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Raptors’ Gradey Dick learning on two teams

TORONTO – Gradey Dick might be the busiest player on the Toronto Raptors.

The 20-year-old rookie forward is seeing regular playing minutes in his first season in the NBA, but also logging even more time on the court with the G-League’s Raptors 905.

Drafted 13th overall out of Kansas by Toronto in last summer’s draft, Dick said that all the travel has been the biggest adjustment since jumping from the NCAA to the NBA.

“I just continue to say the schedule,” Dick told reporters on Monday. “You’re travelling non-stop. You might have a home series here and there, but other than that it seems like you’re in different cities every other night.

“That’s definitely the biggest challenge but also a fun one too.”

The past week is a good example of how hectic Dick’s schedule can be.

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Dick had 21 points on Friday as the Raptors 905 beat the Maine Celtics 124-114 in a G-League matinee at Scotiabank Arena. He was supposed to be called up to the NBA team’s roster for a game against the New York Knicks that night on the same court, but Dick felt sick after the G-League game, so he was scratched from the lineup.

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Like his Raptors teammates, he had the weekend off but then had a full day of practice with the big club on Monday. He was then recalled to the Raptors 905 on Tuesday to play against the Westchester Knicks in White Plains, N.Y., on Wednesday morning.

In theory, he could return to Toronto in time to be on the bench against the Miami Heat at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night. However, it’s more likely he’ll stick with the 905 to play against the Long Island Nets in Uniondale, N.Y., on Thursday night and then re-join the Raptors in Charlotte on Friday.

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“Every game that first kind of up-and-down you need to take a deep breath, but after that the butterflies are gone, those good nerves are gone and you’re back to playing basketball,” said Dick on changing between the two levels of pro basketball on a nearly daily basis.

“If you’re going hard enough in practice it’s what you’re used to in the games. That’s what I try to do every rep. I want to go as hard as I can and when you do that it makes it easier.”

Dick is averaging 3.9 points, 1.5 rebounds and one assist in 14.7 minutes with the Raptors. He’s averaging 15 points, 2.7 rebounds and an assist in 36.9 minutes per game in the G League.

Team management has told Dick that nothing should change in his style of play between the two teams.

“(Just) doing them at a higher rate with the 905, doing it in more possessions,” he said after practice on Monday. “Obviously, with more minutes there will be more shots, but just make sure they’re good shots.

“Open it up for my team and not do anything I’m not used to.”

Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic said that the organization is trying to replicate the same coaching environment between the two teams to best benefit players like Dick, who are splitting time between the NBA and the G League.

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“When we have players on assignment and two-way guys, they really feel it’s the same system and same offensively, defensively vocabulary that we’re using, and that’s something that really helps with the adjustment to the players,” said Rajakovic. “I thought every game, every half, (Dick) was getting better and improving and now he’s just finding the rhythm.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2023.

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