Franchise: So, the Raptors win two of five games in Vegas, and their three losses were of the "we got destroyed" variety. What were your overall thoughts regarding this iteration of the Raptors' Summer League squad?
Zach: As a collective group, this Summer League squad was in the bad-to-horrible range, there's no sense in sugar-coating it. It's tough to put into words how bad that second half against the Rockets was. I don't think you'll see many of the non Bebe-Bruno-Daniels trio, getting training camp invites from NBA teams.
But having a bad Summer League squad is a good sign in a way -- if you're dominating Summer League it probably means that you haven't been a very good NBA team for a while. The Raps had a good team last year, with the likes of Jonas, Ross and Acy, but that was the result of a few years of ineptitude.
Anyone on this squad, who's looking for a team, that you could see making it? Hassan Whiteside, maybe?
Franchise: I'd only look at two guys on this club, Hassan Whiteside and Dwight Buycks. Whiteside showed enough to me that perhaps I'd give him a training camp invite. He's still pretty rough offensively, but in terms of rebounding and rim protection, he might be a fit for a club.
Buycks is a tough one. I was discussing this with a friend the other day, that he certainly can score in Summer League, bully his way to the rim, and even hit some long-range shots. But I've just seen very little over the past year that tells me he can run a team and that's what position he needs to occupy in the NBA. He plays more like a 2, but doesn't have enough skills at that position on O or D, not that I've seen anyways, to be an option for NBA teams.
But you could do a lot worse as a third-stringer and he does enough that makes me wonder about at least bringing him to camp. In reality, you end up comparing him to the other leftover free agent options and he doesn't look so bad.
Going to other individual performances, how would you grade BRUNO's Summer League?
Zach: I was actually pleasantly surprised with the Brazilian Kevin Durant. In all honestly I wasn't sure what to expect, but watching him you can clearly see the makings of a solid NBA player. And let's be honest, if you get a solid NBA player with the 20th pick in the draft, you should be laughing.
Bruno's clearly raw and has very little in the way of an off-the-bounce game, but the potential's there for him to become a decent 3-and-D type player. His shooting stroke looks good and although I think he forced things at times (those pull-up threes are a little cringe-inducing), I do appreciate the fact that he wasn't afraid to let it go. Defensively he could be a beast, but man is he going to get dunked on a lot in the first few years of his career.
Franchise: I felt the same way about BRUNO. He wasn't very efficient, and there are a lot of holes obviously, but as you noted, there were a lot of basics to like. One of my favourite things that he did a lot of, which didn't show up in a box score, was drive into lanes to attract defences, and make nice passes to open guys who were in shooting positions. It was a simple thing, but something that showed some basketball IQ that's lacking in even some current NBAers.
What about Daniels and Bebe? Thoughts? Grades?
Zach: I'd give Daniels a grade somewhere in the B-minus/C-plus range. He had a pretty awful opening game against the Lakers, but I thought that he played hard throughout the tournament and was one of the few players to come away from that awful Mavericks loss with some respectability. I like that he hits the defensive glass hard, but it felt like he was forcing things on offense, at times. It looks like the Raps are going to let him develop overseas and that's the right move. I'm not getting too excited about Daniels -- how many second-round picks ever really work out?
I liked what I saw in flashes from Bebe (that seem to be a common theme here); he's quick and actually showed off some nice playmaking skills with the ball in his hands. I'm a little worried about him defensively, however. The Raps aren't expecting anything from him at the offensive end, but he needs to make an impact on defense. He's got the length and quickness to do damage, especially defending the pick-n-roll, but too often he looks like he doesn't fully take advantage of his physical attributes. That was a pretty sweet chase-down block on Luke Hancock, but I'm almost certain I could chase-down and block Hancock (maybe). Hopefully his basketball IQ will improve with time.
Franchise: I'm worried about him defensively too, which is a major problem considering...um...that's where he's eventually supposed to be a big factor.
And I've warmed up to Daniels a bit. Wasn't a fan of the pick, but if we're being honest, he was the team's best and most consistent player.
What about most disappointing player, lots of options to choose from. My vote goes to Myck Kabongo who looked completely lost out there. Not exactly living up to his high school rep so far.
Zach: Yeah, agreed on Kabongo -- we all want him to live up to that rep -- and getting an opportunity with the home-town Raps would be a great story -- but at some point, well, you know.
I was also expecting more from Scott Machado and Malcolm Lee, just because you always expect more in Summer League from guys who have played minutes in the NBA. Lee did nothing in the first couple games and didn't appear after that and Machado looked awful in the game he started.
Franchise: Ugh, I don't even want to get into Machado and Lee, yep, not much from the one non-roster player I was intrigued by.
So let's end it on this, do you think the Raps fill that final roster spot with anyone from this Summer League squad or any other Vegas entry, or do they grab a vet? I'm going vet.
Zach: Yeah, I'd be leaning towards a vet. And as far as a third point-guard spot goes, I honestly don't think it's that pressing of a need. Lou Williams can plug a hole there if Lowry or Vasquez goes down, and honestly how much burn did Buycks and Julyan Stone get last season? They weren't exactly integral pieces.