There is no rest for the weary.
As general manager’s around the league continue to play a game of cat and mouse with many NBA agents they also need to prepare for the upcoming summer league games which are just around the corner.
The Raptors released their roster yesterday and here is the press release:
July 2, 2009
RAPTORS ANNOUNCE 2009 LAS VEGAS SUMMER LEAGUE ROSTER
The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday their 12-man roster for the 2009 Las Vegas Summer League presented by EA Sports. First-round draft pick guard-forward DeMar DeRozan will join guard Roko Ukic, guard Quincy Douby, forward Nathan Jawai and centre Patrick O'Bryant for five games at the Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas from July 10-17.
DeRozan was selected ninth overall by Toronto in last month's NBA Draft and will become the third first-round draft pick to participate in the Las Vegas Summer League, joining Andrea Bargnani (2006) and Joey Graham (2005). This summer marks the third time Toronto has participated in the Las Vegas Summer League since its inception in 2004.
Ukic will get his first taste of summer league action after appearing in 72 regular season games during his rookie campaign. Jawai also suited up for the Raptors during six games last season, in addition to participating on last year's summer league squad. Both Ukic and Jawai will return to their respective national teams (Croatia and Australia) at the conclusion of summer league action. A total of five players on the Raptors summer roster have experience in international competition, including Newfoundland native Carl English, a three-year veteran of the Canadian national team, Ekene Ibekwe, who represented Nigeria during the 2006 FIBA World Championships, and David Doublas, a member of Spain's 2001 Under-20 national team.
Other notables on this year's summer league roster include two-time NBA D-League Slam Dunk contest winner Brent Petway and NBA veterans Paul Davis, Smush Parker and Demetris Nichols.
Eric Hughes has been assigned summer league head coaching duties for a second consecutive year. He will be joined by assistants Micah Nori and Alvin Williams. Toronto opens its summer league schedule against the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, July 10 at 8 p.m. (ET).
It’s an interesting squad, but not necessarily one that I am all that impressed with.
In terms of Raptors currently under contract having DD, Ukic, Jawai, O’Bryant and Douby in Vegas makes sense. I actually hope this will be the team’s starting five for the upcoming games.
It’s great to see Ukic on the roster given the rumours about him being unhappy in Toronto. This is an opportunity for him to lead a team and should give the Raps coaching staff a better sense of what improvements he has made since the season came to an end. If Ukic plans on making strides similar to Calderon in his sophomore season, this is his first chance to show it’s not only possible but likely.
Having both DeRozan and Jawai on the squad is not surprising. Given last season was a total wash for the Australian big-man, Jawai needs to get some game action under his belt. Jawai was, and continues to be, a major project for the Raptors coaching staff. This is just another small step on what looks to be a long road. For DD, this will be his first opportunity to show the Raps staff what he can do when there are real bodies on the floor rather than pylons and chairs.
O’Bryant and Douby continue to work hard this off-season and it’s great to see both these guys on the roster. Both players have been frequent visitors to the Raptors facilities during the course of the off-season and hopefully their hard work starts to pay-off. Remember what BC says about O’Bryant at the end of the season – this may be his last chance.
Now what about the rest of the roster?
Let’s just say it is a little underwhelming.
Out of the remaining guys on the roster there are really only two players who interest me, Smush Parker and Demetris Nichols.
It wasn’t that long ago that Parker had a significant role on a very solid Lakers team. Since his time in LA however, the wheels have fallen off and Smush now finds himself looking for an NBA roster spot. It will be interesting to see how he performs as compared to Ukic. If Parker really shines it is possible that he earns a roster spot. Parker may have some red flags but he has proven that he can play.
Nichols is the guy who intrigues me the most. He is a very solid offensive player who absolutely filled it up in the D-League this past season. The 6’7" second round pick has always been known for his solid shooting stroke and ability to score but in the D-League he really did it all. Outside of averaging 20+ points a game and shooting great percentages from the floor, including from beyond the arc, Nichols put up good rebounding and assist numbers. He also averaged more than one steal and one block per contest. Nichols also has a huge wingspan and is a decent defender. The Raps still need to add more athleticism to the wing position and Nichols could be that guy.
Outside of Parker and Nichols however I am left wondering what the Raps think they can get out of the likes of Carl English, David Doublas et al. and why the team didn’t take a flyer on some of the players who found themselves undrafted last month. Unfortunately for us at the HQ Jerel McNeal is going to be playing with Sacramento. You can find a complete list of summer league rosters here, and I have to say some of the rosters are rather impressive including the Spurs, Sacto and the Wizards.
The one guy who isn’t on the roster, and probably should be, is Marcus Banks. Banks is a guy that, despite the contract security, needs to be playing in Vegas. After another poor year Marcus needs to be getting some PT in an organized setting. He has essentially done nothing to warrant the contract he has and if he is not careful, will soon find himself in a position much like the aforementioned Smush Parker…on the outside looking in. His absence is even more surprising given where Summer League is taking place. Banks, the former UNLV student, is known for spending the off-season in Vegas. I would be surprised if the Raps didn’t ask him to partake in these games.
Nevertheless the Raps summer league roster is made up and most, if not all of the players have something to prove. These games may not show the Raps coaches who can play at the next level but they will definitely show who can’t.