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It’s Time for Axel Toupane to Return to the NBA

Raptors 905 guard Axel Toupane spent time last season in the NBA and should be on his way back.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

With 10 day contracts well under way one player who should get one is Axel Toupane. The French swingman (shooting guard/small forward) has been dominating the D-League once again with the 905 after getting a call up to the Denver Nuggets in the prior season. While he eventually got cut by the Nuggets and since have made it back to the D-League, the 24-year-old Toupane is still young and solid enough to make his way back to the NBA.

Although Toupane is relatively new to NBA fans, he’s actually been playing pro basketball since 2011 where he played with the SIG Basketball Club, who plays in the French Pro A League. Toupane really grew up SIG Strasbourg as he made an evolution from being a young player that rarely played to standing as one of the squad’s finest role players. After only playing 25 of the team’s 42 games during his rookie year in 2011-12, Toupane evolved to the point where he was averaging 7 points and 2.4 boards per game on 44% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc during the 2014-15 season.

Following that season, Toupane made his way to the NBA Summer League with the Toronto Raptors Toronto Raptors, where he averaged 4.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 3 games. After the Summer League, Toupane was signed to a contract with the Raptors but was waived after 2 pre-season games. After getting waived by Toronto, Toupane was allocated to the Raptors 905 for their inaugural season.

In his 1st season with the 905, Toupane instantly became a fan-favorite in Mississauga. That love was due to Toupane averaging 14.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists on 43% from the field. Toupane’s versatile game pushed the Denver Nuggets to give Toupane a 10 day contract on March 3rd.

From the jump, Toupane received more playing time than your normal 10 day call-up. During Toupane’s first two 10-day contracts, he played 14.8 minutes per game where he averaged 2.9 points and 1.3 rebounds on 33% from the field. Despite those lackluster numbers, the Nuggets still gave Toupane a multi-year contract. After that initial rough patch, Toupane ended his season on a great note in April where he averaged 5.8 points and 2 rebounds per game on 40% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc in 13.8 minutes per game.

That strong end to his rookie season was still not enough for the Nuggets to retain Toupane for the following season. During the training camp leading up to the current season, the Denver Nuggets ended up waiving Toupane alongside fellow NBA vets JaKarr Sampson and D.J. Kennedy.

After spending time in the NBA, Toupane came back to the 905 under new head coach Jerry Stackhouse, Toupane had one goal in mind; Get back to the NBA. Toupane’s game has taken a tremendous stride during the current season, due in part to his experience in the NBA. While he stood as one of the more experienced players in the NBADL, Toupane still seemed overlooked by many NBA scouts. Part of that blame goes to Stackhouse’s rotation from the beginning of the year where he went with a 10-12 man rotation, which took a hit at Toupane’s playing time.

Fortunately, Stackhouse has since instilled a more reasonable 8 man rotation, which has increased both his minutes and stock as a significant NBADL prospect. Since the calendar turned to 2017, Toupane has averaged 17.2 points, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game on 47% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. That efficiency has pushed Toupane to maintain an impressive 61% True Shooting Percentage (TS%). Although those numbers are similar to what he posted up during the prior season, Toupane’s been able to improve his efficiency as he shot 43% and maintained a 55% TS%.

With the All-Star break behind and the NBA trade deadline slowly approaching, the time is now for a NBA team to give Toupane a shot. At this point in the season, it’s extremely difficult for an NBA team to find a rotation player that can do what Toupane’s able to do. Standing as a 6’7 wing, Toupane is able to shine as a facilitator, on-ball cutter and perimeter shooter. That kind of versatility definitely warrants for Axel Toupane to return to the NBA.