Bennett was the first ever Canadian to be selected first overall in the NBA. Although his career in the association didn’t go to plan, no one can take away his place in Canadian basketball history. The Cleveland Cavaliers took Bennett with the first pick in 2013 before he went on to spend time with Minnesota, Toronto and Brooklyn.
Looking to rebuild his career in Toronto, Bennett signed with the Raptors in 2015. He only played four games with the Raptors 905, averaging over 9 points, and 19 games with the Toronto Raptors. His play was not enough to earn a place with the 905, or the big club, and he was waived in 2016. Although his time in Toronto was shortly lived, he did find other ways to wear the Canadian red and white. Bennett has represented Canada in national events like the Pan- Am Games and FIBA Americas, including a bronze medal at the FIBA Americup in 2015. Recently Bennett participated in the FIBA Americup 2022 Qualifiers and recorded 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots in Canada’s 95-93 victory over the U.S. Virgin Islands in late February.
With the strong cohort of Canadian players in the NBA, Bennett may be in tough to make the 2021 Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball roster, but he still has a lot of talent to contribute if/when his name is called.
Sim Bhullar, Toronto, ON
Standing at 7’5, it should not shock anyone that Bhullar can be a huge presence in the paint. He is one of tallest players to have ever suited up in the NBA and he created history as the first player of Indian descent to play in the league.
The Raptors 905 acquired Bhullar in October of 2015 and he played in 39 games for the organization. His 9.6 points and 7 rebounds per game were good enough to get the start most nights in the 905’s inaugural season.
Bhullar left the 905 for the Taiwanese Super Basketball League in 2016 and he remains in the same league to this day.
Tyler Ennis, Brampton, ON
Ennis’ comeback story with the 905 is a testament to the guard’s perseverance and love of basketball. After being drafted by the Suns 18th overall in 2014, Ennis played with multiple teams in the NBA, including the L.A. Lakers, where he had a career high 22 points in a game against Utah.
In late 2018, Ennis suffered a gruesome leg injury on a drive to the rim with his club Fenerbahce in Turkey. He broke his leg and had a metal rod inserted into his leg for stability. It was a long recovery, but at the end of it was an opportunity with the 905.
Ennis played excellently with the 905 in the 2019-20 season averaging 17.2 points and 7.5 assists. He was an important part of the team success and his veteran presence did not go unnoticed by the coaching staff. He certainly took the right step in returning to the form that resulted in him being drafted in the first round.
Unfortunately for Ennis, he tore his achilles in late 2020 during a Turkish league game with Turk Telecom and is currently still rehabbing from his latest injury.
Brady Heslip, Oakville, ON
Heslip won the G League championship with the 905 in 2017 and scored 5 points in 19 minutes of action in the deciding game. Jerry Stackhouse, head coach that season, loved Heslip’s shooting abilities and once said that with the game on the line, he would want Heslip to take the last shot. He played in 48 games during the 2016-17 season with the 905 and averaged over 16 points per game.
Heslip has seen action in the G League, NBA training camps, summer leagues and spent a decade with the Canadian national team. Heslip recently turned down offers to play in Turkey and France in order to pursue a career in business. He looks forward to pursuing the next chapter of his life in the business world.
Kaza Kajami-Keane, Ajax, ON
Kajami-Keane had a very successful University career winning two U Sports championships with the Carleton Ravens. The 905 held open tryouts for the 2017-18 season, and Kajami-Keane impressed head coach Jerry Stackhouse enough for a spot on the roster. He played in 43 games with the 905 in his first professional season and put up 6.6 points and 4.5 assists.
Kajami-Keane has gone on to a very solid international career in countries like Germany, Netherlands and most recently, France. He also got the call to play for the Canadian men’s national team in 2020. Kajami-Keane added nine points, nine assists and six rebounds in that late February FIBA Americup 2022 Qualifying game alongside Anthony Bennett in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Jama Mahlalela, Toronto, ON
Mahlalela was named the third coach in 905 team history for the start of the 2018-19 season. He began his tenure with the team in 2012 as a development coach before earning an assistant coach position for the 2016-17 season. Mahlalela became the first Canadian to coach at an NBA All-Star game when Toronto hosted the event in 2016.
Mahlalela is now back with the Toronto Raptors as an assistant coach after a 52-41 record with the 905 over two seasons.
Tamara Tatham, Toronto, ON
Tatham joined the 905 coaching staff in 2018 as a mentor coach under Mahlalela. With the hiring, she became the first Canadian woman to be hired as a coach on a North American men’s professional basketball team. At the time, her resume boasted two Olympic appearances and over 150 games played for Team Canada at the international level. She is also credited as helping to build the Canadian women’s national basketball team program over the last decade.
Tatham now serves as the Head Coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Toronto.
Even though the 905 have only existed for six seasons, the organization has achieved an immense amount of success and helped to develop a number of players who have found success in the NBA and in other countries. There are many Canadians who have played for their home country and surely consider their experiences with the 905 as integral to their overall success in basketball.
Written by Connor Lamont