Axel Toupane, the D-league’s 2016 Most Improved Player signed a contract with the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday afternoon. Toupane is fresh off a career-high 41 points in the Raptors 905 victory over the Canton Charge in Wednesday’s playoff game.
— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) April 8, 2017
Toupane has seen time with the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets, on a couple of 10-day contracts. With Denver, Toupane saw 311 minutes of action so has had some kind of seasoning on an NBA floor. This season with the Raptors 905, he averaged, 16.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 28 minutes per contest. The call-up will certainty hurt the 905 playoff chances as a D-league championship was on the horizon, and as anyone can see Toupane was a pivotal part.
This is amazing and well deserved for Axel Toupane but obviously a huge loss for Raptors 905 in playoffs. https://t.co/XJb1M0rt0m
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) April 8, 2017
The Pelicans had also brought up point guard Quinn Cook from the D-league and on Friday signed him to a two-year contract, along with Toupane both played on the Pelicans summer-league team in Las Vegas. With the NBA introducing “two-way contracts”, a way for players to be with an NBA team but not quite on the 15-man roster while being designated as a developmental player. This can help players like Cook and Toupane as these “hybrid” contracts allow them to bounce back and forth between the D-league and NBA while being under an NBA contract. It seems the Pelicans have planned on embracing this, thus causing them to be able to sign players now that they believe will be beneficial to teams long-term future.
In Toupane’s first few cups of coffee in the NBA nothing statistically stands out with per 36 minute averages didn’t stand out, with averages of 9.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists with some not so friendly shooting percentages. The D-league has helped the 24-year-old expand his offensive game, evidenced by his 41 points the other night, as well as his now respectable 34.5 percent from three. The most attractive part of Toupane’s game is his defense and ability to defend multiple positions. Along with a new contract and refined shot it is possible Toupane develops into a reliable “3-and-D” wing player for head coach Alvin Gentry.