It’s been a crazy first day in Vegas for Franchise and Howland, from running through airports, launching the new RHQ, to watching summer league with the Raptors brass and mingling with many of the who’s who in the NBA.
The past 24 hours have been an absolute whirlwind.
Of course being in Vegas would you expect anything less?
In deciding to venture into the desert for the 2009 Vegas Summer League we thought it was an opportune time to launch the new site. We hope you like it.
The main reason we came down however was to watch the Raps summer league squad in action and get the first glimpse at Raptors rookie DeMar DeRozan. It was a great experience.
Immediately after picking up credentials we both knew we had made the right decision to make the trek. Not only did we get to watch the games amidst some of the Raps coaching staff, but we also managed to see some of our favourite NCAA prospects in action. The only disappointment was that Carl English was not around to discuss the Canadian National Program as he just signed a contract with Tau Ceramica and won’t be looking to play in the league this season.
The focus of course was on the Raps –Lakers match-up. Although a summer league game, it was chalk full of excitement.
The Raps starting five included Roko Ukic, Patrick O’Bryant, Quincy Douby, Paul Davis and the aforementioned DeRozan. The Lakers squad on the other hand featured very few household names other than Adam Morrison.
The theme for Toronto throughout the entire game was to push the ball – and run they did. The Raptors were constantly getting the ball up the court at a torrid pace. The guys responsible for setting the pace were Roko and Smush Parker. Roko looks like he has put on a little muscle and he did play well in spurts, but it was Parker who was the most effective at getting the ball ahead and creating easy hoops. In fact, Smush looks like he could be a real possibility as a third PG. There don’t seem to be many questions about his talent but there was a good deal of conversation being had about whether he could keep his head on straight should Toronto look to sign him.
The highlight of the game was definitely a Brent Petway dunk at halftime which had many people leave their seats. His one handed cram before the buzzer was simply incredible. Although Petway is not on the radar for many basketball fans, even after a solid career at Michigan, we had a feeling we would see a highlight or two from him given his dunk performance in warm ups.
DeMar, although he started slow, came on in the second half and seemed to get into more of a groove. During the third and fourth quarter DeRozan did a nice job creating off the bounce and scoring with his mid-range game. His first bucket was a jumper from about 10 feet. It was fun to see him matched-up against Adam Morrison for a good chunk of the game. Although Morrison outscored the rook DeRozan didn’t look overmatched by any stretch. In fact, when the game was on the line, the Raps coaching staff had no problem putting the rock in DeMar’s hands. Although the shot came up short,t DeMar made the smart play, driving and looking for contact. It was great to see the Raps staff show confidence in the young man already.
After the game we managed to catch-up quickly with DeMar however the quality of the video below isn't great thanks to the background noise in the gym. (Use headphones for best audio.) Have no fear though, we're setting up a one-on-one interview over the next few days and this will be done in much more quiet and contained settings
So like David Stern on this most recent draft night, while we can't present DeMar DeRozan talking with the HQ, we can bring you...
(Again, use headphones for best audio.)
O'Bryant was one of the key players in yesterday's game from the Raptors' coaches' perspective.
In the first half O’Bryant didn’t come out that strong and he was consistently late on defensive rotations and rolls to the rim. The second half was another story. After some urging by Triano and co. seated behind us, right from the whistle in the second session, Toronto looked to get Patrick more involved by posting him up down low. Roko consistently fed O’Bryant the ball in the post and the results were much more positive. Being so close to the action it’s clear that the Raps want to see this guy succeed as he was getting solid support from the sidelines. But the concern is that the club shouldn't need to "look" to get him involved at this point. A player of his size and ability simply should be dominating in these settings. After an ill-advised long-range shot from near 3-point land, there was a collective groan from Toronto's brass and one assistant even exclaimed "the guy wants to be the next Rasheed Wallace."
Not exactly the type of feedback I'm sure POB was looking for.
Considering it’s highly unlikely that Triano draws up many plays for O’Bryant this year, he will need to learn how to be effective while not being the centerpiece
There will be lots more to report in the days ahead, but after being awake for over 26 straight hours it’s time to take a rest after a big day for the HQ.