Let's get the caveats out of the way first. Yes, this is the summer exhibition season; yes, the Las Vegas competition is not quite at the same level as the full-blown regular season NBA experience. Yes, half (or more than half) of the players here will probably not even make it in to the league. That is par for the course in the Las Vegas Summer League.
All that said, the Raptors are here with an intriguing pack of young players. Are you ready to watch a starting lineup of Delon Wright, Norman Powell, Bruno Caboclo, Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam? If not, get ready, because it's here.
Tonight the Raptors take on the Sacramento Kings, a team with their own group of interesting parts. I don't know about you, but I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see how a returning Willie Cauley-Stein will fit in with new draftees Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis. (If I get a chance I'm gonna ask Georgios if he's into the cinema of Yorgos Lanthimos; peak Summer League!) Sure, it's not the real NBA, but it's definitely something to see.
Now, some scheduling notes. As a reminder, the Raptors will play out their round robin games as follows:
And, if you needed a refresher, here's the rest of the Raptors Summer League roster:
|15||Berry, Davion+||G||6-4||185||Weber State, USA|
|20||Caboclo, Bruno+||F||6-9||218||Pinheiros, Sky Sao Paulo, Brazil|
|11||Crawford, Drew+||G||6-5||215||Northwestern, USA|
|22||Daniels, DeAndre+||F||6-9||196||Connecticut, USA|
|12||Jones, Jalen+||F||6-7||223||Texas A&M, USA|
|53||Kirk, Alex+||C||6-11||252||New Mexico, USA|
|13||Moreira, Yanick+||C||6-11||220||SMU, Angola|
|42||Poeltl, Jokob+||C||7-0||248||Utah, Austria|
|24||Powell, Norman+||G||6-4||215||UCLA, USA|
|43||Saikam, Pascal+||F||6-9||230||New Mexico State, Cameroon|
|25||Singler, EJ+||F||6-6||215||Oregon, USA|
|32||Smotrycz, Evan+||F||6-9||235||Maryland, USA|
|2||Upshur, Quinton+||G||6-5||207||Northern Arizona, USA|
|23||VanVleet, Fred+||G||6-0||186||Wichita State, USA|
|55||Wright, Delon+||G||6-5||183||Utah, USA|
The big questions for the night are mostly centred around the Raptors' two newest players. This will be our first chance to see Siakam and Poeltl go against NBA-calibre competition. We'll be able to assess the quickness and polish of the latter, and we'll be able to see how comfortable the former is at this level. I'm anxious.
I also wonder about what kind of progress will see from Bruno over the next week. There's no question the young Brazilian (now only two years away) has talents and physical tools. The concern has always been about his confidence and assertiveness. This is now his third (and presumably) final appearance in Vegas -- will he reach another level?
As for Wright and Powell, there's not much more to add. I fully expect Wright to exert his will on the game. He's already shown himself quite capable of dictating pace and control of a given game. At this level, as a 24-year-old point guard, he really is ahead of the curve against some of this competition. And Powell, well, he's already said he wants the title and the MVP. I have no doubt that he will play big.
In any case, get ready and let's watch tonight at 10pm EST.