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Five Thoughts on Last Night: Raptors 120, Melbourne United 82

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The Toronto Raptors rested a bunch of guys, but still easily handled the visitors from down under.

NBA Preseason: Melbourne United at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was kind of a forgettable one, wasn’t it? The Toronto Raptors rested a bunch of guys, let some of the youngsters get some run, and ran the visitors from Melbourne United off the floor. Five quick thoughts:

I Dig the International Exhibition Games!

They’re kinda goofy, they’re almost always blowouts (shoutout Anthony Parker) and it’s hard to really evaluate your team against less-than-stellar competition. But it’s fun to see something different! It’s got to be pretty cool for the other guys to play in NBA arenas, maybe get some visibility with NBA coaches and so on.

For the Raptors this was mostly an exercise in conditioning, and getting some back-of-the-bench guys some looks. Lots of freelancing, no need to really run your offence against a non-NBA defense... for the fans it’s fun to see these guys run and jack up triples.

Is it OK to rest players in the pre-season?

Obviously, it is. And I do kinda dig the idea of “saving” Kawhi Leonard for the regular season one debut.

On the other hand... people still pay real money for these games, ya know? They wanna see the stars!

On the other, other hand... if you’re gonna rest guys, definitely better to do it at home/in an NBA arena. For the folks in Montreal and Vancouver, it might be their only chance to see these guys, ever. At least at home games, those fans will have another 40-odd chances.

I’ve already used one too many hands, so I’ll just say: Buyer beware when buying preseason tickets!

OK, Norm, You Showed Me

I ragged on Norman Powell last game, but he pretty much dominated this one. He looked good from all over, getting to the rim and hitting triples, and his stroke does look better than it did last season; he’s not rushing it. He definitely appears less anxious out there.

Of course, Powell limped off in the third quarter and didn’t return. Let’s hope he’s OK, and that what he accomplished on the floor transfers to the regular season, or at least, you know, real NBA opposition.

So Let’s Talk About the Youngsters

Unfortunately, the guy I was most looking forward to seeing tonight, Chris Boucher, was held out with back spasms. As for the other guys fighting for those 12-15 spots:

  • Lorenzo Brown played as aggressive as I’ve seen him on an NBA court. My issue with Brown last year was his conservative play; he played with a lot more freedom last night. Of course, he somehow ended up a -11 in a game his team won by 38, so, you know. Still got some work to do, I guess.
  • Jordan Loyd canned a three, but was mostly invisible—except for getting clobbered in the final minute and somehow getting whistled for an offensive foul. Welcome to the, uh, NBL? [shrug emoji]
  • Deng Adel got in in the second half, and got the crowd excited with a nice-looking pull-up jumper, a runner in the lane, a spinning layup and a sweet and-1 finish in the paint with the left. Oh, and a three-pointer too! He finished with 13 points. He looks springy and active, a 905er for sure.
  • Eric Moreland got three chances to score at the rim, but needs a little polish on the finish; he went 1-3, but he’s got an NBA body for sure.
  • Malachi Richardson got up seven shots, but only hit two. He still looks like he’s rushing it out there, which he shouldn’t be—he’s got enough NBA action under his belt. He did knock down 5-of-6 free throws at least.
  • I was impressed with Kay Felder against Portland, and the same tonight. He didn’t show up in the boxscore, but he plays under control, seems to know where to go and what to do. But I don’t think this team needs four point guards.

The Style Gods Smiled Upon This One

This Melbourne team rocks some fine-ass looks. I’m talking about Chris Goulding’s slicked back/pony tail combo, Alex Pledger’s long-on-top, short-on-the-sides, full-beard combo, and of course, Craig Moller with the full-on wild man look.

And did you see head coach Dean Vickerman’s jacket-shirt combo? Light blue jacket with a grid pattern, dark blue shirt... I want that! And that rainbow pocket square for the added shot of color? Damn.

Melbourne United v Toronto Raptors Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

(On the other hand, Bryan Colangelo is jealous of that collar, my man.)

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All right, so the Raptors have a few days off before a French-inspired back-to-back in Montreal and New Orleans on Wednesday and Thursday. Let’s all hope Norm is healthy and the rest of the team stays healthy as well.