Summer League means nothing. I know it. You know it. But sometimes its nice to revel in the minor tidbits of excitement this 10-day stretch of incoherent and sometimes downright ugly basketball can provide.
Toronto pushed its meaningless record in Vegas to 3-0 with a 95-87 win over the Houston Rockets. And it was a game that provided everything you could have wanted from a 10pm game on July 13th that saw both team's 2015 first-rounders - Delon Wright and Sam Dekker - riding the pine with injuries.
Toronto started dreadfully, compiling a very Summer League-y 11 turnovers and trailing by 10 by the end of the first quarter. But Toronto's talent advantage took over soon after (Houston was also without 2014 draftees and bit playoff contributors Nick Johnson and Clint Capela). And Norman Powell? Well that dude shone:
NORMAN POWELL, KING OF SUMMER https://t.co/XAdoT1rXSE— John Gaudes (@johngaudes) July 14, 2015
The same caveats apply to Powell that have been valid throughout his hot stretch this week. It's Summer League. Powell is a four-year college player who at 22, is more physically advanced than a lot of incoming draftees and is more talented than most of the journeymen struggling to nab an NBA roster spot. Powell still struggles with his outside shooting (0-2 from three on Monday), forfeited four turnovers on Monday, and has a long way to go before he's a viable rotation option.
But holy hell was he ever fun to watch tonight. Powell attacks the rim relentlessly - and while the result is often thunderous, he has a very adept touch even when he finds himself in a cluster of larger bodies. He ended the first half by finishing a tough lay-in through traffic, and then flashed the defensive potential his 6'11 wingspan affords him, swatting away an attempted buzzer beating jump shot on the next possession.
Powell is 19 points and five rebounds closer to earning a spot on the 2015-'16 team.
Also promising was the performance of Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira. With a line of 6 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks in 24 minutes, Bebe showed exactly why he should be able to offer spot minutes at the centre spot this season. Play-by-play man Joel Meyers commented on the Brazlian big man's significantly beefier frame in comparison to two summers ago. Based on his play in Vegas, there is no reason to think his filled-out 7-plus foot body can't serve as a rim protecting presence in spot minutes at centre this year. His passing and shooting touch is softening as well.
Bruno Caboclo was less inspiring. Despite leading the team and in minutes and incorporating the odd silky smooth drive, he managed just 7 points on 3-11 shooting and continued to look like a guy who needs to both learn the game and learn how to control his alien body.
Bruno got his cookies snatched by a dude who fell down. Growing pains. So many growing pains.— William Lou (@william_lou) July 14, 2015
One final note - in extended minutes with Wright out, Carleton University's Phil Scrubb had a respectable showing. While his lack of speed and quick decision-making is clear (he struggles mightily creating space for himself coming around screens and holds on to the ball too long when he is pressured), he has a beautiful looking shot. His 10 points on 3-5 shooting (1-1 from three) should bode well for his hopes of being the mix for the 'Raptors 905' roster in the fall.
And to leave you in a good mood - here's another Norman Powell slam. Let's just give him the crown for the Dunk Contest in Toronto this year.
The Norman Powell Vine show CONTINUES https://t.co/MnmGPsMYj1— John Gaudes (@johngaudes) July 14, 2015
What did you guys think of the game?