Oh NBA Summer League.
A time when fans get their first glimpses of names like Wiggins and Parker, where Austin Daye and Marco Belinelli can look like future All-Stars, and guys like Brian Cook are just hoping to get one last kick at the NBA can.
The Orlando league is already in full swing but for our Toronto Raptors, their Vegas journey begins later today with a match-up against the Los Angeles Lakers' squad.
The LA team sports a couple big names with Kendall Marshall and recent lottery pick Julius Randle standing front and center. Both players are likely contributors to the Lake Show this upcoming season, Randle perhaps even starting depending on what happens with Pau Gasol.
After that, a few names Raptors' fans will likely recognize in terms of big man Trevor Mbakwe, a Minnesota grad who played with the Raptors' Summer League team last season, and Rodrique Beaubois, a one-time Dallas Mavericks prospect who many thought would eventually be a very good player in the NBA. It hasn't happened so far, and now Beaubois is looking to find his footing in Vegas.
In addition, the Lakers have pulled in some prospects from the last draft class including UNLV's Roscoe Smith, Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross, Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson, and Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane, all four of whom worked out for the Raptors leading up to the 2014 draft.
One other name worth mentioning on LA's roster is former Tulsa big man Jerome Jordan. Jordan was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the 2010 NBA draft, and had a few cups of coffee with the New York Knicks. He's a terrific shot-blocker and perhaps has rounded his game out overseas the past few seasons, so I'm curious to watch him in action versus the Raps.
One name that's missing from LA's roster is Canadian center Robert Sacre. Sacre was drafted by the Lakers with the last pick in the 2012 NBA draft, and considering the playing time he's received the past couple seasons, I'm guessing Los Angeles didn't feel he needed another stint in Vegas.
In terms of my expectations for the contest, I think LA gets the win. I'm not sure anyone on Toronto's roster can match up effectively with Randle down low, and the Lakers have the more seasoned club. Kendall Marshall should be able to pick apart Toronto's relatively unrehearsed defense, and this could be a pretty sloppy affair for the Dinos, who will feature some of the rawest prospects in Vegas.
However as we've noted already, the key over the next week or so is simply to get some runs in for BRUNO and co, and win or loss, that will be mission accomplished starting today versus the Lakers.