Thursday's slate of Summer League action was wrought with blowouts and stinkers. Phoenix sent the Bucks running scared, the Mavs embarrassed the D-League Select squad and the Warriors beat the Knicks in a way you'd expect the actual Warriors to beat the actual Knicks.
Though it ended disappointingly for Toronto, the Raptors 84-80 loss to the Bulls in the Round of 16 was about as entertaining an affair as you'll ever see in mid-July. Blocks were rampant at both ends, the teams traded runs, both squads brought boatloads of intensity and the game hung in the balance until the final seconds.
Chicago's Doug McDermott was the main reason it ended unceremoniously for Toronto. With a massive second half, he reminded everybody where the nickname "Dougie McBuckets" came from. The soon-to-be-sophomore from Creighton scored 28 points on 11-25 shooting and added eight boards.
For the Raptors, despite the undefeated run coming to and end, there were plenty of aspects of Thursday's loss that should leave Toronto fans with positive vibes heading into the regular season.
Norman Powell had another solid showing. Lucas Nogueira posted 11 points, 16 boards and three blocks to go along with a handsome quartet of assists. And despite some late-game struggles, new signee Ronald Roberts produced once again with a line of 9 points and 13 rebounds.
The most intriguing part for Raptors supporters though, may have been the contributions provided by guys who hadn't yet shone in the tournament. Canadian centre Jordan Bachynski was a defensive terror, particularly in the first quarter. Drew Crawford converted some nifty finishes and came up with a glorious swat of McDermott in the fourth quarter. Bruno Caboclo, who's had an up-and-down tournament, dropped 15 on 4-7 shooting and 6-7 from the line. And even though he struggled with his usually spot-on shot, Phil Scrubb displayed some pinpoint passing in his limited minutes:
Guys like Scrubb, Bachynski, Crawford and Caboclo may not be cut out for the 2015-'16 big club, but their performances both tonight and throughout the tournament should bode well for those hoping to catch some entertaining basketball at Hershey Centre this year. Raptors 905 will be a fun group.
Powell's final box score of 15 points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks was more than respectable. However, this was probably the UCLA man's weakest showing of the tournament. He was lights out in the third quarter - a stanza which feature back-to-back made threes by the inconsistent shooting Powell. That stretch notwithstanding though, Powell was off. He made just 5 of 16 attempts and turned the ball over four times, illustrating that he is still in need of plenty of development before becoming anything resembling a dependable contributor.
That said, even with his offense sputtering for most of the night, Powell displayed the kind of defensive potential that will undoubtedly be his calling card in the NBA. Judging by his knack for blocking jump shots with his 6'11 wingspan and his boxer-quick feet when guarding on the ball, it seems like a reasonable assumption that Powell's defensive tools will translate well:
Anything he can offer offensively out of the gate is a bonus. Powell still a ways to go, but Thursday's game doesn't take away the excellent signs he's shown this week.
Chicago will now go on to play the Phoenix Suns in the quarterfinals on Saturday - a team that boasts T.J. Warren, who is probably too good for Summer League, and Alex Len, who is undeniably too good for Summer League. It would have been fun to see Bebe match up with Len just to get a gauge of how far the Brazilian's game has come. Unfortunately, we'll have to settle for a meaningless consolation game on Friday against an opponent that has not yet been determined.
It's been a fun ride, Summer Raps. Is it Halloween yet?
What did you think of tonight's loss to the Bulls?