Thanks to the International action going on right now, basketball is alive and well in the off-season.
This morning Team Canada took on Lithuania and while the result was a tough loss for the Canadians, it gave many Raptors' fans a chance to take a look at one of the team's off-season acquisitions, Linas Kleiza.
Kleiza was without a doubt Lithuania's best player on the court today, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds, scoring from all over the court, and showing the rugged intensity that should make him a solid addition to the Raps next year. He played a 3-4 role for the Lithuanians, posting up on numerous occasions, and showing a nice face-up and back-to-the-basket game. Really, the Canadians had no answer for Kleiza defensively.
However you could see some of the criticisms of Kleiza's game on display today as well.
At times he was too selfish offensively, a bit of a black hole in fact, and settled for long-range shots when other options might have been better. He was a bit streaky too, shooting only 6 of 15 from the floor, and while he can be a solid passer, at times today he tried to do too much, the case on both of his turnovers.
That being said, having seen him now through two games, I'm warming up to the idea of him with the Raptors. He dropped 27 and 8 on New Zealand on Saturday, hitting 11 of his 15 shots, and while he's not playing consistent NBA talent, defensively he's looked pretty solid. He might not have the quickest feet side-to-side, but he's done a nice job establishing position and reading cutters, little things like that that could make a big difference for Toronto this coming season.
Best of all though is what Jack Armstrong described as "the attitude he plays with."
You can see it on the court, Kleiza just seems a bit smug as in "I'm going to dominate you and there's nothing you can do about it."
Frankly, with all the doom and gloom prognostications about the Dinos this year already, a little of that swagger could go a long way.