The Young Gunz continued their outstanding Summer League play yesterday in an 88 to 82 win over the Sacramento Kings...
We all know that Summer League is just that, Summer League.
What happens in Vegas...well...a lot of the time, it stays in Vegas.
That's why guys like Marcus Banks and Salim Stoudamire, both of whom tore up Vegas when they were there, couldn't find the same success when they hit they got to the big time.
So what does a 4 and 0 record say about the Toronto Raptors' entry and the players that make up a squad that's only a win away from an undefeated Summer League session? In some ways, maybe not much as I've discussed before, but in others, a lot. It's the latter that I want to speak about briefly today.
If one were to describe the Toronto Raptors over the past few seasons under Bryan Colangelo, most would probably throw out adjectives like skilled, soft, finesse-based, and other terms like European, jump-shooting and high-scoring would likely be used as well. Fans clamored for more defense, more athleticism, more shot-blocking ability, etc, etc, and yet Colangelo was content to add Hedo Turkoglu on top of Jason Kapono on top of Andrea Bargnani.
So isn't watching the Dinos' Summer League team a bit of a bizarre experience in many ways? Isn't this, following my earlier Costanza line of thought, the "opposite" of the NBA version of the Raptors over the past few seasons? Toronto's Vegas club is filled with athletes, shot-blockers, dunkers, rebounders and not too many great jump shooters this side of Michael Roll.
I'll be the first to say that it's great to see.
The hope then is that the best of this bunch, when combined with the more traditional sweet-shooting parent club members, makes Toronto a formidable opponent if not this season, then down the road as some of these nice young pieces continue to develop. And while I haven't been much of an optimist on the site the past few months, I think that given time, this can be the case provided some additional pieces are continuously added.
In yesterday's 88 to 82 win over a tough Sacramento Kings squad, the Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan's 22 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists but also got 19 points from Sonny Weems, 19 rebounds from Ed Davis, Solomon Alabi and Joey Dorsey, and oh, those same three chipped in 7 blocks as well with Davis swatting 5 alone.
The Raptors bigs frustrated rookie sensation DeMarcus Cousins into a 5 of 18 performance in which he eventually fouled out, and limited the effectiveness of many of the other top Kings.
Davis in particular was a joy to watch after two fairly invisible outings against the Rockets and Knicks as he showed a knack not only on the defensive end, but a nice touch around the hoop where he poured in 17 for Toronto. I'd like to see some more consistency from the former Carolina big obviously, but hopefully that will come as he gets back into game shape. But the following clip gives you an idea of how valuable he could be to the Raps next year even as a rookie:
Finally, Bryan Colangelo spoke with NBA.com during the game, giving his thoughts on everything from Bosh to Hedo to the team this upcoming season.
I'm not going to break things down, because frankly we've been through this enough lately on the site. There was a lot of PR spinning on the mess that was made the past few seasons, and obviously with the way Toronto has played in Vegas, it was easy to focus on that and the "bright future." That's great, but listening to him speak only served as a reminder to me that this "bright future" came at the expense of things like cap space, and some solid veterans who were either misused or unsuccessfully built around.
In other words, yes, things look great in July obviously, but let's see how things look come November.
Toronto's final game comes later this evening as the Raptors take on the Hornets. We'll be live-blogging it again via the broadband feed as the Dinos hope to finish up in Vegas with a 5-0 record, something that seems inevitable looking at the New Orleans' roster. The team's best two players Collison and Thornton haven't been participating, and the club is 0-4 heading into tonight's match.
Unless guys like DeRozan and Weems sit this one out, I'd say the match will cap off a pretty good run in Sin City.