After a long summer filled with huge free agency signings, plenty of FIBA tournaments and enough political stories to make anybody’s head spin, basketball season is basically already here. Although we’re a little more than a month away until the NBA regular season starts on October 25th, next week marks the start of both training camp and preseason. While NBA preseason or training camp don’t get the same kind of attention as, say the NFL, it’s still an extremely important time for dozens of players looking to make their hoop dreams come true.
A great example of that is seen with the Toronto Raptors, who will bringing in a diverse set of free agent players for training camp. That crop of talent include former college superstars (Jarrod Uthoff and Fred VanVleet), D-League All-Stars (Vince Hunter), young journeymen (E.J Singler and Drew Crawford), a relative unknown (Yanick Moreira and a home-town hero (Brady Heslip).
At least in terms of the Toronto Raptors, Heslip is probably the most intriguing player on that list. A lot of that intrigue is due to two separate factors: his connection to Canada and his stellar outside jumper. Even before graduating from Baylor, Heslip has been a part of the Canadian National Basketball Team. Just last year, Heslip played a major role in helping Canada overtake Team USA and get a silver medal in the 2015 Pan American Games. During that tournament, Heslip shined by putting up 13 points on 44% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc.
That perimeter performance seems pedestrian to how Heslip is usually like. Since he first stepped foot in Baylor, Heslip has continued to shine as an unbelievably efficient perimeter shooter. That stint at Baylor is actually a terrific jumping off point to describe how fantastic Heslip is from beyond the arc. Shooting 43% from beyond the arc at Baylor, Heslip stands as the 33rd most efficient shooter in NCAA history.
Despite that efficiency, Heslip was overlooked when it came time for the 2014 NBA Draft. That was mainly due to Heslip standing as a “one-trick pony” by only being known for his shooting and no other skill. That stigma ultimately pushed Heslip to going undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Following the disappointed of going undrafted, Heslip decided to embark on a journey to the NBA D-League. That path to the D-League began in the 2014 NBADL Draft where the Reno Bighorns selected him with the 12th overall pick. Despite how excellent he was at Baylor, even the most optimistic person couldn’t predict what Heslip would do in the D-League.
From the opening tip-off of that 2014-15 season, Heslip just stood as an unbelievable thing to watch. On a night-by-night basis, you could realistically expect to see Heslip just light it up from beyond the arc. Heslip stood as the 2015-16 Stephen Curry of the D-League, as he shot an incredible 44% from beyond the arc on 12.8 attempts per game. With that time, Heslip had three separate games where he made 10+ perimeter attempts, including a game against Idaho where he hit 13 three-pointers.
As an unfortunate consequence to that stellar play, Heslip was quickly pulled away from the D-League in mid-January as he accepted a more lucrative contract from Igokea of the Adriatic League. Like he did with Reno, Heslip quickly shined with Igokea as he instantly stood as one of the best players in the entire league. That claim is backed up by Heslip averaging 20 points per game on 49% from the field and 49% from beyond the arc on 9 attempts per game.
Heslip’s fantastic play in Europe continued into the 2015-16 season, as he signed with Pallacanestro Cantu of Serie A in Italy. As has been the case since his time with Baylor, Heslip dominated in Italy by averaging 13.9 points on 49% from the field and 47% from beyond the arc.
If you’re any good at sensing patterns, you’d be able to easily understand that Heslip has been just a dominating perimeter shooter where he lands. Going back to that time with Baylor, Brady Heslip has only had one season where he’s shot worse than 43% from beyond the arc. Although he’s a small 6’2 guard that really hasn’t established any other go-to move aside from that perimeter jumper, Heslip stands as a player that deserves a shot in the NBA. However, that’s unlikely to come in Toronto.
The main reasoning behind that is due to Toronto already having a pretty deep back-court led by Olympians Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Looking away from that duo, the likes of Cory Joseph, Delon Wright and Norman Powell have been able to stand as fantastic pieces that the team can depend on for years to come.
While it would be nice for the Ontario native to play with the Raptors, there’s still plenty of teams that are always looking for a stellar perimeter shooter. In the modern-day NBA, it’s a huge positive for an NBA squad to have a knockdown shooter on their bench that can come in and wreak havoc for 10-15 minutes every night. There’s absolutely no doubt that Brady Heslip could become that kind of player for one lucky NBA team.