7/21/13

Some Thoughts on Raptors Summer League 2013 Edition

So the Raptors Summer League has come and gone for another year. Sorry I have been out of the loop for last little bit. Had some stuff to do than as you may have heard my hometown had some minor weather issues on Friday night. If you follow me on twitter you are likely aware of the value that I put into Summer League which is not a lot to be honest.

I don’t want that to be confused with the importance it should have for the players that are on the roster of the Toronto Raptors. While what the Raptors do as a collective group in terms of wins and losses is real not of great importance. Yes even with a new gimmick tournament format that remains the truth. So much so that Jonas Valanciunas did not appear in the Raptors “all important” quarterfinals clash with the Suns on Saturday.

In reality Jonas didn’t need to play with or without a sprained finger which was the reason given for his absence from the line-up. He already showed that he has been working hard and that hard work was on display. He looks bigger, he is more aggressive and he dominated the clearly lesser talented he faced. That is what you want to see from your young players at Summer League. He will move on to play for his country in Euro Championships later in the summer. Clearly he is on the right path and will be a starter for the entire season at Center without question. Not going hand out grades in this but if that was being done Jonas could get some version of an A. It was not a perfect performance as we saw lots of turnovers and learning how to deal with double teams which helpful creating some of those turnovers.

Terrence Ross was underwhelming and that is perhaps the kindest way to put it. I have been accused of not liking Ross at times. I don’t think that is true to any degree but to say I have not been as impressed as a majority of people is more than a fair comment. He just isn’t as good as people make him out to be. He was sold when drafted as a guy that can shoot and defend. He has become known more for his dunks and winning a Slam Dunk Contest than anything to do with those attributes. Jamario Moon could dunk as well but that didn’t mean he deserved or belonged in a rotation.

Here is some cold reality if you are a Terrence Ross fan that you may not want to hear. He is going have trouble being a part of this rotation at the end of the day. Think about it and be realistic and you will admit he clearly is not playing ahead of DeRozan or Gay. The Raptors are bringing in Novak who is more experienced and is a better three point shooter. Add in the fact the Landry Fields had an injury plagued season and can only expect he will improve at least to some degree. Where does this leave Ross as the fifth best wing on the roster? He will need to scrap and fight for floor time and he showed little of that against lesser competition at Summer League.

Quincy Acy also will be hard pressed to find floor time this upcoming season. That being said he did nothing but improve his stock and give folks at least the thought that he could play some minutes if needed. He likely will not find his way to the floor mainly because of the addition of Tyler Hansbrough. I may not be a fan of Hansbrough but I am not going to say that he is not good enough to hold off a challenge for minutes from Acy. He is good enough to do that and more. He also could take a bit out of Amir Johnson’s minutes which in the long run might not be a terrible thing if it gives you a more healthy and energetic Amir. Acy closed summer league with a big performance and it was noticed by fellow Baylor alumni Robert Griffin III aka RGIII the QB of the Washington Redskins.

The other player that will be part of the roster is Dwight Buycks who in just two games turned a lot of heads and made a name for himself quickly with Raptors fans. It is not easy to shine as point guard in Summer League where team ball does not exactly rule the day. But shine he did and it will make an interesting battle in training camp with D.J Augustin who was reported as signing a one year deal with the Raptors that they have yet to confirm. Augsutin should be the back-up to Kyle Lowry entering into camp. He didn’t have a particularly good year last season but he is a talented young man that is good friends with former Raptor PG T.J Ford. So if I am a little bias on this it wouldn’t shock me. Still I think this is his job to lose and he will have all the motivation to win it on just a one year deal according to reports.

All that said from what we saw from Buycks he could easily build a case to back-up Kyle Lowry if he is able to have a pre-season that is similar to his Summer League. I like this combo behind Lowry a lot more than I did the one with Stone and Buycks who both are fairly unproven on the NBA level.

As for anyone else on this Summer League Roster you will have long forgot about them by August and so will the Raptors I would imagine. It is very rare when a guy on a Summer League roster can turn that into an invite to a training camp. It is even rarer to turn that into a contract with a team for one of these guys dreaming to make it so. 

I will be organizing another google hangout event to talk about Summer League with a panel that we have yet to determine later in the week. It should be fun and I look forward to it as I hope you will as well.

I just wanted to take minute to thank the folks that have joined the staff this off-season. I really hope you enjoy their contributions as they will be doing more of the writing as we go along. I think a lot of people are under the impression that I aspire to be a writer. In reality, I really don’t and never have to any large degree. What I get the most satisfaction from is producing audio and video content. The addition of reliable and capable staff will allow me to focus more on that. It is what I truly have a passion for and what makes me the most happy. My writing at times can be not for everyone and may in fact break some laws of the English language. It never has really bothered me in the slightest. I attempt to write in a way that is conversational and try my best to make a connection with readers on an individual basis. Talking to you, rather than writing something worthy of praise for my use of the English language. I am not Arron Sorkin, Bruce Arthur or Michael Grange. I have never claimed to be that either. Still, I enjoy writing which likely wasn’t the case when this all started over 5 years ago.

I am always grateful for the support the DNB gets from all of you that read it and listen and watch the things I have produced over the years. If you have learned nothing about me in this time you at least know that I am likely never going to change who and what I am at the end of the day.

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