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Summer League Re-Cap - Part I

The Raptors are heading into their second summer league beginning today at the Target Center in Minneapolis Minnesota. Opponents include, New York, Indiana, Milwaukee, Minnesota and Houston. This will give Sam Mitchell and the Raptors brass another opportunity to see what this year's summer league team can do with five games in five nights! That being said however, both Raptors first round picks will be absent as CV3 and Joey G. are both nursing injuries from the run in Southern California. What Raptors fans can look forward to though is the first appearance of Roko Leni-Ukic as a buyout has been agreed to with his former team KK Split.

RaptorsHq will be monitoring Minnesota closely and will be reporting on the events. That being said, what can Raps fans take from the first four games of summer? The team went 2-2 winning their first two games and then going on to lose the second two. Let’s take a look at some of the members of the Raptors summer squad and break down some of the performances.

Charlie Villanueva:

As mentioned CV3's summer league experience for this year is over (3 games) but prior to pulling his right groin he looked good. Good enough for pick 7? Way too early to tell. What CV3 did show was the ability to score, rebound, pass, and put the ball on the floor. This team needs a “triple threat”, and it looks like it may have one.

MPG: Approx 30
PPG: 17.3
RPG: 5.6
APG: 2.7
FG%: .477

Things were off to a good start for the Raps version of Lamar Odom. Perhaps what is most impressive is the high FG%. Supposedly the Raps used Villanueva in all three front-court positions and he showed good versatility. It is really disappointing he is out for Minnesota, but it does make you want to attend the home opener to see what he can do when the games actually count.

Joey Graham:

Stats is not the way to evaluate a player that prides himself on D. We here at RaptorsHq love hearing a guy talk about how he wants to guard the Lebron’s, Kobe’s and T-Mac’s of the league. Consequently looking at the box scores will not tell the whole story, but because we have nothing else to go on here’s the breakdown:

MPG: Approx 30
PPG: 14.5
RPG: 5.5
APG: 1.75

FG%: .381

Again solid numbers with two things to notice. First, that shooting percentage has to come up. Comfort and practice will help turn this stat around and fans should not be too concerned considering he shot .529% from the floor last year at OSU. Second, those rebounding numbers are pretty solid. For a team that couldn’t grab a rebound if it hit them in the hands last year a rebounding swingman can do nothing but help. Unfortunately a calf injury is keeping Joey G. out of the Minnesota shenanigans. RaptorsHq can’t wait for the season to start to see Graham cram it on someone and then run back to play lock-down D rather than look at the big screen for the replay like many of today’s young stars.

Omar Cook:

As suggested in “The Blueprint” we here at RaptorsHq view Omar as a potential third PG for this years squad. In the last ten games of the 04-05 season Cook displayed a great handle, ability to find the open man, and an improvement in hitting the jumper. Has this high level of play and hopes of finding an NBA job resulted in a better Omar for the 05-06 season? During the Southern Cali Summer League, Omar statistically looked like this:

MPG: Approx 26
PPG: 5.25
RPG: 1.5
APG: 3.75
Fg%: .296
A/TO: 2.5

Well things are not off to a blistering start for Cook. His FG% is well below what is required to be effective in the NBA, even as a third strong PG. That being said it is more his ability to pass the ball that caught our eye and a 2.5 assist to turn-over ration is fairly solid. No question all of these number need to be higher in order for Cook to make the team. That being said the Raptors are supposedly in the hunt for PG Antonio Daniels so it is possible that Omar shakes the rust off his shot, dishes and dimes like there’s no tomorrow and yet still finds his way back to the NDBL.

Uros Slokar:

For a late second rounder “Slokar” is looking more like a Porsche 911. Although our man the Swirsk sees Uros heading back to Europe next year, if he keeps performing at this level Babcock will have to think at least twice before doing so. Here’s the breakdown:

MPG: Approx 26
PPG: 14.25
RPG: 7.25
APG: 0.5
FG%: .643

These are solid numbers and it is definitely something to be happy with. Perhaps even more impressive is that Uros took as many free-throws as field-goals (28) in the four games and hit from the charity stripe 71% of the time. Enthusiasm resulting from summer league box scores have to be tempered somewhat however, as Skita and Jason Kapono lit up the summer league last year and unfortunately the high level of play there did not continue into the regular season. Let’s see what happens in the next five games, in particular with CV3 and Joey G. on the shelf. These next five games will likely be determinative of whether the Raps give Slokar an invite to training camp an the chance to hold down a bottom tier (10-15) roster spot. All things considered the shooting percentage is very impressive.

Pape Sow:

Spiderman has been inconsistent in summer league as to date. Pape started off on fire with a 21 point 7 rebound performance in the first game but the numbers have been well shy of these marks since. On a whole Pape’s first four games of summer resulted in the following numbers:

MPG: Approx 30.
PPG: 10.25
RPG: 6.0
APG: .25
FG%: .407
SPG: 1.75

When you look at these numbers nothing jumps off the page but that being said they are fairly solid, except with the exception of the FG%. It should be to no-one’s surprise that Pape needs to continue to improve his offensive game and must shoot a higher percentage. Pape will never be a dominating scoring force in the NBA and luckily there is no pressure on this team for him to develop into another scorer at this point. Pape needs to rebound like it is nobody’s business and play tough D. Not having seen the games (they are not shown on Raps TV or elsewhere, at least not yet) it is hard to evaluate how Pape has played as he is a “little things” kind of player. Almost 2 steals a game may however, be a good indication that he continues to play hard. He will have some interesting match-ups in the next 5 games and we will continue to watch carefully. The Raps need him to make some serious strides this year as the C spot remains a gaping hole.

Unfortunately summer league games are not broadcast live and as a result it is difficult to break down who is doing the little things and showing heart on the floor either through blanket defence, or tipped balls etc. On a whole one cannot take too much from these games, guys are shaking the rust and are just now trying any new moves they may have been working on in the off-season. One thing is for sure however, the rebounders will continue to rebound (Pape), the passers pass (Omar) and the pure shooters will score (Slokar?). What is interesting is to see is who has truly improved with the time off or has brought something to the table that no-one expected. Let’s see who takes their game to the next level this week. You can follow the action at Minnesota home page.

Dave Randell