"Out of sight, out of mind". It would be easy to simply forget that two pieces of Toronto's future are playing abroad and trying to develop their game. But don't worry, RaptorsHQ is here to give periodic updates on both Roko-Leni Ukic and Uros Slokar. Because the Raptors are in no way associated with Tau or Benetton there is always a risk in having others develop your talent, or even worse, not allow it to develop.
Here's the update on the two 2005 second round picks.
Roko was signed to replace now current Raptor Jose Calderon. Well three games have been played so far in the Euroleague, and although the jury won't come back with a verdict until all is said and done so far the Roko experiment is one of mixed reviews. Fact of the matter is the Tau Ceramica team is a good one featuring arguably the best player in Europe in Luis Scola, along with former NBAers Pedrag Drobnjak, Casey Jacobsen, former Raptor Kornell David, and likely 2006 lottery pick Tiago Splitter. That being said Roko is getting some time, just not an abundance of it. In the first game of the year Roko played 18:00 of game time, since then he has only played another 18 minutes in total. In Tau's latest victory over Union Olimpija (featuring former Raptor 2nd round pick Ramon Van de Hare) Roko had 9 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Roko will never be all about numbers. His length at the PG spot creates troubles for opposing guards and much like Calderon he will be asked to be a PURE point guard in the Tau system.
It is important to remember that these Euroleague games are typically low scoring and the box scores are never really that enticing. We undoubtedly think Roko will play a little more than he has and he is starting. We will keep an eye on this situation to see if Roko's signing abroad really was the best move (other than financially of course).
Fortunate for Raptors fans both of the Raps picks play for solid European franchises. In the case of Summer League Star Uros Slokar, Benetton Treviso. The story with Uros is a little different than Roko's as although Uros is not starting, he is getting some quality minutes and producing at a good level.
In the first game of the year, against Bamberg, Uros was extremely efficient off the bench in a 76-68 victory. In just over 12 minutes of time Uros managed 5 points on 2/3 shooting (1/1 from the line) and 5 rebounds. It will be interesting to see how Uros does on the boards as we all know we are desperate for a rebounder.
Uros, much like Roko however, will have games (mostly due to inexperience) where the minutes just are not there, and in the season's second game that was the case as Uros played less than 10 minutes with little to show for it (2 points, 2 rebounds). In the third and final game to date Uros again played less than 10 minutes but made a good case for more game time dropping 7 points, grabbing 2 boards and having two steals. 7 points in 10 minutes, that is some nice work.
Benetton is 3-0, and having Uros play on a team that wins is beneficial. Anytime you can bring in players from a winning system, be it college or abroad it is a good thing. The Raptors are changing and this is a great way to start this transition.
Keep checking back as our European scout checks in with all the latest from Euroleague!