7/19/12

The W-Rap On Summer League

I want to start this by saying the natural reaction to Summer League is to over react to what happens there. This is just a small part of a larger puzzle that is a young players off-season and transition to the NBA game. This is why the fact that Jonas Valanciunas not being here was a minor disappointment. While it is great for him personally to represent his country and play in London it will be done so under FIBA rules. One of the key factors for Jonas will be how he adapts and how quickly he adapts to how the game is called in the NBA which is vastly different. Yes he will get some good things from playing in the Olympics on a very big stage with very big expectations from his homeland. That will help in preparing for what awaits him here in Toronto. After a season of hype he will have some people expecting and some even demanding instant success. Raptors have set a very high bar for the expectations on this young man with fans. I feel that was a mistake and Raptors could have done a better job managing expectations. That said think everyone is hoping for a player that can solidify himself at center position for years to come. Now let's move on to who was in Vegas.

It was also disappointing to not get to see a full look at Quincy Acy. He unfortunately bruised his back late in the 2nd game of Summer League and did not return for final 3 games. In the brief glimpse we did see it was much as advertised. A bull in a china shop that is kind of everywhere that reminds you of Reggie Evans. Still different in the sense he does have some skill on offense. Acy was 5-11 from field and unlike Reggie he is a good foul shooter, only got to the line once but made both. He averaged 6 points and 5 boards in 22 and half minutes per game. Will have to wait till pre-season to get a full look at Acy but as I have said since draft night he will grow into a fan favourite he is destined to be that based on his skills, his attitude he brings to the floor and in what little we have seen friendly off of the court.

Terrance Ross started with a bang and ended with a fizzle. I think you saw both why the Raptors liked him and why other question the number he was selected at. He is a guy not afraid to shoot the ball. He fired up 70 shots in 5 games connecting on 26 to average 37.1%. That has to be a bit disappointing for someone the Raptors and others were touting as the best shooter in this draft class. Also may still need to get use to that NBA three point line as he was just 6-24 from behind the arc which is 25%. His defense was as advertised he averaged a steal a game. He runs on the break and showed he can finish at the rim. DeRozan not only has competition for minutes but for dunks in practice and in games. Still if were talking dunks it is still Demar who wins that. Ultimately I was impressed with the raw skill set that Ross has and obviously there is work to build on that but you can see this is a kid with both talent and confidence.

Ed Davis was the man for the Raptors in Summer League. No one he needed to defer to and it was all about Ed. I am not going to say it was a mind blowing success, but it was some steps in the right direction. Let's start with an average of 9.4 rebounds in 5 games and averaged 2 a game on offensive end of the floor. That is nice to see and in Ed Davis' role with the actual roster in begins on the glass. Davis in the season just averaged 6.6 rebounds. Next we had heard talk of Ed Davis having worked oh his shot and reconstructed it somewhat. Davis shot  26-51 from the field for a 51% field goal percentage. Compare that to season it is pretty much status quo with 51.3%. What was encouraging though was at the line. Davis got there 40 times and made 28 which works out to a 72.5%. That is a bump up from just 67% last season. While you can argue about level competition when evaluating Summer League the free throws are the same in Vegas as they are at the ACC. Perhaps the best thing was how Summer League closed for Davis. He got a key rebound and made to big free throws to secure a win. Nice way to close out things in Vegas. He averaged a block a game which you would like to see improve. He averaged just shy of a block a game last season. In general we saw a more aggressive Davis who still made his share of mistakes but overall you liked to aggressive nature we saw and some signs of adding some strength to his frame. Something coach Casey was admit he wanted both DeRozan and Davis to do with off-season.

As for everyone else it is unlikely any will be getting an invite to camp with the Raptors the only exception to that could be either Bobby Brown or Ben Uzoh. This would only be if the Raptors failed to bring in John Lucas III as is being reported or if some Calderon trade were to materialize in which the Raptors would be with only 2 point guards in Lowry and Lucas or Lowry and Calderon if he remains. I would give the edge to Uzoh only because he already has some time with the club if for no other reason. I like Bobby Brown but he is a guy that looks for his own offense a little to much for my liking. He has the second most shot attempts on the Summer League Roster (Ross led team with 70) and I just am not sure that makes me comfortable in a 3rd point guard. He is also a streaky shooter. When he is hot you love him, if he isn't you are begging him to pass the ball. Uzoh did have a good final game but I was not all that impressed. He entered this as the clear choice to get a camp invite and he leaves likely not getting one. This might be pure coincidence but the fact news leaks about Lucas III after three Summer League games might speak to what the Raptors thought of what they saw from both Uzoh and Brown. It is also just might have been next on check list after making a trade of James Johnson to the Kings with no salary coming back the other way.

You can check out all the stats for yourself on NBA.Com and judge for yourself on all of this. It could have been better, it could have been worse which is almost a reflection of the Raptors record in Summer League of 2-3. Not that it is about wins and losses in these games. Still it was an inconsistent Raptors squad that had moments of great play and other times where they could not score to save their lives. It is important to keep in mind that level of competition goes up a step in Pre-Season and another huge step in the Regular Season. It is also key to realize this is a small sample size at the early stages of a process that is an NBA Off-Season. I would not be fast to judge anything to harshly or be overly optimistic. It is just a peak in the window at where various players games are at.   

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