The Raptors start 2-0 in Vegas with a 100 to 91 win over the Houston Rockets' Summer League entry. The HQ breaks things down...
There's nothing like Vegas Summer League.
Really, there isn't.
Where else can you see vets like Gerald Green, who squandered earlier NBA opportunities, giving it one more shot?
Where else can you see random former NCAA studs like Alando Tucker battle it out with newly drafted NCAA stars like Landry Fields?
It really is a bit of a surreal environment, and that's not even getting into random sightings or other incidents.
For example, I picked up my media pass yesterday at the same time as Rick Adelman, and last night at the Palms, a blackjack dealer stopped Shareef Abdur-Rahim and told him he was the most underrated player in NBA history. As well, a girl playing roulette with me told me matter-of-factly that she was here this week to "get with an NBA player."
You just can't make this stuff up.
It's especially an enjoyable environment for me because 90% of the participants are players I watched closely over the past few years in college. So even a game between a Curry-less Golden State and a Heat team that may end up being 3/5ths of their roster is great viewing from my perspective.
It helps of course if the team you're here to cover is winning, and that's exactly what the Toronto Raptors' Vegas entry is doing.
With a 100 to 91 victory over the Houston Rockets yesterday afternoon, Toronto moves to 2 and 0 in Summer League play, and continues to look dominant amongst the league's other squads.
DeMar DeRozan led the way for Toronto with 23 points on a very efficient 10 of 15 shooting. His Young Gunz running mate Sonny Weems didn't shoot as well, but was nearly as impactful showcasing his O and D en route to 13 points and 5 boards.
Toronto's bigs were also difference makers as Joey Dorsey had a double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds) and even though Ed Davis struggled on the afternoon, Solomon Alabi stepped up in his place finishing with 10 points and 6 boards.
In a game that the Dinos controlled from nearly the tip, the Rockets managed to close towards the end of the match before DeRozan and point guard Bobby Brown put it away. Brown is an interesting player out of Cal-State Fullerton who just very well may make Toronto's training camp roster if Jose or Marcus Banks are shown the door. He's not quite a pass-first point-guard, and is limited somewhat in height, but he's shown good instincts running the team, can score in bunches (he finished with 20 yesterday) and has been lauded by teammates DeRozan and Weems for his play. If I were to pick one player from this Summer League squad that might make the club next year outside of the likes of Weems and Dorsey etc, it would be Brown.
In fact, I wouldn't be shocked to see Brown lead this club to a 5-0 record in Vegas. The team has a nice mix of experience, dominant big men, skilled wings, and overall talent to do some serious damage.
It's a bit of a double-edged sword however as a lot of the time, the best Summer League teams are the best because they make up the majority of their NBA team's key players. Therefore in my experience, great Summer League teams mean bad NBA teams since the NBA team is relying heavily on these same inexperienced players.
Unfortunately, I feel that Toronto is a prime example of the latter right now disregarding any possible future moves. There's a lot of nice young talent but we've yet to see if that equates to anything when the games truly matter.
However there's a lot here to be encouraged by.
DeRozan's shot looks a lot smoother and more confident and he's looking to attack on offense at every opportunity.
Sonny Weems does look to have extended his range, but not at the expense of getting to the cup.
There are some great defensive flashes shown by Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi
And Joey Dorsey is simply a monster in the paint, a take-no-prisoners big man that also has a nice soft touch around the rim.
So what does this all mean?
Well, not much right now aside from Toronto having some solid young prospects who continue to build on their skills.
And right now, isn't that really all you can ask for as a Raptors' fan?