The Toronto Raptors have dropped their first Summer League game, falling to the Golden State Warriors 90-84 in Las Vegas.
As always with Summer League, there was a lot of noise in the game; players freelancing, very little offensive flow, missed layups, tons of fouls, and so many turnovers. The Raptors jumped out to an early lead, but behind some hot shooting from Justinian Jessup, Moses Moody and Gary Payton II (combined 8-for-11 from downtown), the Warriors bounced back and led by as many as 15 in the third quarter. The Raptors really couldn’t get anything going, and despite getting within five midway through the fourth thanks to some strong offensive play from Jalen Adams, they weren't able to get over the hump.
Malachi Flynn led the Raptors with 16 points; Precious Achiuwa had 13 points and 11 rebounds in his Raptors debut. Rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody led the Warriors with 18 points and 14 points, respectively.
With that out of the way, let’s break down the most important aspects of the game. Like: Just how long is Dalano Banton, anyway?
Dalano Banton is Long
Watching last night’s game I was struck by rookie and TO native Dalano Banton’s length. He’s all arms and legs! He’s evidently 6’9” with a 6’10” wingspan, but if you told me his wingspan was 7’7” I would have believed you. I don’t know if it’s the braids, the shorter shorts or maybe the wide stripes on the sides of the Raptors’ Summer League uniforms, but the dude looks like he goes on forever.
Banton got some reps bringing up the ball last night, even with Malachi Flynn in the game, which was interesting to see. We may truly be on the cusp of the Raptors playing five guys between 6’7” and 6’9” at every position.
Really gonna struggle not to make a lot of precious puns this season, but Precious Achiuwa made his debut last night, starting at the centre position and flashing plenty of size and athleticism in his 28 minutes, particularly when running the floor.
It’s a little tough to get a great handle on Achiuwa at this point; he strikes as someone who doesn’t really need the ball to make an impact, but when you’re playing with other Summer League guys, well… let’s put that another way: Achiuwa strikes me a player who’ll likely play better with better teammates around him, players like Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. I really think he’s gonna fit in nicely this season.
Barnes is Chaos
Wrote about this the other day, but I think I’ll be writing it a lot — Scottie Barnes is in constant motion and constantly causing chaos out there. He’ll likely struggle with fouls a lot this season — he had three in just 11 first half minutes last night.
But, he’s still showing tons of promise on defense, and he sees the floor really well. (Check out his mic’d up for more of this). At one point in the first, he picked up a bad foul on the defensive end, but going the other way, he picked up an offensive rebound and found Jalen Adams for a three.
Cash money pic.twitter.com/Y9X6A0n5J7— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 12, 2021
And you know what? He’s big. He’s got bigger shoulders than most 6’8”, 20-year old rookies. I think he’ll be OK.
Freddie G, WYD
Again, all Summer League caveats apply, but Freddie Gillespie has not looked great so far. Yeah, he had a great block on Cameron Oliver in the third quarter, and finished with three blocks total, but beyond that, he’s looking pretty lost out there. And offensively, he somehow looks even rawer than he did last year.
Vintage @freddieg_33 pic.twitter.com/xg1I4HBGgt— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 12, 2021
This doesn’t bode well for him, as the Raptors have signed plenty of competition for Gillespie’s role this summer.
Please be Better Than This
I know it’s Summer League and most of these guys won’t even be on the Raptors’ roster this season, let alone getting minutes. But it’s still disconcerting to see just how ragged Toronto’s half-court offense is. As noted above, it’s Summer League and I know guys are out there trying to get their own and make an impression.
But as someone who has watched the Raptors struggle mightily in the halfcourt the past two seasons, and that was with a hall-of-fame point guard, I’m already having nightmares of what this season might be like. Summer League is not doing much to assuage my fears.
Summer League is half over for the Raptors. They’ll next play the Houston Rockets tomorrow at 8:00 p.m.