Heading into the NBA Summer League, it was fair to say the Raptors had one of the more well-composed and (relatively speaking) experienced teams. Their starting five of Delon Wright, Norman Powell, Bruno Caboclo, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl was expected to be solid. And, after drubbing the Sacramento Kings 88-47, tying a record for lowest allowed point total, consider some expectations fulfilled.
Let's start in the backcourt with Powell and Wright. Both are clearly rotation players at the NBA level. Powell is ready to step in tomorrow for the Raptors. And while Wright is still the third string point guard for the Raptors, it's clear he can play. Powell finished the game with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while shooting 4-of-11 from the field (including 3-of-6 from three). He never looked less than in control. Oh yeah, and he also did this:
Likewise for Wright, who is not as explosive a player, he calmly ran the Raptors as they collectively ran up the score. Wright finished with four points, six assists and five rebounds. He made the right pass more often than not, ran the break with extreme confidence, and -- along with Norm -- was the obvious leader on the floor. Afterwards Summer League Head Coach Jama Mahlalela complimented Delon's composure, saying, "that's what he [Wright] needs to do as a professional point guard for the Raptors."
But this is burying the lede. The real note of intrigue with the Raptors in this year's summer exhibition is in their front court. Poeltl and Siakam played for their first time tonight in a Raptors uniform, and the results were positive. For Poeltl, the praise of his foot speed was well-earned. He looked extremely mobile on the court, and while he's more slender than I realized, he was able to get in the mix and challenge shots, grappling at times with both Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere of the Kings. On the offensive end, Poeltl's touch around the glass looked extremely polished. He finished the game with six points, nine rebounds (including seven offensive!) and three blocks, while shooting a perfect 3-of-3 from the field.
Meanwhile, Siakam's debut was also encouraging. Despite not playing in the second half with a knee sprain (relax guys, I was told it was just precautionary), Siakam made his presence known everywhere on the court. In 15 minutes he shot 6-for-10 for 12 points, grabbed two boards and chipped in a steal. On the defensive end it felt like Siakam had a hand in on every drive; on offense, both Wright and Powell could count on Pascal to be running with (or ahead of) them on the fast break. Siakam may not have Bismack Biyombo's shear size and presence yet, but he's an active player with, as promised, a fantastic motor. (Let's hope that knee sprain just needs a day or two of rest.)
And finally, now in his third year at Summer League, we get to Bruno. I'll be honest with you: now in year three of his development, Caboclo remains as very much the same player we've seen for most of his career. Coach Mahlelala said Bruno "slowed the game down for himself, he didn't rush, he didn't try to do too much today." And this is true, such as it is. Bruno will shoot any three that comes his way (he went 3-for-9 tonight from deep), while grabbing a few boards (five), and generating few assists (he had one). Bruno finished the game with 11 points and still looked very much like a young man trying to figure out how to assert himself. (Coach Jama said he "didn't do anything he couldn't do," which is nice, I guess.) The physical tools -- the awesome reach, the mobility, the size -- are still there, but it's starting to feel more doubtful Bruno will put it all together. Ah well.
All in all, despite the usual Summer League caveats, a great showing for the Raptors tonight. Powell and Wright were in control, Poeltl and Siakam showed flashes of excellent utility, and Bruno continued to tantalize.
Up next for the Raptors is a 3pm PST (6pm EST) game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, July 10th. We'll have coverage of the game live and in-person.
Anyway, what did you guys think of the game?