The Toronto Raptors kick off their 2014 NBA Summer League schedule with a game this Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers. They then take on the Vegas versions of the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks in the next three days, and depending on Summer League results, could participate in a couple playoff match-ups.
Yesterday we quickly threw out the names of this year's Raptors' Summer League Squad, but as noted, we should spend a a bit of time going through some of the key players on this club to really get a feel for who the Dinos are taking a closer look at.
And we'll start with BRUNO...
BRUNO CABOCLO - 6-9 F: Toronto's mystery draft pick will make his debut in a Dinos' uniform in Vegas, getting some run in with this year's Summer League squad. I'm guessing Caboclo will be a starter on this squad as the coaching staff will be anxious to see just what they've got to work with.
DWIGHT BUYCKS - 6-3 G: Another current Raptor, at least until July 22, Buycks gets another Summer League look. You may recall that he joined the club a few games into Vegas play last summer, and looked pretty solid in his time with the team. Roster changes fairly early in the regular season meant he didn't get much playing time, but this will represent another chance to land a roster spot, either with the Dinos or another club.
DEANDRE DANIELS - 6-9 F: The Raptors' other draft choice from a week ago, I'm betting that Daniels gets a lot of run as a starter as well, probably at the 4 spot beside Caboclo. I'm still not sold on him as an NBA player, so his play in Summer League should at least give an idea of if he can at the very least stand out against other fringe NBA types.
LUCAS NOGUEIRA - 7-0 F/C: Another recent roster addition, Raptors' fans will get their first look at the prospect the Dinos obtained in their trade for Lou Williams. I'm betting Nogueira is the team's starting center and it will be interesting to see how raw he looks against seasoned college and overseas vets.
MYCK KABONGO - 6-3 G: Ding ding ding! Yes, I'm tickled pink to see Kabogo with this group. He's a Canadian of course, but he's also a player that at one point looked to be a potential NBA lottery draft choice. Considering the Dinos may need some help behind Kyle Lowry and Lou Williams, this is a great pick-up as Kabongo has shown promise as a pick-and-roll leader, and has the requisite size and athletic ability to be a factor at the next level. Two things I'll be watching closely with Kabonogo are his scoring efficiency and his finishing ability, two areas he struggled with at Texas.
SCOTT MACHADO - 6-1 G: The Yin to Kabongo's Yang, Machado is much more of a pass-first point guard, and will be an interesting change of pace as the lead guard for the Raptors' coaching staff. Machado went undrafted in 2012 but had some run with the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors over the past two seasons. However Machado has spent the bulk of his time post Iona in the D-League and he's going to have to show improved offensive skills for the Dinos if he hopes to make the training camp roster.
MALCOLM LEE - 6-5 G/F: Lee is the most intriguing player to me on this roster outside of the club's newest draft and trade acquisitions. He was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 2011 NBA draft but was traded that night to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a deal that also involved Norris Cole. Lee has 35 games of NBA experience via two seasons in Minnesota, but has had a litany of injuries in the past two seasons and has been traded about 15 times without sniffing any NBA action. However, the former UCLA Bruin was a standout in his draft class in terms of advanced stats and looked like another UCLA sleeper so this could be Masai Ujiri giving the can one more kick.
HASSAN WHITESIDE - 7-0 C: The funny thing is, a couple weeks ago, I was wondering what the hell had happened to Whiteside. A talent shot-blocker coming out of college, Whiteside was a second-round pick of the Sacramento Kings back in 2010, and looked like someone simply based on his physical tools, who would find a spot in the league.
It didn't happen though, and Whiteside has kicked around China for the past two seasons, unable to get back to the L. Whiteside did grab Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year accolades while in China, but it's hard to say that means he's ready to jump into any sort of role with an NBA club. However for the Raps, I'm thinking he'll get a fair amount of time behind "Bebe" to show what he's capable of.
DORON LAMB - 6-4 G: The club's designated Summer League Gunner! All jokes aside, Lamb was drafted out of Kentucky for one thing, his ability to shoot the long-ball. He hit nearly 50 per cent of his three-pointers with the Wildcats and in the NBA, was fairly successful in this capacity as well, hitting 40 per cent of his shots from downtown for the Orlando Magic last season.
The Raptors no doubt will be looking at this shooting ability but here's hoping he can show them something else as well. While in college Lamb showed some ability to run the floor and attack the basket, he's done very little of that in the NBA, and has shot worse from 2-point land than long-range so far in his career.
Of note, Lamb's agent is none-other than Super Agent Arn Tellem, who also represents Raptors' free agent Greivis Vasquez.
DARINGTON HOBSON - 6-7 G/F: I was a big Hobson fan coming out of the University of New Mexico. Hobson was a long and versatile swingman who looked like he could find a role in the league as a tweener type, relying on his abilities to create shots for others and rebound the basketball. However he's always struggled as a finisher, and without uber athleticism, hasn't been able to stand out in the constant glut of 3/4 types. It looks like he had a nice season with the Israeli League last year averaging 15.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists, but I'm skeptical he's got much new to show NBA teams.
CHRIS DANIELS - 7-0 C: Now we get into the more random guys. In fact it took me a minute to figure out which Chris Daniels this was until I realized it was the seven-foot Texas A&M version. Daniels was a prospect what seems like eons ago as a potential defensive presence coming out for the 2008 NBA Draft. Born in 1984, Daniels is an old man on this roster but there's always intrigue around players his size so he's getting yet another Vegas look.
SAM DOWER - 6-9 F: Dower must have made a nice impression on the Raptors in pre-draft workouts this season as he's the only player from those sessions outside of DeAndre Daniels who the Dinos are taking a second look at. (Or maybe because he shares an agent with Nathan Jawai!!) We previewed the undrafted former Zag before the draft here, and not sure there's much else to discuss.
T.J. BRAY - 6-5 G: Wait, one more! The Raptors also brought in Princeton's Bray for a look, and you can read our full take on him pre-draft here. He'll likely compete with Lamb for top gunner option on this club.
JOHN SHURNA - 6-10 G/F: I barely remember this kid out of Northwestern but his Draftexpress profile DOES compare him to Steve Novak so...
ELI HOLMAN - 6-9 F: Finally, Holman, who went undrafted out of Detroit in 2012, despite a nice showing at that year's Portsmouth pre-draft camp. He's undersized height-wise for the 4 spot, but has great length and is a tireless rebounder. However he's not the type of player who usually shines in these settings as he's a grit guy, struggling to create his own offence. He might also be an "agent favour" by Masai Ujiri as Holman's agency also represents Jose Calderon, Steve Novak and Alan Anderson.
While there are some veteran players on this club, I'm thinking it's quite possible Toronto leaves Vegas without a win considering how raw their key players are. A starting five of Kabongo, Lamb, Caboclo, Daniels and Nogueira doesn't exactly scream "tourney-winning entry" but really, wins and losses in this setting hardly matter. In the end, this session is all about getting some run for Caboclo, DeAndre Daniels and "Bebe," with perhaps a secondary task of taking another look at guys like Kabongo, Lee, Lamb and Machado.
We'll see how far along Toronto's newest members are starting this Friday.