Kyrie Irving

Summer league continued with a 90-79 loss to the Nuggets. The Raptors managed to win the second and third quarters but got off to a horrid start and ended the game by repeating their first quarter performance. The defense was very leaky and the offense a bit of a mess as one would expect of a bunch of guys thrown together at the last minute. Joey Graham and Hassan Adams racked up 31 and 28 minutes and scored 16 and 11, respectively. On an evening where it was very hard to spot an NBAer on the Nuggets squad, the two pros were easily our best players. Based on the Nuggets’ ball movement it looked like they’ve been playing together for years – 6 players in double figures!

The point guards struggled again with John Lucas unable to find the stroke going 3-12 FG. Daniel Ewing was glued to the bench along with Rod Benson and Chris Bosh’s little brother managed to get in for four minutes and clanged a couple jumpers. Jaycee Carroll came back to earth and C.J Giles racked up 8 turnovers to go along with his 8 points. Check the box score for more excitement but it doesn’t look like there’s anything good coming out of this year’s summer league crop. Nathan Jawai’s 2 points in 20 minutes is analyzed in detail by a RealGM poster. FYI, Donte Greene (who many an expert had us picking) exploded for 40 and the game-winning assist against Phoenix.

A quote-heavy article in the USA Today has Hubie Brown analyzing the trade and Sam Mitchell mentioning that Jermaine O’Neal, Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon are the three starters for the team and that “everything else is wide open”. Nothing we didn’t already know but it assures that Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon’s jobs aren’t guarantees. Bryan Colangelo’s picking O’Neal to have a “breakout year” and Brown wisely cautions that the trade is entirely dependent on O’Neal’s health to which Colangelo counters by praising his medical team.

It’s been said before but it warrants mention again: balancing the two front-court powers so that they’re complementing each other rather than coming in each others’ way will be Sam Mitchell’s greatest challenge as a coach. This situation can go south very quickly if the Raptors offense becomes as simple as O’Neal and Bosh alternating PNR and post-up situations. Mitchell has to balance O’Neal’s desire to revive his career and channel that motivation into the team functioning better, not individual glory. As he pointed out in his presser, its hardly going to matter what the stats are if we don’t see playoff success. At least early on O’Neal and Bosh share a clear understanding of what they need to do “to lead this team to the next level.” We’ll see how they’ll execute their ideas.

Ron Artest is still out there and looking to be traded to a team that’s more “committed than Sacramento”. Get him here and half of our defensive and toughness problems will go away. The problem is we don’t have anything to barter with. If nothing else, it would be very much appreciated if he’d stay in the West and not join an up and coming Eastern conference team like the Sixers, Nets, Bulls, Hawks or Magic.

Jose Calderon’s giving his thoughts on Greece while Leo Rautins is hoping that his Canadian team is finally mature enough and ready to take center stage. Canada plays Slovenia at 6AM today.

The men from RaptorsTalk have an Eastern Conference preview already out and they’re picking the Raptors to finish above the Sixers and Magic. A very optimistic article that’s worth a read but only exists because the summer is so damn long.

Scott Foster was at the receiving ends of 150 phone calls from Tim Donaghy while he was busy supplying Vegas with future NBA boxscores. So far Foster’s not under any investigation. I’m still waiting for the NBA to get into Hue Hollins’ grill for calling that foul on Scottie Pippen the year Jordan was playing baseball.

In other news, Ex-Raptor Rasho Nesterovic will be retiring from international basketball after the Olympic run. He was one of the better Raptors last year and produced whenever called upon, even if I think hard I still won’t be able to come up with any complaints about his play.

That’s about it for this morning. Thanks for reading. If you’re looking for some extra-curricular activities Cuzoogle will help you out.