July 23, 2024

Justise Winslow made his season debut for the Toronto Raptors’ G League affiliate, the Raptors 905, on Tuesday, marking a significant step toward his return to the NBA.

Justise Winslow was so excited he could hardly contain himself.

He asked the gathered media, “Can I curse?” after leaving the court in his first basketball game in nearly a year. “It was incredibly amazing.” I apologize for my poor French.

Eventually, on Tuesday night, the 27-year-old former lottery selection joined the Toronto Raptors’ G League affiliate, Raptors 905, for his season debut. It was his first meaningful game action since he sustained an ankle injury that ended his season in December of last year while playing for the Portland Trail Blazers.

“No, but really, it was a lot of fun,” he said to reporters following the match. “I told myself that all I wanted to do was have fun when I talked to people before the game. All I wanted to do was laugh, be happy, and play with determination and competition. To be honest, I wasn’t too worried about the numbers; instead, I just wanted to go out there, have fun, and express my body and feel the game and my body out. Everything felt great.

If you looked at the numbers, though, they seemed to indicate that this player won’t play in the G League all season. In 16 minutes, he scored 13 points on 4 of 8 field goals.

Eric Khoury, the coach of Raptors 905: “He was so locked in.” “For his debut, he played a fairly good offensive game, but his defense was probably ten times better. It’s great to have him around.

For the foreseeable future, Winslow will be limited in his minutes by the 905 and will be treated carefully. For the frequently injured Winslow, it’s a lengthy and occasionally frustrating process; he acknowledged that the most difficult aspect of the trip has been trying to get well.

“I’m here, I’ve embraced it, and it’s been very good to me, obviously, even though this wasn’t the path I wanted to take,” he remarked. However, I simply wanted to be prepared for training camp. Prior to that, I was hoping to be able to lead team workouts, but I was unable to do so. However, I believe that the most difficult aspect was simply exercising patience—believe me, there were difficult days and periods of time.

Winslow claimed that having kids around him has helped him during this process. He has a son and a baby on the way, and he has volunteered to mentor kids in Toronto and his social circle during his rehabilitation. There were two child-filled cheering sections at the 905 game, ready to cheer on Winslow in his debut.

It has been truly special for him to have that family be a part of his journey. “Would love to continue to embrace the City of Toronto and have them embrace me,” he said.

Since Winslow’s rights are currently owned by the Raptors outside of the G League, any team could sign him to play in the NBA again whenever he feels well enough. In order to sign Winslow, Toronto would need to waive someone in order to create room on the roster. However, it is evident that Winslow, the Raptors, and head coach Darko Rajaković have a past history together.

The Raptors will probably be first in line to try out for the 6-foot-6 forward once Winslow is fully recovered. Though Toronto will have a front-row seat for his return and probably the first opportunity to get him back to the major leagues, that is not to say other teams won’t try to sign him.

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